The Penguin Lyric Interpretations


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Written by Stevie Nicks.

Contributors to this interpretation included: StephanieNicks98 (Marissa), Becky, Janet, Lesley, and Shadow.

With the release of Stevie’s box set Enchanted earlier this year, along came the prophetic song "Garbo" which had been unheard unless you were lucky enough to own the "Stand Back" single (Garbo is on the "B" side). This song was written in the early seventies, but not released until 1983.

While touring to promote the box set, Stevie sang this song and briefly spoke about it saying, "It’s about the infamous photo shoot for the Buckingham Nicks cover. Every time I tell this story I feel like I’m depressing the audience but at the same time I need to actually tell you what happened. So I went to do this, I was not happy about it. I got in a lot of trouble for not being happy about it "don’t be paranoid, don’t be a child, this is art" (as you know, Stevie was asked to remove her blouse for the photo shoot). So anyway, I thought about it in my dramatic way that maybe the movie stars that came here felt this way. You know, maybe they felt they had to do something that they really didn’t want to do that much but they did it anyway. So, I went home and wrote this song."

"I love to waltz with a man in a dark linen suit
All alone-at a party with someone I knew
From a time gone by turned into stone

Here, Stevie is at the photo shoot with Lindsey in a room full of photographers and other women ready to get their picture taken (the "party"). Stevie is getting the feeling that she is going to have to "take a deep breath to get through all this because it’s gonna be hard for me to have that sexist kind of thing thrown in" (from The Enchanted Tour Best Buy CD). Stevie also went on to mention that it was all the little things that scared her about stardom. Stevie wanted to be the artist.

You could be Garbo or even Marlene
You could be Marilyn…
Or you could forget

Stevie is giving herself a few choices. She can either play the star (Garbo and Marlene), and do things that she may not want to do, or get out now. It’s also interesting how this past year during the tour she adds the words "Walk away…."

I play the part but then all of us do
And I do it so well as I do it to you
In this town full of strangers
In this town full of fools
Venus doesn’t glitter when she stands next to you
When you’re waltzing through stardom
You miss what you lose

Stevie sees herself in the role as a star; in a town filled with foolish big names that hardly know each other. There is magic all around her and she is the main focus of attention. As she’s going down the path to fame she thinks about all the things that she could have had and done had she chose to "forget," and "walk away" from it all. She’s having some doubts as to what she has just done.

Lose yourself in a silvery dress
For you think you must do what you feel you do best
And you musn’t give it up for you’re still but a guest
You could be Garbo or even Marlene…
Or you could forget"

She is getting lost in the Hollywood lifestyle, the chiffon, the lace, and the diamonds. She thinks that to play the part would be in her best interests because it’s what she knows how to do well. She’s telling herself that she shouldn’t give in to the whole lifestyle just yet because in Hollywood you can be the center of attention one-day, and lose it oh so quickly the next. Is being Garbo or Marlene what she should do? Should she pay such a severe price to be a legend, or should she just give up?

Well obviously we know what choice Stevie made. She has paid ultimate prices to get to where she is today. She never had a family and settled down, she battled a drug addiction, and through it all has managed to remain one of the most influential artists to date. She is a living legend and although she has paid these prices, Stevie has said that she wouldn’t change a grain of destiny if she were to do it all over again.

Transcribed to HTML by Marty Adelson.

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