The Penguin Lyric Interpretations


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Written by Stevie Nicks and Sandy Stewart.

Contributors to this interpretation included: Scott Boucher, Missy, Rhiannon, Anusha, Stephanie M., and Marlene.

Nightbird is a powerful and moving song about loss and longing and ultimately love. The entire Wild Heart album was written during some of Stevieís darkest times-- the height of her cocaine addiction, Robin dying, A failed marriage to Kim Anderson, Fleetwood Mac seemed to be falling apart, and many other things contributed to this mess as well. The dark intricate tapestries of her lyricism on this record often makes the listenerís reaction something like, "God, this is real!", and it truly is because everything that inspired this and the other songs on The Wild Heart were real, and painful, and when one listens to these songs, especially Nightbird, you can empathize and relate, and let emotions flow like perhaps you never have before.

Another theory of this song that was contributed had more to do with Stevie realizing what drugs, touring and stress were finally doing to her and this was her longing for help and love, yet feeling that at the same time she didnít deserve any. This interpretation is probably just as true as the other way that it was interpreted, and often Stevie refers to more than one aspect of her life, or event that has happened, when she writes a song.

And the summer became the fall
I was not ready for the winter
It makes no difference at all
'Cause I wear boots all summer long

Summer is a season symbolic of life and happiness. Quite often summer calls to mind birds and trees and pure joy while the fall is a transitional season...the life of summer fades away from us and we must brace ourselves for the winter. In fall, the birds leave us and the trees lose their leaves and the ground freezes. The winter is usually barren, cold and lifeless. The peace and fullness of the summer has completely departed and we are left with cold, emptiness, and despair.

This part seems to be about Stevieís best friend since the age of 15, Robin, slipping from health and high spirits, into a rapidly deteriorating state. The good times had drifted away and Robin left more and more each day. Stevie has also said that Robin had the worst leukemia the UCLA medical center had ever seen, and during the transition to winter, summer seems to leave all too soon and no one is ever really ready for the harsh reality of the winter.

Winter is a season which is in this song a metaphor for death. Robin is the one changing seasons and no matter what, Stevie finds that she cannot accept the death of one so close to her. She is always prepared for the worst, for the winter, she has been prepared even in happier times for it, but ready is something she never was and never could have been. Anyone who has faced that kind of loss can tell you the same. You expect death to come any day, but when it finally does all the time you wasted trying to be ready to deal with it didnít really help at all.

My eye make up is dark and it's careless
Some circles around my eyes
Sometimes the real color of my skin
Is my eyes without any shadow

She says she has been worrying about the impending winter so much that she has neglected to care for herself. She doesnít care at all for little things like make-up because it is a pretense and she is infinitely more concerned with Robinís fate than anything.

Maybe she even is more worried about what is going to happen afterwards and how she will react than even Robin herself is, because she has always said how much of a fighter and incredibly brave soul Robin was. She also appears to say that the real color of her skin, the person who she really is, is seen more than ever right now because she canít hide the pain or herself at such a vulnerable time.

And when I call
Will you walk gently
Thru my shadow

She is asking Robin to just show some kind of sign that sheís out there, this sign could perhaps be a warm breeze at the utterance of her name or any number of things and Stevie would know that Robin was telling her she was around.

The ones who sing at night
The ones who sing at night
The ones you dream of
The ones who walk away
Capes pulled around them tight
Cryin' for the night
Cry for the nightbird

This part is about Stevie, Sharon, and Lori. Stevie has said that they are the ones who sing at night because most concerts are at night. They are the ones you dream of because they donít have any time.

The first two lines of this section can also be interpreted as the ones you dream of being those youíve lost and now see only in dreams and memories, and they walk away because itís like tracking a ghost through a fog. You can search all you want but it is often impossible to find the ones who have left you sometimes even in memories.

Stevie, Lori, and Sharon also are very protected....trying to hide themselves and maybe avoid the pain of loss. They are mourning, and at the same time cry for the nightbird.

The Nightingale is a bird that sings only at night, and it is the bird of sorrow. In Medieval times, birds were used as messengers to deliver important news back and forth. Also night is many times used to represent death or darkness and pain. They cry for the nightbird because they are hoping it will come and show some sign of Robin, or a message from her to let them know sheís okay. Birds are also used to represent freedom, and in death Robin is free from leukemia, and sickness.

And so the winter is really here now
And the blankets that I love
I am surrounded sometimes
By too much love

Now it has really happened, Robin is gone and Stevie is still in complete disbelief. Blankets cover us when we are cold and make us feel warmth and safety, so the blankets are actually people. These are people she loves deeply who try to console her, but after such a devastating loss who would want to be happy? Most of us would much rather grieve and when people are constantly trying to make you feel better, you canít do that.That love smothers you and doesnít give you the space you need so desperately.

And the darkened eyes
Thru the net of the lace
In the darkness
It's hard to see her face
Pulls back the net
And you feel the touch
Of her fingers
And you see she turns the eyes
And you see the eyes of a nightbird
The ones you dream of
Finally the nightbird
Finally the nightbird

This is what it is like to finally get that message, to finally see Robin once more. The lace separates them like a haze, maybe this is a dream, but Robin pulls it away and touches Stevie, this is what Stevie has been longing for since Robin passed away. She has finally seen Robin, and knows now that Robin is out there and free, and the grieving and waiting is over at last.

Transcribed to HTML by Marty Adelson.

Copyright © 1995-2001, Martin and Lisa Adelson
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