Edge of Seventeen

"Edge of Seventeen" is a song by American singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks from her debut solo studio album Bella Donna, released as the third single from the album on February 4, 1982. The lyric was written by Nicks to express the grief resulting from the death of her uncle Jonathan and the murder of John Lennon during the same week of December 1980. The song features a distinctive, chugging 16th-note guitar riff and a simple chord structure typical of Nicks' songs. The song's title for the single release was "Edge of Seventeen ".
In the United States, "Edge of Seventeen" just missed out on the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 11. Despite this, it became one of Nicks' most enduring and recognizable songs and has been covered by many artists, notably American actress and singer Lindsay Lohan on her second studio album A Little More Personal . The distinctive riff was sampled by American girl group Destiny's Child in their 2001 hit single "Bootylicious", with Nicks making a cameo appearance in the accompanying music video.

Background and inspiration

According to Nicks, the title came from a conversation she had with Tom Petty's first wife, Jane, about the couple's first meeting. Jane said they met "at the age of seventeen", but her strong Southern accent made it sound like "edge of seventeen" to Nicks. She liked the sound of the phrase so much that she told Jane she would write a song for it and give her credit for the inspiration.
Although Nicks had originally planned to use the title for a song about Tom and Jane Petty, the death of her uncle Jonathan and the death of John Lennon during the same week of December 1980 inspired a new song for which Nicks used the title. Nicks' producer and lover Jimmy Iovine was a close friend of Lennon, and Nicks felt helpless to comfort him. Soon after, Nicks flew home to Phoenix, Arizona, to be with her uncle Jonathan, who was dying of cancer. She remained with her uncle and his family until his death.

Composition and lyrics

Throughout the song, a distinctive 16th note guitar riff is played by Waddy Wachtel, progressing through C, D, and E-minor chords. During the bridge, the chords alternate twice between E-minor and C. Wachtel claimed that The Police's "Bring On the Night" was the inspiration for the riff. This claim is backed up in Andy Summers's memoir One Train Later, when he states that Nicks asked to meet him after a 1981 show in Los Angeles.
As is typical of Nicks' songs, the lyrics are highly symbolic. Nicks has said that the white-winged dove shall represent the spirit leaving the body on death, and some of the verses capture her experience of the days leading up to her uncle Jonathan's death. The part when Nicks and her back-up singers sing "ooh baby ooh" is meant to sound like a dove singing, similar to an owl "whooing".
Perhaps appropriately for a song named for a mondegreen, "Edge of Seventeen" has been cited frequently as a source of misheard lyrics since its release. The line "Just like a white-winged dove" is sometimes misheard as “just like a one-winged dove.”

Chart performance

"Edge of Seventeen" peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in April 1982. The live version on the B-side reached number 26 on Billboards Mainstream Rock chart. The original album version had previously made the top five of Billboards Mainstream Rock chart in 1981, peaking at number four. "Edge of Seventeen" also peaked at number 11 on the RPM Top 100 Singles chart in Canada.
The song was also covered on season 9 of The Voice by Amanda Ayala and Shelby Brown. Their cover entered the top 100 of the iTunes rock chart.

Track listing and formats

  1. "Edge of Seventeen " – 4:10
  2. "Edge of Seventeen" – 5:57

    Credits and personnel

Year-end chart Rank
US Top Pop Singles 100