I’ve spent the week replaying Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon over and over, dancing and crying to this haunting, beautifully caustic melody.
The song comes from Welsh folklore; the Rhiannon in the story defies tradition to choose her own husband, but also willingly endures being turned into a horse as false punishment. I see the song as an evolution of this. Stevie Nicks, who penned the song, describes her as a “witch” and so the Rhiannon in my head is a little feistier and a little less forgiving. The Rhiannon in my head would have kicked the shit out of her captors and gone off to live free in the forest.
The singing towards the end after the guitar solo in this live version – the bit drummer Mick Fleetwood once referred to as an “exorcism” – is what always gets me. It’s here where you truly realise that Nicks’s song is a cry, an admonition to any fool who thinks they can possess Rhiannon. It is a reminder to Rhiannon to never be caged. Rhiannon tells me to not just be free, but to strive towards freedom, to make my life an exercise in freedom. I imagine Rhiannon to be wild, unruly, and so unequivocally herself that you cannot help but be enraptured by her.
I have always found it strange how you can’t remember the feeling of a feeling. You can remember the physical acts around it, and how those made you feel, but you can never properly evoke the fullness of a given feeling again. I’m trying to not be scared of how that makes everything seem a little less real than I’d like it to be. Music helps because songs carry meanings, both given and ones we give them, that root us in time and space. Rhiannon vaguely reminds me of someone I once loved, it’s sort of bittersweet about someone I could love, and it tells me a bit more about me. It reminds me of the fleetingness of feeling and it is my song of this week for that reason. Next week will be a different feeling, a different song.
Every Wednesday, one of our contributors writes about a track they've been listening to.
Let us know about your song of the week here