Sable on Blond

“Sable on Blond” is Track 9 on The Wild Heart, following “Nothing Ever Changes.” Stevie wrote the song about Jimmy Iovine, but also alludes to her childhood friend Robin Anderson, who passed away from cancer in 1982.

In 2016, an alternative version of the song was released on the deluxe edition of The Wild Heart.

“I wrote this when I came off the Bella Donna tour,” Stevie recalls, “one of the most exhilarating and beautiful experiences I’ve ever had. And I moved into my new dream house, but it was more of a nightmare because it was cold and empty. I only had my piano. There were no phones, and I was alone, freezing, with nothing. It was like going from heaven straight to tell without stopping off for a burger on the way. I was devastated. I moved into my closet with my quilt and pillows and my writing stuff. My clothes were hanging in my face, and I took my little stereo in there, and that’s where I lived. But the song really is about learning to live with Stevie; learn to be a stranger, learn to live in silence, learn not to call on everybody else to get you out of everything or make everybody else pay for what you’re going through because you’ve chosen this life. Like Arthur learned from Excalibur, you do not ever call on your most precious magic unless you are literally out of other choices.” (Modern Records, 1983)

“That fraying relationship eventually found musical form on her track “Sable on Blond,” which features Mick Fleetwood on drums. Stevie explains that she asked him to drum because “I wanted to write another song similar to ‘Dreams.’ Since I only know three chords on the piano,” she laughs, “I used my ‘Dreams’ chords, but sang a completely different melody over it.

“As for the words, “They were about Jimmy and me coming to an end,” she says firmly. “There was a point where I was living in this new house on Sunset in the Palisades. We hadn’t broken up, but we weren’t living together. The living room was round, surrounded by windows, and in it I had my white Steinway piano and my black Bösendorfer. And I would sit between those two pianos and imagine: Jimmy is driving by.

“This was completely a dream state because there was no road where he could drive by and see me sitting there!” she chuckles. “But this idea in the words — ‘…Have you come to see that my face is not seen…outside my frost-covered windows’ — well, there’s no frost in California either, but that’s kind of how it felt!

“Then the idea of ‘sable on blond’: that was Jimmy’s and my hair — this California blonde and this dark Italian New Yorker. We were so different, a crazy-looking couple. That’s that vision thing,” she shrugs. “those are the pictures that you paint. These are the things that you remember.

“The original poem, Stevie adds, was written “in one of my Sulamith Wülfing books, right next to this drawing that inspired it.” Wülfing, a 20th century German artist famed for her depictions of fairies, dreamscapes, and mystical figures, is a visual touchstone for Stevie.

“Mick gave me a book of her paintings and drawings in 1975, just after Lindsey and I joined Fleetwood Mac. There’s one called The Falling Leave [sic], with a girl looking up at a feather falling from the sky. That’s what I was feeling about losing Robin.” (Stevie Nicks, 2016)

Sable on Blond (Alternate Version)

Lyrics

Learn to be a stranger
Blond on blond
In silence she says, “Excalibur”
I beg of you now
What was it that fell
Was it

One fallen leaf
Like the feather that it was
Was it freedom by choice
Or, baby, was it love

Was it a thorn in your side
Something that you hide
Something you don’t touch
Because it hurts too much
Ooh…

Well, have you come to see
That my face is not seen
Ooh, outside my frost covered windows
Oh, and just how deep
Do you hold that dream
In your hands each night
This time
In your hands each night
This time

Oh, was it you
I heard calling
Which voice
Well, I know that you are going
Which voice
Did I force you to remember
In the sacred name of love

Well, to be brave
Save the stranger
Sable on blond
Dark upon light
Because it hurts too much

Just how deep
Do you hold that dream
Oh, in your hands each night
In your hands each night
Oh, in your hands each night

Ooh…
What was it that fell
Ooh…
I beg of you now
What was it that fell

Well, this time I think it was you, babe
Well, this time I think that it was you, babe
Wo…
Wo…

This time
Ooh, well I think it was you, baby
This time
Ooh, well I think it was you, baby
This time
Oh, well I think it was you, baby
This time
Oh, well I think it was you, baby
This time
Oh, well I think it was you, baby

(Stevie Nicks) © 1982 Welsh Witch Music (BMI) Admin by. Sony/ATV Songs, LLC)

Musicians

Piano: Roy Bittan
Bass: Kenny Edwards
Drums: Mick Fleetwood
Guitar: Waddy Wachtel
Synthesizer: Sandy Stewart
Background vocals: Sharon Celani & Lori Perry

Produced by Jimmy Iovine. Recorded at Studio 55, Los Angeles

NEXT: Beauty and the Beast ~ We come from different worlds, we are the same…

References

McLean, Craig. (2016). Stevie Nicks: The Wild Heart, deluxe edition [Liner notes].
Modern Records. (1983). Stevie Nicks: The Wild Heart [Press release].

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