One of my all-time favorite songs is Landslide, by Stevie Nicks. For a long time, I have felt a connection with this song, and to her voice in it. In looking into Stevie’s reasons behind the lyrics, it turns out many people close to Stevie thought it was written about them. They all felt the connection too. She does dedicate the song to her daddy—but he’s not the only one it is about. It is about her relationship with her father, with Lindsey, and her struggles trying to have a singing career.
Stevie explains the story behind Landslide in several interviews with different nuances. Piecing them together for a cohesive explanation, this is what I came up with:
Stevie and Lindsey just had a confidence-blowing failure with their record, Buckingham Nicks, which they thought was going to be their ticket to the big time. Ouch. Stevie has a heart-to-heart talk with her father, where he suggests she give her singing career 6 more months to try and make it. If not, he would pay for her to go to college. She kind of agrees. Lindsey gets a chance to rehearse with Don Everly, so they head up to Aspen. It is the only time in her life she had lived in the snow. Stevie was there for 3 months while he was on the road. Meanwhile, she has $40, a waitressing and housecleaning job, strep throat, and a frozen Toyota. Lindsey didn’t make the big money they were hoping he would while he was gone. They got in a big fight, and he left her there. Now, looking out at the “snow covered hills” with only 3 months left before…gasp…college, there is much going through Stevie’s head. And a song was born. Landslide was Stevie’s decision to continue amidst all her fears of everything avalanching around her. (But don’t worry, the singing thing worked out in the end.)
Why do I like this song so much? Because I can identify. Stevie has made her lyrics personal enough to connect, and vague enough for us to interject our own experiences. That makes for good song writing. The thing is, I struggle with ambition and responsibility. As a wife and a mom, I feel like I am juggling so many things that one wrong move could cause an avalanche in my life. And it will affect everyone I love. But as a Christian, I am thankful for the landslides and I’ll tell you why.
We climb a lot of mountains, but they are not always the ones God wants us to climb. Stevie consults the mirror in the sky for the answer to love. While that verse does lend well to her reflection in the snow covered hills, we know that our sovereign God is much more than a mirror. I can really take my experience and knowledge as a Christian into this song. I too wonder if the child within my heart can rise above. By this, I mean that child-like trust in God’s work over my own. I get overloaded with all the “shoulds” and “oughts” of my responsibilities that I begin to believe that I’m running the show. Can I handle the seasons of my life? I really don’t know sometimes. I ask that question often.
Time does make you bolder. Stevie had given herself a time limit; therefore she knew she needed to put herself out there. I find that the older I get, the more I see things in perspective. I want to stop wasting time on people-pleasing and personal aspirations, and humbly go after godly ambition. Here’s where I always hit a landslide. In his grace, God bulldozes me with my reflection in the snow covered hills. It’s not pretty. But he puts an end to my selfish ambitions by showing me just how idolatrous and meaningless they are. He does this through his gospel. The gospel is a two-way mirror. It reveals my sin, and just when I am hit with a landslide of despair, I see the righteousness of Christ graciously offered to me.
I may have quoted this before from Rescuing Ambition, because I read it often. But I love this exerpt from Dave Harvey:
In the shadow of failure we find humbling grace. We learn that we’re limited. We discover that God is more interested in who we’re becoming than in what we’re achieving. We find our definition not in our failures or successes but in Christ (152).
He goes on to quote Samuel Rutherford, “Grace grows best in winter.” Maybe Stevie was alluding to that truth on some level. The thing is, we all face our landslides. During this time of self-examination, do we see these are also from God? Do we run to his humbling grace?
There are plenty of mountains in the Christian life. But if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills, turn around and go the other way. If you see Christ’s reflection, keep climbing. That is the direction I am headed and his is the reflection I want to leave.