I don't think it's a stretch to speculate that this song is about Stevie. How many women broke it off with Lindsey first, and said goodbye before he did? Not many... but Stevie did. I think this song is about making peace with all that, letting go of that residual bitterness he carried around for a while (see pretty much all of his songs on Tusk). This song reminds me a lot of Goodbye Angel in its theme, but from a more mature standpoint, after a lot more time has passed.
The song starts off with him looking back on those times, "the days of old", when they broke up, despite the fact that he tried to hold on. He's not looking back in anger at this event, but dealing with it.
This theme of dealing with the past continues as the song progresses. He picks himself after he falls (echoing Loving Cup, interestingly enough), and he has to fight all those destructive feelings about the past that make him bitter - "what was wrong" - for "what was right" - that old "positive choice" that will allow him to let go. And he does make that positive choice - now he's able to say goodbye to Stevie, instead of dwelling on the fact that she said goodbye to him. Since this was written right after he left the band, that choice would be to cut ties and leave the band.
The next verse repeats this - he was so hurt by all the lies, and it really crippled him emotionally, but he has learned to put it in perspective. People break up everyday, and it's often painful, but they have to deal with it. His breakup with Stevie was just one moment in his life, during a time that was almost outside reality in that as rock stars they were in their own little world. Now he realizes he has to move on, he needs to put all the anger behind him, he can't "let it get [him] down."
The good news is that, ten years after the song was written, he said "hello" again for The Dance, and now for this album! Yay!
I get the sense this song could be about more than saying goodbye to one or more past lovers. On a broader level, I think it could be about coming to terms with loss and tribulations of several kinds. Before he felt he was only just reacting to the events around him ("first you said goodbye to me"). Now hes been able to deal with past events in his own time, and he can set himself free from them ("now I say goodbye to you").
I wonder if the chronology of who said goodbye first is necessarily an indicator that he was left (jilted) by the person(s) to whom hes speaking. I was thinking that perhaps the first goodbye might just be the act of physical separation between Lindsey and the person(s) hes addressing. This second and final goodbye now in this song is the mental/emotional goodbye that he is, at last, prepared to utter because hes faced the feelings, the people, the incidents that kept his mind/heart dwelling on the past. There were love relationships with a few women who left great marks on his life that have probably been difficult to let go of, even if he initiated the breakup. Lindsey has also lost all of his immediate family, save one brother. They passed away before he may have been ready to let go. How often is one ready for a family member to die, afterall? Particularly with his father, there may be some abandonment issues Lindsey has dealt with since he was only in his early 20s when Mr. Buckingham passed. There is a very peaceful feeling in this song and in Lindseys voice. Perhaps that comes from his ability now to just love the memories and not feel the loss so vividly.
What doesnt kill you only makes you stronger, they say. With his past behind him now, hes feeling very strong and directed ("Now I finally found my way/Now I know just what to do").
This song may also be about coming to terms with himself, accepting who he is and what hes done, and knowing that its alright to go forward being true to himself. Its fairly rare to see Lindsey be understanding of himself and so confident about his life; Its nice to see on a human level. "I fall down I get up/And Ive always had to fight/Everything that was wrong/For the things that were right" One notion about these lines might be that he had to fight himself internally to find his bigger self in trying situations. Another notion might be that hes looking back on his struggles to be heard and understood. As an artist, Lindsey has strong ideas and ideals about integrity. Hes followed his own path instead of a more well worn one. It was (and is), by no means, the easiest route to take. It left him misunderstood and questioning himself a good deal of the time. I think this verse could be about accepting that he ruffled some feathers, and that he let his own feathers get ruffled, but that its all ultimately led to creating who he is, and hes okay. In the end, its all worked out. The struggles were just part of life and he can put that into perspective, just like he can put into perspective the loss of family and love - "Just a time within a time/Just a scheme within a scheme/Just a world within a world/Just a dream, just a dream". He neednt make it any bigger than it was or beat himself up over it all anymore.
"It's so hard to find your way/When the lies come around/Still it happens everyday/So don't let it get you down" I almost think this is the ultimate message of the song. Its one that he understands now more than ever before and its one that he can pass along to his own children, who are, most probably, one of the main reasons why Lindseys feeling so strong about his future and is ready to let the past rest. In fact, the softness of his voice and delicacy of the guitar almost have the quality of a childs lullaby.
Its a very interesting song for the feelings it evokes. There is a palpable sadness and optimism all at the same time. Saying goodbye means leaving behind some things that have been very powerful motivators in his past. But it also means cleaning the slate, on his own terms, and making him open to all the new things that lay before him that hes ready to experience. Ultimately, its a gentle and uplifting song.
This song is about Stevie and was dedicated to Stevie at the Perth (WA) Concert on 28 February 2004. Lindsey told the audience that he "wanted to dedicate the next song to Stevie as it is about her". Stevie looked surprise and I watched as her bottom lip started to quiver! Magic moment!
I really think that this song was written about Stevie. On Live in Boston, Lindsey said that this was written shortly after he left the band in the 80's.
The first verse is talking about seeing Stevie, and remembering what they had, and what they could have had together. Then he goes on to say, he let her go, he couldn't do anything, and even though it was a long time ago, he still thinks of her.
I think the chorus can be interpreted in two ways. One being, when she left their relationship, and now he's just leaving her. Or it could be in the way of him saying goodbye once he left the band. He could have been thinking in his mind, Stevie left for her own solo career (but she still kept her commitments with Fleetwood Mac), now I'm trying to do my own thing too.
I think the last few verses are saying, he finally knows what he wants, he's found his way, and now he just needs to say goodbye.
This doesn't come off as an angry song at all, so I'm sure there's a lot of compassion in it, and you can tell when he sings it, and the acoustic guitar (I hope I'm using the right words there). That's just my interpretation though, and it's pretty much the same as everyone else's.
PRIESTESS OF NOTHING speculates:
I just saw FM 2 days ago [June 23, 2004] in Chula Vista, CA (San Diego) and I was hoping Lindsey would play this song as it's one of my faves on SYW.
Lindsey said he wrote it a while ago but was waiting for the right time to record it and that was this album. He said its a song about "Forgiveness."
Pretty clear what and who it is about.
Watching him and Stevie sing it - and he kept making hand gestures to her throughout the song, was just amazing.
Want to speculate about "Say Goodbye"? E-mail me and I'll post your comments.