Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” Lyrics Meaning

People who are familiar with “Rhiannon” are well aware that its namesake is generally considered to point back to a witch from Welsh mythology. But what is less known is that when Stevie Nicks actually penned it, she was not aware that the name Rhiannon had such an origin. Rather she derived it from a book about a lady with a split personality.  And in said text, which is entitled “Triad: A Novel of the Supernatural” (1973), Rhiannon is representative of the main character’s dark side.  Moreover, as the title of the book implies, there is a mystical element to her story.

But what really inspired Nicks to write this tune wasn’t the character per se but rather she taking a liking to the name. But that being noted she still fashioned her as, according to her own words, an “old Welsh witch” even though at the time she did not know the name’s mythical background. However, more to the point, as evident by the lyrics and even the way Stevie has performed this song, is Rhiannon’s independent lifestyle. Indeed she is presented as being very free-spirited lady who is very much exercising control over her destiny, even if her lifestyle is sort of transient.

In fact truth be told, the whole mystical side of “Rhiannon” doesn’t really come through in the lyrics themselves. It wasn’t until a couple of years after the track’s release that Stevie Nicks discovered where that name actually came from. But she was elated to realize that the song she had already written, under her estimation, still fit into the narrative of a fictional entity who she described as “a mythological queen”.

Writing Credits

This track was written by Fleetwood Mac frontwoman Stevie Nicks. She actually wrote it before joining the group. And even though according to the songstress, she was able to do so in “about 10 minutes”, it is considered to be the signature tune of her distinguished career. 

When did “Rhiannon” come out?

It was officially released by Reprise Records on 4 February 1976 as the third single from Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album.

“Rhiannon” meets with huge success

This classic, which was produced by the entire band alongside Keith Olsen, remains one of the group’s most successful tracks.

In terms of the track’s success, it reached number 11 in America. In Canada, it got to number 4 on Canada. It also appeared on the UK Singles Chart and in a few other countries’ top-music listings. Also in the terms of the United Kingdom, it has been certified Silver.

At one point in time “Rhiannon” also held the distinction of being amongst the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, as ranked by Rolling Stone. However, when they updated the list in 2011 , they removed this track from it.

Song inspires a movie

In 2020, having more time on her hands due to the coronavirus lockdown, Nicks began putting together a movie that is actually inspired by this song.

Eminem loves “Rhiannon”

According to Eminem’s mother (Debbie Nelson), “Rhiannon” was one of the songs Eminem loved as a kid. She revealed this in her 2008 autobiography.

Stevie Nicks talks about the meaning of “Rhiannon”

According to Nicks herself, this classic is “about an old Welsh witch”.

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