The Penguin Lyric Interpretations


Return To
The Penguin

After The Glitter Fades

Lyrics Real Audio

Written by Stevie Nicks.

Contributors to this interpretation included: Stewy, Becky, Keith, Lauren, Rhapsody, Rhiannon, and Samantha.

After The Glitter Fades appeared on Stevies highly successful 1981 solo debut album Bella Donna. As with most of Stevies songs, what at first appears to be an easily interpreted set of lyrics turned out to be something much less straightforward. What has been most confusing about this song is the lack of a concrete time frame in which it was written. The copyright date indicates 1975, but this date has been said to be incorrect by Stevie herself in interviews given around the time of the albums release (see RS 9/3/81, In Concert and High Times). These interviews place the year at 1972 or 1973., and though this 2-3 year time difference may seem of little consequence, it can greatly affect how the lyrics are interpreted. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had yet to make great waves in the rock and roll business as of 1972-73, but by 1975, they had gained considerable fame as members of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie specifically had been thrust into the limelight by hit song 'Rhiannon' which went to No.3 on the charts.

Despite this confusion, the interpretations which were made for this song, whether based on 1972 or 1975, seem to follow the same general path. Whether showing a somewhat prophetic view of her life (much like Rose Garden) or a view of life on the cusp of super-stardom, Stevie lets us all take a peak into her take on the ups and downs of life as a rock and roll woman.

Well I never thought Id make it
Here in Hollywood...
I never thought Id ever
Want to stay...
What I seem to touch these days
Has turned to gold...
What I seem to want
Well you know Ill find a way

This verse shows her desire to be a huge rock and roll star, and her doubts that it would ever happen. She thought she wouldnt be able to make it. How could she ever stay on Hollywood and keep fighting for her dream when nothing was going her way? But now shes seeing some success and she finally is gaining some confidence that she will obtain her dreams in Hollywood. She wants to keep her dream alive now and shes realizing her dreams are within her grasp as things start of go her way. This could either be referring to events which occurred around the time of Buckingham Nicks or later with the success of 'Rhiannon' as a hit single. Either way, shes obviously on a roll. Shes grabbed the golden baton and shes running with it. She may not know for sure what she really wants, but what she SEEMS to want is what shes going to get. She suddenly has the Midas touch and shes obviously determined to get what she wants and has found the will and the way to do just that.

For me...its the only life
That Ive ever known
And love is only one...
Fine star...away

Music is her life - and it has been since she was the young child singing with her legendary grandfather. Its her lifeforce - her center. Its what fills her heart and makes her whole, and its the thing that is guiding her life. Shes striving to reach those elusive stars and find the love shes always wanted.

This verse is quite abstract and could have several meanings. Is the "love" shes talking about really love in a literal sense (as in her relationship with Lindsey), or something more like the love and adoration of a billion fans? Or could it be the love she feels for her music that means the most to her in life. Whatever this love is, its only "one fine star away" to her. Stars in the night sky seem close enough to touch, but they are so far away they can never be reached. She might believe that she is very close to grabbing hold of her shooting star...the way to finally finding some kind of piece. She could also be referring to her relationship with Lindsey - they share a love, but they may never have each other totally because their love for their music separates them. Their total commitment to each other is close, but oh so far away - as seemingly close as the stars, but never fully attainable.

Even though the living
Is sometimes laced with lies...
Its alright...
The feeling remains
Even after the glitter fades

Her happiness turns to sadness here as she comes face to face with the tarnished side of the rock and roll industry. Shes sees the vile inside of the music industry and is disenchanted with the lies and behind the scenes politics inherent in the business, but she wont let it get her down. Its tolerable because she knows deep down in her heart that the music - HER music will always be there for her. The music is her sanctuary from the lies. Its what will always remain for her after all is said and done.

The loneliness of a one night stand
Is hard to take

Here her disenchanted view of the world expands to include not only the lies of the business, but the horrible loneliness or the industry and the road as well. What may have only slightly affected her directly before now hits home. Loneliness and heartbreak are prevalent, showing us the pain she feels. The loneliness of a one night stand that she speaks of my have many meaning. Is she speaking about an infidelity between her and Lindsey which makes her feel lonely and if so, is this what is causing her heartbreak and emotional shutdown?? Possibly. Though some people feel this is definitely a part of it, Stevie herself has lent a little insight into the issue in an interview in High Times. When questioned about this exact verse, she was adamant that it had nothing to do with a one-night stand involving either her or Lindsey. "That was a real premonition. I just had some idea about Fleetwood Mac. I wasnt talking about one-night stands with a man. I was talking about your one-night stands in a concert where you run in, played, and left." The loneliness she feels is almost incomprehensible to the average person. You would think that someone performing to a crowd of thousands of people would be anything but lonely, but that is obviously not true. The crowds come and the crowds go - never to be seen again. There is no lasting bond to ease the loneliness. There is only a new crowd at the next gig. And when that crowd is gone, another will follow. That loneliness seems unbearable to Stevie, and rightly so - but she knows that the music is the key and it, above all else, will keep her company.

We all chase something
And maybe this is a dream
The timeless face of a rock and roll
Woman...while her heart breaks
Oh you know...the dream keeps coming
Even when you forget to feel

We all do chase something, and Stevie is chasing something as well, but is it really what she wants? She seems to be feeling like her success wont last - as if it is all a dream and when she wakes up in the morning it will all be gone. Will the love shes come to share with Lindsey remain? Will her music help her find what shes looking for? Will she ever attain the fame she wants so badly and will she be able to deal with everything when it happens? These issues all confront her in an environment filled with unknowns and heartbreak.

The loneliness of the road is the hard part for her and it seems she may regret living this part of the dream she had been striving for. Her heart is breaking - its not everything its cracked up to be, but its really all right for her because she knows that her dreams and the feeling will endure even though she is basically forced to withdrawal and shut down her emotional side in order to survive the strange life she is leading. Though strangely prophetic, these lyrics do indeed mirror her sentiments when talking about the rigors of life in a band exhausted by touring. Even in Behind The Music she said that after a while you just shut down and quit being emotional because its the only way you can survive.

She chose her path and worked hard to achieve her success - and on the way she paid a great price. If she had truly understood the cost, would she have really wanted to go through all the pain and heartache and be the rock and roll woman she is today?? I think we all see her answer to this question in the ending repeated verses of After The Glitter Fades. Yes - she would have done it again - even with the lies, the heartache and the loneliness of the one-night stands, because even before she was successful she obviously understood that the feeling WOULD remain even after the glitter fades.

For me...its the only life
That Ive ever known
And love is only one...
Fine star ... away
Even though the living
Is sometimes laced with lies...
Its alright...
The feeling remains
Even after the glitter fades

For me...its the only life
That Ive ever known
And love is only one...
Fine star ... away
Even though the living
Is sometimes laced with lies...
Its alright...
The feeling remains
Even after the glitter fades
Oh you knowthe feeling remains
Even after the glitter fades
Oh the feeling remains
Even after the glitter fades

The verses repeat. Maybe they are meant to be coming from an older and wiser perspective. The lesson was learned the hard way, and now shes trying to teach the next group of people reaching for that same bright star, singing it much like the teacher she admits to being to a new pupil with their own dreams. One thing remains the same and she repeats it to drive home the point and make everyone really understand - the feeling really does remain even after the glitter fades.

Transcribed to HTML by Marty Adelson.

Copyright 1995-2001, Martin and Lisa Adelson
All Rights Reserved.