Watch: Stevie Nicks’ magical Halloween version of Rhiannon
Stevie Nicks put on a spectacular show for her fans on Halloween – and one song in particular thrilled the crowd at the special concert in Alabama.
Her version of the 1975 hit ‘Rhiannon’ is inspired by the magical otherworldly goddess from the Mabinogion – and Nicks looked suitably ethereal when she performed to an eerie backdrop at the concert.
The fabled tales from Wales have been a lifelong source of enchantment for the singer
Nicks often introduces the song on stage as “about an old Welsh witch” and also copyrights her songs ‘Welsh Witch Music’.
The genesis for this love affair with the tale from Wales, blossomed when the US star discovered the Rhiannon character in the early 1970s through a novel called Triad by Mary Bartlet Leader.
The novel is about a woman named Branwen who is possessed by another woman named Rhiannon. There is mention of the Welsh legend of Rhiannon in the novel, but the characters in the novel bear little resemblance to their original Welsh namesakes in the Mabinogion.
“It was just a stupid little paperback that I found somewhere at somebody’s house, lying on the couch,’ Nicks explained in an interview with Classic Rock magazine. “It was called ‘Triad’ and it was all about this girl who becomes possessed by a spirit named Rhiannon.
“I read the book, but I was so taken with that name that I thought, ‘I’ve got to write something about this.
“So I sat down at the piano and started this song about a woman that was all involved with these birds and magic.”
It was only after writing the song that Nicks learned about the legend of Rhiannon, and was amazed that the haunting song lyrics uncannily applied to her Welsh namesake.
A fan sent her four paperback novels in a Manila envelope five years after she first wrote ‘Rhiannon’ in 1973 that explored all the mythology behind the song.
Included in the envelope was Evangeline Walton’s adaptations of the Mabinogion, which Nicks then bought the rights to after being “transfixed” by the prose.
It was then the musician started to research the Mabinogion story and began work on a Rhiannon project, initially unsure of whether it would become a movie, a musical, a cartoon, a TV series or even a ballet.
Over the years there have been several Rhiannon-centred Stevie Nicks songs to emerge from this ongoing project, including ‘Stay Away’ and ‘Maker of Birds’: Nicks wrote the Fleetwood Mac song ‘Angel’ from the band’s 1979 album ‘Tusk’, based on the Rhiannon story.
The singer had revealed in interviews last year that working on a Rhiannon movie had been her priority after Fleetwood Mac had finished touring in 2019.
After intending the Rhiannon story to be adapted as a movie the project became so big in scope it’s now being turned into a television miniseries.
Nicks confirmed the plan in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times last year, telling the US newspaper that she has already signed a deal with a studio to make the miniseries, although she did not disclose which studio.
The ‘Rhiannon’ miniseries is set to explore the mythology and folklore surrounding the fabled story.
According to the Times, Nicks has 10 songs she never released that she is holding onto in order to include in the Rhiannon miniseries.
The musician said she had no plans to star in the project herself, although she revealed she is keen for her friend, One Direction star Harry Styles to appear.
Nicks told the Times that Styles “is definitely in the running,” adding, “I’m going, ‘Harry, you cannot age one day. You have to stay exactly as you are.’ I’ve already sold him on it.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.