*The single version adds this verse to the end:
You will remember/But I will die a slow death/It's only an overture/To something that was best/And don't condescend to me/Take your leave/Take your leave/Take your leave of me now/Disappear into the air/I wish you gone/And I don't care/I don't care/I don't care/Take your leave of me now
1976 Demo Version Released on the Rumour Reissue (2004)
The beginning of this song is rather enigmatic, but is starts out with peaceful imagery - then time passes ("the days go by" as in If You Ever Did Believe and Edge of Seventeen), and now the "sky is on fire" and trouble is brewing. The more time passes, the more she thinks that she is losing herself (like in Sorcerer) and plunging into darkness (again, as in Sorcerer)....and Lindsey with her.
She wants that peace, but she and Lindsey are "changing" - especially her (i.e. Landslide, Crystal, etc.), and it's causing "strain" which is making her forget the "chill", the excitement and charge that come from their relationship (similar to the cold wind of No Questions Asked). She begins to regret the dream, not only of the perfect love, but the perfect life, because she sees that it's all falling apart, and the disappointment is so great she wishes she had never dreamed in the first place.
Of course, "You will never love again the way you love me/ You will never rule again the way you ruled me" has to be about Lindsey. The first lines of that are rather harsh, almost as if his strong love for her was something he should be punished for! Perhaps the next lines about his controlling nature, and they way he had power over her in their relationship, made her so resentful and bitter that she feels he should suffer (as in Silver Springs). And she does make a point of saying he'll never be able to control her like that again. It reminds me of that phrase from Gold Dust Woman: "Rulers make bad lovers." And in that song, she is rather harsh with him too! Hmm. There's the power struggle again, as in Trouble in Shangri-La. This seems to be a central issue regarding their breakup. Two rulers cannot be lovers, because they both want control.
I find the history of this song and how it has changed from the original demo to be significant when speculating about this song's meaning. It was written fairly soon after Lindsey and Stevie broke up, probably when they were in the thick of all of their drama and nastiness to each other. It was a very angry song. There is a verse that is missing from the final version: "...And don't condescend to me...take your leave, take your leave, take your leave from me...disappear, through the air...I wish you gone, and I do not care." What Stevie has done with the song has been to add some pleasant imagery to soften the tone of it. Maybe this is because, finally, her anger at Lindsey has faded, she has come to terms with him and their past, and she is able to see things in a different light.
I would like to comment about Stevie Nicks as a whole, and it may put better perspective on the song Planets of the Universe as well as others. I think she is a beautiful person, in that she sees what is not always visible. I think maybe her songs might have been intentionally written with Lindsey in mind; but relay more of a double message regarding the afterlife or that of one of enchantment. Most of her writing is a double message, and it is possible that she intends to write about the unknown and her feelings for Lindsey come out through the subconscious. I dont think the intentions are importent, rather that both messages are received. If I could meet her, I would ask her why she believes so strongly in enchantment, but feared death so much.
Written soon after Nicks and Buckingham split? How can a techno dance tune have been written in the 80's?
What I thought the song was about was the pseudo-Christian idea of the "Rapture." Because when Nicks sings, "You and I will simply disappear," this description is in line with the popular idea of the theorized removal of believers from the earth at the time of the "tribulation" (as vaguely hinted at in the book of "Revelation"). This, however, is apparently also a witchcraft concept, which goes along with the rumors of Nicks being a witch.
And the line about "We will never change again, the way we're changing," to me implies the sort of millennial changes shown in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey"--genetic changes--again, this being a "new age" or witchcraft concept, or a Nazi concept, for that matter.
Anyway, I've been a Stevie fan since "Edge of Seventeen" first came out, but it pissed me off when I thought that the song "Planets of the Universe" might be a deliberate description of this "Rapture" stuff.
But I am looking hard at everything these days for hidden meanings. And I have found some big hidden meanings.
ERICA C. speculates:
First off....this song was written in the 80s...maybe even late 70s...I've heard the demo...just because it has a techno sound now means nothing. Music can be changed. And the whole rapture idea might mean something to you...but the song's about Lindsey. The whole "Disappear out of sight" is a line of pure desperation, how they both feel they're nothing without the other at this point, and their careers could just...disappear...out of sight...
