Gwyneth Paltrow is back, Gleeks, and she’s brought the legendary Stevie Nicks with her.
After weeks of waiting, the Academy Award-winning actress, who has more recently been spending her time performing onstage at various awards shows, including the Oscars and the Grammys , finally returned to reprise her “Glee” character, flighty substitute teacher Holly Holliday.
During her turn on Tuesday night’s (March 8) episode, titled “Sexy,” Paltrow, who made a lasting impression last time around thanks to her giddy (and squeaky-clean) take on Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” took on an entirely different sound when she sang the moving Fleetwood Mac classic “Landslide.”
Accompanied by twangy guitars and a banjo, Paltrow drew on her country music chops (heard most recently in her 2010 drama “Country Strong”) as she covered the timeless tune. But even before getting the “Glee”/Gwyneth treatment, “Landslide,” written by Nicks, has long been considered a treasure of the Fleetwood Mac catalog.
In 1973, 25-year-old Nicks penned the song during a stay in the snowy mountains of Colorado. Although there have been various theories regarding who — or what — the song is about, the singer set the record straight during a visit to VH1’s “Storytellers” in 1998.
“Everybody, everybody seems to think that I wrote this song about them — everybody in my family, all my friends, everybody,” Nicks said on the show. “And my Dad, my Dad did have something to do with it, but he absolutely thinks that he was the whole, complete reason that it was ever written.”
She went on to explain just how the song came to be, “[Bandmate] Lindsey [Buckingham] and I went up to Aspen and we went to somebody’s incredible house and they had a piano and I had my guitar with me and I went in their living room, looking out over the incredible Aspen sky and I wrote ’Landslide.’ ”
The song, which includes such lyrics as “I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills/ Till the landslide brought me down,” would become a turning point in the careers of Nicks and collaborator Buckingham, who was also her boyfriend at the time. As she told the “Storytellers” audience, “Three months later Mick Fleetwood called on New Year’s Eve 1974 and asked us to join Fleetwood Mac.”
“Landslide” was initially released on Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled 1975 album, but it wasn’t actually released as a single (despite being a fan favorite) until 1998, when a live version of the song appeared on the Fleetwood album The Dance and hit airwaves. It peaked at #10 on Billboard’s adult contemporary chart and hit #51 on the Hot 100 that year.
The sentimental and deeply personal song, with its simple, yet effective guitar chords and lyrics like “Well, I’ve been afraid of changing/ ’Cause I’ve built my life around you” found its way into the hearts and onto the records of other inspired artists, most notably the Smashing Pumpkins and the Dixie Chicks.
The Smashing Pumpkins released their version of “Landslide” on their 1994 B-sides album, Pisces Iscariot. The cover went on to be one of the rock band’s most-beloved tracks and even had the approval of Nicks herself. As she told fans during a 1998 online chat with SonicNet, “There’s nothing more pleasing to a songwriter than [someone else] doing one of their songs. [’Landslide’] also led me to being friends with Billy [Corgan] and the possibility that we’ll work together,” she said of the Smashing Pumpkins frontman. “Over this song, there’s been this incredible connection … he reached out … I believe that my poetry is really meant for everyone, no matter what age.”
Nearly 10 years later, chart-topping country trio the Dixie Chicks created their own rendition of “Landslide.” Released on their 2002 album, Home, the trio’s cover also became a favorite among fans.
With its debut on Glee, “Landslide,” proves that it continues to be a song that speaks to many generations, moving listeners years after Nicks first shared the song with the world more than 35 years ago.
What did you think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Glee” cover of “Landslide”? Tell us in the comments!