“Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks

The lyrics of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” may seem as if they go off on metaphorical tangents at times. However, they all point to a very-distinct period in Nicks’ life. Within a matter of weeks during December of 1980, both her uncle and music legend John Lennon passed away.

Whereas her uncle was not anyone famous, it is clear that he was dear to her and a treasured part of her life. John Lennon (1940-1980), the music legend who was a part of the Beatles, was a very-close friend to Nicks’ producer and lover at the time, music mogul Jimmy Iovine. In fact Mr. Iovine was so close to Lennon that his death had a direct impact on his and Nicks’ relationship. In other words, whereas Stevie may not have known Lennon personally, she was still deeply saddened due to the depressing effect his passing had on the man she loved.

But again, Stevie is very-poetic in her approach. So if a person is not aware of the actual history of this song, they may conclude it alludes to ideas which it does not. For instance, the title itself has little, if anything, to do with its actually subject matter.

All in all, “Edge of Seventeen” is about the sadness Nicks felt after the death of her musical hero John Lennon and an uncle of hers named Jonathan. Both deaths occurred just days apart in the month of December 1980.

Lyrics of "Edge of Seventeen"

But where did the song’s title (“Edge of Seventeen”) come from?

Nicks got the song’s title from a conversation she had with singer Tom Petty’s wife Jane Benyo. During the conversation, Nicks had asked Jane when she met Tom for the first time. Jane replied Nicks by telling her that she and Tom met when she was “at the age of seventeen”. Interestingly, because of Jane’s southern accent (which was very thick), Nicks assumed what Jane said was “the edge of seventeen”. She liked the phrase and decided instantly it would make a good title for a song.

Actually Nicks wanted this song to be about the romance between Jane and her then husband Tom. However, after the devastating demise of Lennon and her uncle, she changed the song’s theme but kept its title.

Release Date of “Edge of Seventeen”

This Stevie Nicks classic was released in February of 1982. It served as the third single from her maiden solo album titled Bella Donna.

Chart Performance

The song peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and performed likewise on the Canada Top Singles chart.

Notable Covers of “Edge of Seventeen”

This song was covered by actress Lindsay Lohan in 2005. It was also sampled by Destiny’s Child in 2001 on their hit track “Bootylicious”, with Stevie Nicks appearing in the music video of the latter.

Did Stevie Nicks actually write “Edge of Seventeen”?

Yes. This classic was written by Stevie Nicks in its entirety. “Edge of Seventeen” was subsequently produced by Jimmy Iovine.

Live Performances

Stevie Nicks is known to always conclude her live performances with a rendition of “Edge of Seventeen”.

2 Responses

  1. Simon Banks says:

    Totally on point!
    The title of this song came from Stevie Nicks mishearing the words “age of seventeen” as “edge of seventeen” due to its speaker, Jane Benyo (Tom Petty’s ex-wife), have a strong-Southern accent.
    She was closely associated with the Pettys most likely due to Tom also working with Jimmy Iovine at the time.
    And originally the track was intended to be about Tom Petty and Jane Benyo. However, due to the aforementioned deaths, Stevie Nicks changed the subject matter entirely though retained the same title.

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