ROCK / Riffs: Home on the range: Dance singer Saffron on Fleetwood Mac's 'Sara'

'I first discovered 'Sara' when my parents gave me a tape for a Christmas party. It's a sad ballad with a haunting melody, sung by Stevie Nicks, and after I heard it, I ended up spending all my pocket money on her records. Like Kate Bush, Nicks only did one solo tour, but I think the best delivery of this song is on the live concert video from those shows, which I played almost every day when I was at college. You can really see the anguish and the passion in her face. 'Sara' came out in the late Seventies, when I was 12 or 13, and you can tell it's from the folk / rock era. The song starts with a piano solo, down-tempo like a folk song, with the sort of arrangement - for lead guitar, two backing vocals, drums, and piano - which any session band could play. Nicks also sings it sometimes with just a piano, which is the test of a good song. I think it's written about a friend of hers but I don't really know exactly what it's about: differences between friendship and loving, perhaps. I like the line about 'The sea of love where every one of you would love to drown'. And I like the way, as a singer, she writes her own songs and never goes beyond her own vocal limitations. Stevie Nicks is no Aretha Franklin. But like Joni Mitchell, she has a particular quality to her voice, rather than an impressive range. 'Sara' is an unhappy sound but an uplifting one.'

'Sara' was recently re-released in two Fleetwood Mac box sets. See above.

(Photograph omitted)

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