By Billy Dukes
Ultimate Classic Rock
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Stevie Nicks leads Dave Grohl and the Sound City Players on ‘You Can’t Fix This,’ a song inspired by the death of the Fleetwood Mac singer’s godson. The group recently performed a slower, bluesier version of the track from the ‘Sound City’ soundtrack on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman.’ It’s best experienced live.
The studio version ultimately relies on Nicks, who is not quite the gifted vocalist she once was. Only when one knows the context in which she penned the lyrics is it effective. Lost in the studio mix is the swirling guitar licks that set the mood for this dark quasi-anti-drug message. “We were careful in our own way / We walk through the darkness / We made a pact not to dance with the devil / Even when the devil seemed to have a heart,” she sings before the first chorus.
That chorus is an unimpressive, slogging arrangement that fails to grab one’s attention. “You can’t fix this / You lost a friend / Hearts breaking / Right and left / Friendships break like glass / And the devil pours another glass,” Nicks sings. Later a pair of backing vocalists freshen-up the lyrics. It’s a necessary addition, as the finished cut comes in at a lumbering six minutes.
“We never allowed the devil to come to the party,” Nicks sings multiple times. Presumably the “devil” is the drugs, which she did let come to the party during points in her life. Her godson overdosed, and Nicks has talked about him before. (Editor’s note: Stevie’s godson is her former manager Glen Parrish’s son.)
Lyrically, the message is meaningful but not brilliant prose. Clumsy rhymes aren’t softened by a magical arrangement of guitars and drums. Instead they’re left as the focus of a song that just sounds flat on the record. The slowed down live version they performed on late night television adds another dimension to the single, but ultimately it’s not going to be one fans remember forever.