"Edge of Seventeen" is a song by American singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks from her debut solo studio album Bella Donna (1981), released as the third single from the album on February 4, 1982. The lyric was written by Nicks to express the grief resulting from the death of her uncle Jonathan and the murder of John Lennon during the same week of December 1980. The song features a distinctive, chugging 16th-note guitar riff and a simple chord structure typical of Nicks' songs. The song's title for the single release was "Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove)". In the United States, "Edge of Seventeen" just missed out on the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 11. Despite this, it became one of Nicks' most enduring and recognizable songs and has been covered by several artists.
Background and inspiration
According to Nicks, the title came from a conversation she had with Tom Petty's first wife, Jane, about the couple's first meeting. Jane said they met "at the age of seventeen", but her strong Southern accent made it sound like "edge of seventeen" to Nicks. She liked the sound of the phrase so much that she told Jane she would write a song for it and give her credit for the inspiration.
Although Nicks had originally planned to use the title for a song about Tom and Jane Petty, the death of her uncle Jonathan and the murder of John Lennon during the same week of December 1980 inspired a new song for which Nicks used the title. Nicks' producer and lover Jimmy Iovine was a close friend of Lennon, and Nicks felt helpless to comfort him. Soon after, Nicks flew home to Phoenix, Arizona, to be with her uncle Jonathan, who was dying of cancer. She remained with her uncle and his family until his death.
Nicks had never actually heard a dove's call before, as she revealed in 2020 when she had only just heard it recently. The opening lyrics were inspired by a menu she was reading at a Phoenix restaurant in 1980, which said, "The white wing dove sings a song that sounds like she’s singing ooh, ooh, ooh. She makes her home here in the great Saguaro cactus that provides shelter and protection for her…".
Composition and lyrics
Throughout the song, a distinctive 16th note guitar riff is played by Waddy Wachtel, progressing through C, D, and E-minor chords. During the bridge, the chords alternate twice between E-minor and C. Wachtel claimed that The Police's "Bring On the Night" was the inspiration for the riff. This claim is backed up in Andy Summers's memoir One Train Later, when he states that Nicks asked to meet him after a 1981 show in Los Angeles.
As is typical of Nicks' songs, the lyrics are highly symbolic. Nicks has said that the white-winged dove shall represent the spirit leaving the body on death, and some of the verses capture her experience of the days leading up to her uncle Jonathan's death. The part when Nicks and her back-up singers sing "ooh baby ooh" is meant to sound like a dove singing, similar to an owl "whooing". File Hashes
HASH2: 81287A7CAB9820E0 (MP3)
HASH2: EEAB9634B6105DC1 (MP3)
HASH2: FE4C3EA809DD52F3 (FLAC)