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Gate And Garden


Written by Stevie Nicks.

Contributors to this interpretation included: Rhiannon, Janet, Tracy G, Becky, and Violett.

This song is one of her most obscure and confusing compositions. It reflects her personal life, but also echoes what she said about the Wild Heart tour. It was all about people falling in and out of love, situations of happiness and heartbreakÖJames Dean/Natalie Woods type scenarios. Even though the song is very abstract, it can (as all her songs) be applied to the universal, and I think that is one of the main reasons why she is an incredibly sophisticated songwriter. She has the ability to capture her life experiences and emotions through poetry that affects the listeners on a very deep level. Looking at it from a metaphysical viewpoint, this song possesses many levels of interpretation.
In a book called Sophiesís World, it is written that "the path of mystery leads inwards."

There is a gate
It can be guarded
Well it is not heaven
And it has a garden
So to the red rose
Grows the passion

Tracy G. provided a quote about this verse from Rolling Stone magazine. They say it, "begins the inexplicable Gate and Garden. Emotions flit through these songs like Hades shadesóshapeless forms, unable to escape. . . . As a result, her lyrics are awash in setting but curiously clumsy in matters of the heart. Thereís no dance of souls here . . . nothing to lure us into caring."

I agree that the reviewer misses the point. This song leaves open a lot of room for interpretation, so only Stevie knows what this song is really about. Itís up to us to fill in the gaps if we want to.

This verse is a reflection of her spirit. The garden is a metaphor that could represent the most secret parts of her mind and heart, containing all her various emotions and thoughts. The gate, to which only she holds the real key, can be guarded at her will. Locked or left open, or choosing what she wants to let in. She admits that this garden does not belong in a fairy tale, and it is not heaven, because she is only human as all of us are, and therefore imperfect and with the capacity to feel angry, hateful, jealous as well as loving and passionate. As in even the most immaculate of gardens, there are weeds. Sometimes she feels as though she has to hide her emotions and feelings and keep them guarded, building a wall to protect herself. But if she builds a fortress around your heart (isnít that a Sting song?), she might lose that ability to love, so itís up to her to make wise decisions using her own judgment. The red rose stands for passion and love that grows stronger as it blooms and as the petals unfold with "innate potentiality," but roses also have thorns that you must be aware and be careful of. Taking a Freudian approach, this could also represent the conflict between her ID (repressed desires, forbidden impulses, etc.) and Superego (morality, compulsion to do whatís right).

And the guardian...
Well it's now you know
It's just a few days...away
It's now you know
And it's then
It's just a
Someone steals it...

Powerful, complex emotions flit back and forth in this eternal dance of love. Time becomes elastic, shifting forward and behind for her. She thinks back to similar situations of emotional turmoil in the past, considers what is happening to her now, and predicts what will occur in the near and distant future. The tireless, relentless, game of love that she plays with whoever she is thinking about, leaves her with clues only to guess. Nothing is certain, nothing is concrete, and that bothers her, even though she accepts it. Itís a paradox, because even though her situation is delicate and just balanced, ready to fall over at any moment, she would rather have that way than to lose it all.

Someone...steals it away
Scares you to death
You don't give in to yourself
You give in to your friends
Don't send an answer
How many times...have you said

Who steals this game away from her? Could it be herself or could it be an intervening person? Iím not sure. Or perhaps she is just thinking that it could be stolen from her, and that thought scares her very much. Things can change in the blink of an eye, powerful love can quickly turn to hate, compelling her to erase all "illusions" of perfect love from her mind, because she feels that itís just not going to happen. Becky pointed out a fact that we often donít give too much though to. Once a person makes a stand, they always keep it in their hearts even though it may falter on the outside due to peer pressure or other affecting circumstances. Maybe Stevie is saying that once you love someone, you never really stop loving them even though lovers will come and go. This verse really is very confusing. Perhaps she says "Donít send an answer," because she doesnít want to face the reality of how her lover feels about this situation. She feels that what she feels is enough for her.

Do I love you
Well I always did...everynight
Nobody knows...nothing 'bout it

I really think she is questioning herself on the inexplicable depth of their love. No one, except the two of them, would ever be able to understand a love like that. Perhaps sheís even thinking about Lindsey Buckingham now. Who knows? Who are we to know, as we can only speculate. Perhaps she feels that there is no need to question a love that will always be in her heart.

Well it's now you know
It's everywhere
You seek the truth
I say all is fair
Don't send an answer
How many times...
Have you said...

"Itís everywhere" could refer to the fact that she sees people falling in and out of love all around her. Maybe the person she writes about doesnít believe her when she says that her love is true and ubiquitous and eternal. She gives him the freedom to look for the truth, as there are no rules in the game of love, but she doesnít want an answer, and she doesnít want to know the reasons why he doesnít believe her or love her anymore.

Do I love you...everynight
Well I always did
Nobody knows...nothin' 'bout it I love you
Well I always did...everynight
Nobody knows...nothin' 'bout it
They know nothing 'bout it
They know nothing' 'bout it...
Do I love you...Ooo

Do I love you...Ooo
Do I love you...Ahh
Do I love you...Ooo

Stevie leaves the song with her plaintive wailing that reflects her emotions and her own confusion. We are caught in the dynamic feelings that permeate this song long after the music and the singing has ended.

Transcribed to HTML by Marty Adelson.

Copyright © 1995-2001, Martin and Lisa Adelson
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