I heard on an interview with Stevie that this song was written right after Her and Lindsey ended their realationship and it was her furious and angry song towards the man that she was saving for a long time.
I'm not going to even bother speculating on this one. It's not worth it. I'm simply going to say what I think of the song. In a word: Yuck. Now I know this song was written a long time before it was actually released. Stevie has changed a lot since then and so decided that the song should change too. But in changing I believe it's lost much if not all of its meaning and beauty. The original version of this song is simple, poetic, and heartwrenching. It is quite simply the most beautiful song Stevie has ever written. It is a masterpiece. But only in its original, undefiled version. Stevie would have been wiser to simply leave this song untouched and unreleased than to change it as she has done.
Planets of the Universe is one of my all time favorite Stevie songs. It paints a picture in your head, it shows how bitter and angry Stevie was at that point in her life. She had just broken up with Lindsey, and was feeling the after affects of their love. She has said that this feeling only lasted for about 6 months. Although the anger and desperation expressed in this song didn't last long, it produced an awesome song called Planets of the Universe.
With the first verses, I think she's trying to explain what hers and Lindsey's love was like. The "bright light" represents their love, and how it was "at rest" and peaceful. Then the "days go by", and things start to change. "They (Lindsey and Stevie) go into the seas that have no shores" could mean that they've tried to make their love work so many times, but end up in "no shores". The "haunted by that same closed door" line refers back to Fall From Grace, which says "well I came all the way here just to watch you walk out that door". After their relationship during the Dance, Lindsey left Stevie for his future wife, and she was left looking at that closed door. She was "looking up at skies on fire, leaving nothing left for us to discover" There was nothing left, the love left as fast as it came.
The "and the planets of the universe go their way" line always reminded me of Go Your Own Way. Stevie and Lindsey are the "planets of the universe", and they're going their own way, away from each other. Now she expresses a feeling like "well it doesn't matter, because we'll just disappear in the end". That's how I take the lines "you and I will simply disappear", like all of this pain and hurt doesn't matter, it'll all add up to nothing in the end. But she's afraid soon there'll be "no light". That there will be no love at all, not even friendship. She doesn't want to lose Lindsey..she's afraid of losing him and the "light" that was their love.
She tries to lighten up the song again by saying "No doubt, no pain come ever again. Let there be light in this lifetime" She doesn't want that doubt and pain to go along with love. She just wants that "light" that comes in the "cool, silent moments of the nighttime". Again she mentions changing, like in so many of her songs. But this is an important change, she feels like the two of them will never change again the way they're changing now. Lindsey will forget the "chill of love, but not the strain". He'll eventually forget the anger that they both had, but he won't forget the problems they had, he won't forget the strain.
The next verse is like a turning point in the song, Stevie becomes very lost and very desperate. She feels like she was "wrong to live for a dream" and that if "she had her life to live over again, she would never dream". Those lines are some of the most desperate she has ever written, and it shows how much she was hurt by breaking up with Lindsey. She feels like without him, she can't dream and she was wrong to dream in the first place. If she hadn't had her dreams of music, she would've never gotten involved with Lindsey, therefore she wouldn't have this pain she's feeling. Now she'll "live alone" forever..without "no light".
The next verse is the lowest point of the song, the most bitter. "You will remember..but I will die a slow death" She feels that she'll die without Lindsey, but he will remember her. She almost commands him to remember her, she knows that he won't ever forget. She'll be in so much pain..it will be a "slow death". She'll still go on, but she'll be slowly dying inside without his love. Now she tries to make herself forget, saying "it's only an overture to something that was best". She's hoping that Lindsey and her were only the beginning, that she'll love better later on..but that never happened. I believe that Lindsey is still the love of her life, he wasn't "only an overture". Now she lashes out at him "and don't condescend to me..take your leave..take your leave..take your leave of me now" She doesn't want him to act like he's better than her, she's had enough and she just wants him to "take his leave". "Disappear into the air..I wish you gone and I don't care..I don't care" She's given up..she doesn't care anymore, she wants Lindsey to just "disappear" so she doesn't have to face him everyday. These lines are some of the angriest and bitterest Stevie's ever written, this song expresses how lost she really was.
