Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Leather and Lace:" a timeless love song

My husband and I are always discussing music and the meaning of lyrics and the symbolism painted by the songwriter. One day “Leather and Lace” by Stevie Nicks came up in conversation. The song features Don Henley and was recorded for her first solo album, Bella Donna (1981) and has been her most popular song. Stevie Nicks originally wrote the song for Waylon Jennings to sing with his wife, Jessie Colter. After the breakup of Jennings and his wife, Nicks decided to record it herself and asked Henley to sing with her as she always envisioned this song as a duet. My husband saw this song as a love song and I decided to pay closer attention to the lyrics.

The song opens with a woman asking a question. She asks is “love so fragile” and “the heart so hollow” that simple words can shatter them. It is true that words can cut very deep into the heart and relationships are often destroyed over words. Love can be fragile. Fragile that it takes great care and work to have a relationship work. It takes compromise and often place someone else’s needs before your own. The woman has been called fragile and she’s trying not to be. She continues that she has her own life and she’s stronger than he knows. She claims that when their relationship began, she had a feeling that he wouldn’t leave and their relationship was forever.

The chorus has the woman continues that they are lovers together no matter where they are in the world, “my city or mountains.” She needs him to love her and needs him to stay. She wants him to give her his leather. Leather is a durable and flexible material which has the image of ruggedness and manliness. It has the image of toughness. While lace is a delicate fabric made of yard or thread which has the image of femininity and grace. It has the image of delicateness and softness. I see him giving her his leather as a way to say, give me some of your toughness and she’ll give him some of her tenderness.

The third verse opens as the man enters the duet. He responds with a memory of seeing her in the moonlight, half asleep and he wonders how she “could ever love a man like me?” He agrees that he never wants to leave. He tells her that sometimes he’s strong, sometimes he’s cold and scared and sometimes he cries but with her by his side, he knows he’ll make it through the night. I love this image as the man admits that he can be strong and he can be cold and scared and he cries sometimes. Men are often raised to be strong and so no weakness or vulnerability and in the song, he is admitting that he feels scared and vulnerable sometimes. I also loves that he adds that her presence helps him have the ability to get through the “night,” a symbol for dark situations in life.

“Leather and Lace” is a beautifully honest song which is not sappy as some love songs can be. When I hear this song, I’ve reminded of me and my husband. I’m very much like the woman in the song. I often wear my heart on my sleeve and can be very delicate; however, I am tougher than I appear and I often have a thicker skin than some people realize. My husband is like the man in the song. He is very tough but he also can be vulnerable. Together, we fill in what the other lacks as the song displays so beautifully.