No. 64: Stevie Nicks, ‘Edge of Seventeen’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
‘Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove)’ was the third single from Stevie Nicks‘ debut solo album, 1981’s ‘Bella Donna.’ And the story behind this entry in our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs is one of musical lore.
The song’s name came from a conversation Stevie had with her good friend Tom Petty‘s first wife, Jane, about the couple’s first meeting. Jane said they met at the “age of seventeen,” but her thick Southern accent made it sound like she said “edge of seventeen” — and Nicks was so taken with the phrase that she asked Jane if she could use it as a song title.
Stevie intended the song to be about the Pettys, but when her beloved uncle Jonathan and music legend John Lennon both died during the same week in December of 1980, she shifted focus.
She’s since said that the “white-winged dove” in the lyrics represented the spirit leaving the body upon death, and some of the verses recount Stevie’s experiences in the days leading up to her uncle’s passing.
‘Edge of Seventeen’ peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1982, and to this day it remains one of Nicks’ most recognizable tracks. In fact, the guitar riff — played by Stevie’s longtime guitarist, session musician Waddy Wachtel — is so distinctive that it was sampled in the Destiny’s Child song ‘Bootylicious,’ and Stevie herself even made an appearance in the accompanying video.
Watch Stevie Nicks Perform ‘Edge of Seventeen’