For her last bit of lashing at Lindsey, she says "You will never love again the way you love me. You will never rule again the way you ruled me. You will never change again the way you're changing." She's basically saying that she's the best he's ever had and ever will have. I think she was right..and he's the best she's ever had since. And he's changing as well, the most he'll ever change. This closes off the song, giving a direct and harsh message to Lindsey. Not only is she angry at him, but she's also depressed and she doesn't know if she can go on.
When she was working on Trouble In Shangri-La, Stevie wrote the first few verses to soften the song and give it more hope. If you take away these verses, you have the original version of the song called No Light. In the final album version, she decided to take out the "you will remember, but I will die a slow death" verse, for obvious reasons. That is the angriest part of the song, the most painful for her. And since she's moved on from that feeling, she felt that it was too harsh to put on the album. She did, however, record it for the extended version on the single of Planets of the Universe. If you hear the song the whole way through, with all of the verses, it really does complete their story. She also renamed the song from "No Light" to "Planets of the Universe". Instead of taking a negative view on it, saying that there will be no light, or no love ever again, she renamed it Planets of the Universe. That title gives it a new perspective, that Lindsey and Stevie are the "planets of the universe", and that one day...they will love again.
Has anyone heard the expanded version of Rumours released in March 2004? This song is on disc 2 as a "demo" but sounded very finished, like they were at some point planning to put it on the album. You can tell this was recorded in the mid seventies by listening to her voice. Her voice was at its peak during this recording, and this version is VERY different from the Shangri-La version!! Nothing modern or techno. Many fans have said that Silver Springs is the best FM song ever left off a FM album, and I agreed until I heard this version of Planets. It's incredible! Many verses on the Shangri-La version are not here and some of the words are different. The first stanza beginning "The bright light is lying down", and the second stanza "They go into the seas that have no shores" are not on the original demo version. And the fourth stanza "no doubt, no pain" is missing as well. The song starts out with what would later become the chorus, "and the planets of the universe go their way". 'You will never love again" was originally "I will never love again", and "You will never change again the way you are changing" was originally "We will never change again the way we are changing". And "I will die a slow death" was "I will die slowly". The "don't condescend to me" part was in the original.
In giving my thoughts on this song, know that I am speculating based on the original demo written in the Rumours era. I think the is one of the saddest songs Stevie has ever written. When I listened to the original demo, I got the impression that it was written just after a particularly bad fight, maybe not just one of their typical fights, but one where Stevie and Lindsey each said things they knew would deeply hurt the other. There is a desperate, sad tone to her voice in the demo. I think she is saying she knows it's finally over, but she can't quite accept it yet. She isn't shy about telling Lindsey that she'll "never love again" the way she loved him. "You will never rule again the way you ruled" I think has a double meaning. He will never rule her career and choices again, as she is becoming more independent of him, but he also rules her whole world as in there isn't much she wouldn't do for him, he'll never find someone like that again.
"You will remember but I will die slowly"- Here Stevie is saying she feels Lindsey will only have a memory of her, but the breakup will affect her more profoundly, she feels like she'll die, slowly, without him. But she's still defiant, "don't condescend to me, take your leave..., Disappear..., I wish you gone, and I don't care." She's trying to convince herself and Lindsey that her freedom from his control is even more important to her than his love. The saddest part, she now knows she was "wrong to live for a dream". I think she always thought that she and Lindsey would be famous and happy, that as long as they were making music together, they would have no differences, they would be able to have the best of both worlds, fame and love, but now she realizes that was just a dream.
I know this is long, but I think this is one of the most significant songs about their relationship that Stevie has ever written. Very telling of what was going on at that time between them. Everyone should get a copy of the remastered, double disc Rumours if only to here this song in its original recording. Lindseys guitar at the end has a sweet sound but very sad.