This song is about Stevie's visit to the Betty Ford Center when she was getting treated for her addiction to cocaine. She used the name "Sara Anderson" when she checked into it. When she gets there, she's disoriented, not understanding what's happening to her. She didn't even want to go there, she feels out of control, whether from drugs or from how her life's going, or both. The comparisons to Gone with the Wind are interesting - I've always thought the Lindsey/Stevie relationship mirrored the Rhett/Scarlett one in many ways (see my analysis of No Questions Asked). In that scenario, Stevie would think of herself as Scarlett. Now, however, at Betty Ford, Stevie is forced to confront the other side of her fame and the choices she's made, the lifestyle she's chosen. Welcome to reality - "welcome to the room, Sara."
The second verse refers to the people at the Betty Ford center as missionaries because they're trying to "save" her. Almost sarcastically, she tells them they can brag to everybody that they were the ones who got Stevie Nicks off of coke....but she's still not happy. She lives in a "big old house", all by herself - "the stars may laugh" but their fame is all they have, they don't have love. (By the way, these lyrics originally appeared word for word in Blue Lamp. Perhaps she does this because both songs refer to the shallowness of people who are caught up in fame...or maybe she just thought they sounded good).
She says "Of course it was a problem." Of course her drug problem was getting out of control, but it's more complex than just getting off drugs to solve what's wrong with her. She doesn't have the one she thought was hers (of course, I think she means Lindsey). His love "held her prisoner", and though he knew her well, did he really understand what was going on with her? Did anyone? She seems so lonely at the end - the phone has been hung up on her - and she has "cease[d] to exist" for him. "Out of sight, out of mind"... and Lindsey's about to leave the band... she maybe off of coke, but everthing's NOT fine.
"Well...it's not home...and it's not Tara."
We all know that Tara was the mansion in "Gone With the Wind," and a beautiful mansion at that. Stevie's home is probably also a mansion, but entering rehab...her first thoughts are "This isn't the nicest place in the world...it's not beautiful...it's not luxurious...it's not inspiring. It's nothing that I'm used to."
"This is a dream, right? Deva vu...did I come here...on my own?"
This all seems so surreal to Stevie. She's so drugged out at the time, and this is such a nightmare for her. She didn't WANT to go to rehab. The fact is she didn't go on her own. She was pushed into doing it by Frontline Records and her family, as Mick said in his book. And the "Welcome to the Room, Sara..." is about Stevie coming into this place. She signed in under the name "Sara Anderson."
"Ooh, missionary...well I will be different when I get back...and you can take all of the credit..."
Stevie on one hand despises the people who made her go to this rehab, but then again...she considers them missionaries. They made an effort to save her life...and she will be different when she gets back. She will be drug free and able to see clearly, and they can take all of the credit.
"You say everything's fine baby..." I believe this may refer to conversations with Mick or maybe even Lindsey. Stevie may have called to check up on how the band was doing with the "Tango" album...and I'm sure they said "everything's fine." That's just my interpretation of that. And the "First cut is the deepest..." Maybe Stevie cut herself at night...to take out frustrations. That's one interpretation...or maybe she feels extremely betrayed that she was forced to go here...it's the first cut...and it is the deepest.
The "Of course it was a problem" line refers to her drug usage. Yeah, it had become a problem...a major one. Then, the line that makes most sense to me...is the "Frontline, baby...well, you held her prisoner...after all these years, well, as well as you knew her..." Frontline was Stevie's record company, as mentioned above. They forced her into rehab...and she's saying that Frontline held her prisoner and called her shots...and the decision was supposed to be hers. They knew her well...and should have known she didn't like being forced into things. Frontline was immediately fired after Stevie left Betty Ford, by the way.
I believe that this song is totally about her being in rehab and about the people who sent her there. Her mangers Frontline who made her go to rehab. "Frontline Baby... Well you held her prisioner and after all these years, well as well as you knew her". "In the never forgotton words of another one of your friends". I read once that Joe Walsh came into the studio and couldn't stop making jokes and Stevie was trying to make music. Well Joe was making everyone crack up laughing and they weren't taking the studio sessions seriously. She (Stevie) walked out on the session and she said that Joe Walsh said to her "If you walk out that door, then you will cease to exsist.". She never went back. This song is a combination of Betty Ford and her realtionship with Joe Walsh at that time. It's purely all about her rehab at Betty Ford Stay. That's my opinion.
Want to speculate about "Welcome to the Room...Sara"? E-mail me and I'll post your comments.