The Penguin Lyric Interpretations


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Written by Stevie Nicks.

Contributors to this interpretation included: Lesley, Hayley, Janet, AJ, and Lauren.

The soap opera that is Fleetwood has been summarized countless times by the media, the band, and ourselves [the Ledgies]. But perhaps the band's tale is best recounted in Stevie Nicks' song "Fireflies." Here she compares herself and her bandmates to "five fireflies," a very symbolic metaphor. Fireflies light themselves up for all to see, night after night- perhaps this is how Stevie felt while touring to support Tusk, which was the time this song was written.

To be the last to leave
The last to be gone
Stolen from the ones
Who held onto it
To be the last in line
Oh the ones that live on
Silhouette of a dream
Treasured by the ones
Who hung on to it

The opening verse first strikes the listener as being about Stevie herself. She is lamenting on how it would feel to leave the group, and how she is determined not to, to stick it out and be "the last to be gone," and last even longer than those "who held on to it-" perhaps she is referring to Mick Fleetwood, who was known to be the force behind keeping Fleetwood Mac together? The lines "Silhouette of a dream...treasured by those who held on to it" may reflect upon the fact that although Stevie's "dream" has now become distorted, wayward, she still treasures the good times that the band had together. She is glad that she "hung on to" the good memories...perhaps because there seemed to be more bad moments than good at the time she was writing this song. The good memories that she treasures are the driving force behind her being "the last in line" to leave the band. Stevie once said that she would never be the one to break up Fleetwood Mac, and this verse reflects that statement.

Almost a breakdown
Of our love affair
The stiletto cuts quick
Like a whip through the air
Long distance winners
Will we survive the flight
Not one of us runs
From the firelight

"Almost a breakdown of our love affair..." Here Stevie speaks of all the love affairs within Fleetwood Mac; herself and Lindsey, Christine and John, Mick and Jenny, and herself and Mick. "The stiletto cuts quick-" this indicates the painful time everyone went though. But in the end, they were "long distance winners." (This line is also reminiscent of Stevie and Lindsey's song "Long Distance Winner" from the Buckingham Nicks album; perhaps they are remembering the experiences they shared during that time when they sing the line together.) The couples got though their problems, and Stevie is hopeful for the future of the band. She knows that the band can only survive if they "survive the flight;" that is, the Tusk tour. No one in the band, however, is running from the "firelight," or the limelight that Fleetwood Mac found themselves to be in during the tour. Again, the theme of staying in the band and sticking out the uncomfortable times appears.

I would love to believe
I believe what you say
In the drama of the moment
Oh no there is no easy way
No one ever leaves
Everyone stays close 'till the fire fades

Stevie wants to believe everything her bandmates say- that everything will work out, the love problems of the band will eventually resolve themselves. "The drama of the moment" could refer to an argument between the band members. Fleetwood Mac was in the studio working on Tusk for many months, and both Lindsey and Stevie have said that the atmosphere was anything but nurturing. It is entirely possible that there were many "moments of drama" in the studio while working on the project. "The drama of the moment" could also be a reference to their stage act, and what it becomes to her. When the band is on stage, performing, it's very hard- "there is no easy way-" to remember the disputes in the band, the other "moments of drama." When Fleetwood Mac has the "fire," no one wants to leave the band. The stage is where they are most radiant...they all plan to stick around "till the fire fades."

To be the last to leave
What caused the fearsome
There was no competition
Well to survive do it right
And you believe in the five
To survive the distance
Everyone fights
Everyone fights
And the fire flies

Stevie questions the reasons the couples within the band broke up; certainly the "divorce in the night" line is directed at the breakups of the couples, especially her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham. Emotions run amok...the band has to believe in themselves ("the five") to survive the tour, and keep the band a whole. "Everyone fights...and the fire flies." This line seems to be Stevie saying to herself, "Yeah, it's normal to fight with people close to you. But if we keep it up, the fire will fade." She knows that if the emotions don't come back to earth, the "fire will fly-" the group dynamic will be lost, irreparable.

What happened to my feelings
There were angry words in the night
Some call it my nightmare
My five fireflies
Oh like a sailing ship
But not one of us runs

People are telling Stevie that the Fleetwood Mac atmosphere is unhealthy for her (calling it her "nightmare"), that she's better off by herself. She contemplates this in the line, "What happened to my feelings?" She knows that she could have had a so-called "normal life;" marriage, children, etc. But she gave it up for her "nightmare" instead. Perhaps she feels that it is her destiny- a destiny as determined and set as a "sailing ship." Her band life, with her "fireflies," keeps her from running to the normal, domestic life she knows she's missing out on.

It's our love affair
It cuts like a whip through the air
And I would love to believe
To believe what you say

In all, Stevie finds herself as emotionally involved in the band, Fleetwood Mac, as a love affair. The repercussions, however, can turn ugly and hurt her at times- "like a whip through the air." She knows she is destined to be a "firefly," to believe what everyone says. But she becomes cynical near the end of the song, as if the "angry words in the night," the "stiletto cutting quick," the "divorce in the night" has finally taken its toll on her. It's as if her naivete has been adulterated, and she can no longer "love to believe" what the other fireflies tell becomes, "to believe what you say." It becomes theoretical, but still hopeful; she's still willing to believe.

And the fireflies' light glows on still...they believed in the five.

Transcribed to HTML by Marty Adelson.

Copyright 1995-2001, Martin and Lisa Adelson
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