“Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice … ”

My husband and I saw Fleetwood Mac in concert on Saturday. We’d never seen them before, and, truth be told, they probably aren’t on my list of my Top 5 All-Time Favorite Bands (no offense). But I figured they’d put on a great show, and I’ve enjoyed many of their songs well enough, so we got tickets for the Charlotte concert. The band is on a sort of reunion tour, since Christine McVie decided to rejoin them after doing her own thing for 16 years.

They didn’t disappoint. It is a glorious thing to see artists (or anyone) in their element ~ to watch people who are apparently aligned with what they were put on this Earth to do, and loving it. Living their dharma, in the yogic sense. Cynics would say that Bands of a Certain Age often reunite simply for money, but that’s another story ~ and I doubt it’s the story of the 2015 version of Fleetwood Mac. They didn’t have an opening act and played ~ intensely ~ for nearly three hours. As Stevie Nicks said, the show on Saturday was the 62nd of this tour. It’s hard to fake committed artistry 62 times (and counting), never mind for 40 years.

With four decades of well-documented up-and-down history, the band has plenty of stories, and Stevie Nicks shared several on Saturday night. One had to do with the genesis of the song “Gypsy.” A YouTube and Google search shows that she has told versions of this story many times, including to Entertainment Weekly in 2009, but here’s the essence of the one she told in Charlotte:

In the mid-1960s, when she was a young and parent-subsidized college student in California, she became romantically and musically involved with Lindsey Buckingham. Their band accelerated quickly, opening for some of the biggest acts of the day ~ Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Santana. Stevie said she’d heard about this great store in San Francisco where the big rock stars shopped called the Velvet Underground. She saved up money she was making in the band and made a pilgrimage.

Once she arrived, she realized she couldn’t afford a single thread. But she had a Moment: Standing on the floor in the store, she realized that she might have been in the very spot where Janis Joplin had stood. Or Grace Slick. Or Joni Mitchell. Or any of her female idols.

“I don’t really know what happened in there,” she told the Charlotte crowd, “but I was a different woman after that.” She knew that her fate as an artist was sealed.


Vintage poster for the Velvet Underground shop in San Francisco.

I love that she let go of her quest for shiny hippie objects and absorbed the energy of the lineage around her. (Of course, some folks in that lineage met some pretty horrible ends, but these were the earlier, halcyon days.) When she wrote “Gypsy” about a decade later in the fully formed Fleetwood Mac, she was looking back on those more innocent, budding-artist days.

Her point on Saturday: When you realize you are standing on your path, don’t let anyone try to pull you off it. If you have a dream and believe in it, don’t let anybody stand in your way. If you don’t stick with it, she said, you’ll regret it.

My takeaway: Hold on to your own Velvet Underground moments. Have the grace to land those flashes of lightning and follow them, with gratitude and joy. Put yourself on your own path.

[Sidebar, true story: I was a fan of the band the Velvet Underground in college, because it seemed compulsory, and I liked the Andy Warhol banana album cover. During one of my fall breaks, I made a pilgrimage to the punk mecca shop Commander Salamander in Georgetown. Bought a T-shirt. Did not become a rock star.]


So I’m back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was, to the gypsy that I was

And it all comes down to you, well, you know that it does
Well, lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
Ah, and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy, you see your gypsy

To the gypsy that remains faces freedom with a little fear
I have no fear, I have only love
And if I was a child and the child was enough
Enough for me to love, enough to love

She is dancing away from me now
She was just a wish, she was just a wish
And a memory is all that is left for you now
You see your gypsy, you see your gypsy

Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you and it all comes down to you
Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you

I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
And it all comes down to you
I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
And it all comes down to you

I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
(She was just a wish, she was just a wish)
And it all comes down to you
Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you

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