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Album: RumoursReleased: 1977
Stevie Nicks wrote this song and sang lead. While Nicks has never been clear on the meaning, you can make a good case that it is about cocaine, which the band was consuming in quantity during the Rumours sessions. The lyrics, "Take your silver spoon, dig your grave," can be seen as a reference to a spoon holding the drug.
Nicks' relationship with Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham may also have influenced the song, as they had broken up and were going through some very difficult times, using songs as a medium for expressing their feelings to each other.
In Mick Fleetwood's book My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac
, he explains that it took Nicks eight takes to get the vocal right, and they were recorded early in the morning. Fleetwood described Nicks as "hunched over in a chair, alternately choosing from her supply of tissues, a Vicks inhaler, a box of lozenges for her sore throat and a bottle of mineral water."
Cris Morris, who was a recording assistant on the sessions, explained in Q magazine: "Recording 'Gold Dust Woman' was one of the great moments because Stevie was very passionate about getting that vocal right. It seemed like it was directed straight at Lindsey and she was letting it all out. She worked right through the night on it, and finally did it after loads of takes. The wailing, the animal sounds and the breaking glass were all added later. Five or six months into it, once John had got his parts down, Lindsey spent weeks in the studio adding guitar parts, and that's what really gave the album its texture."
Among the artists who have recorded this song: Waylon Jennings, Hole, Sheryl Crow and Sister Hazel.
Lindsay Buckingham plays a Dobro on this track. The Dobeo is an acoustic guitar with a single resonator with its concave surface uppermost. The inventor of the resonator guitar, John Dopyera, together with his brothers Rudy, Emile, Robert, and Louis, developed the Dobro in 1928. They named it as a contraction of Dopyera Brothers' coupled with the meaning of "goodness" in their native Slovak language. Gibson acquired exclusive use of the Dobro trademark in 1993 and the guitar corporation currently produces several round sound hole models under the Dobro name. One of these ornate guitars is featured on the cover of Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms.
On Fleetwood Mac's 2014-2015 tour, they did an extended version of this song that often stretched past 10 minutes, with Stevie Nicks losing herself in the music during the long instrumental break. She would often feel the effects the next day, as the dancing took a toll on her back. Speaking with Rolling Stone, she explained: "It's the drug addict in 'Gold Dust Woman' who is breaking her back. She's out there looking for drugs, and I'm trying to create that situation onstage so people get what it's about, which was a very heavy, bad time in my life."