“Rhiannon Rings Like a Bell …”


Our Christmas day, this year, like every year, was spent with family on Gaby’s mother’s side. It’s always good holiday fun. But, this year’s highlight, for us, was some delightful banter with Gaby’s two teen second cousins, 11th grader Rhiannon and 9th grader Maddie. Rhiannon is the “smart one” with her mind set on college, while Maddie is the self-proclaimed “problem child” who discounts higher learning. But, Maddie will find her way, I’m sure. Everyone does, eventually. Well, everyone except for me!

Anyway, Rhiannon was named after the Fleetwood Mac song. Well, that or her mother, Shelly, is a big fan of Welsh mythology. I think it’s the song. Stevie Nicks was actually inspired to write “Rhiannon” after reading a novel called Triad by Mary Leader, then later learned of that novel’s connection to the Welsh legend.

Back in the early ’80s, I was an obsessive fan of solo Stevie Nicks. Her first 3 albums [Bella Donna (1981), The Wild Heart (1983) and Rock a Little (1985)] were part of the soundtrack of my youth. But, while “I Can’t Wait” (from Rock a Little) was climbing the charts in early 1986, I started my first semester at Bowling Green State University, discovered punk rock, and forgot about everything else for a long, long time. Read about the song that changed my life by clicking right HERE.

But, nine years earlier, my brother, my cousin and I were entranced by Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours (1977), as was everybody else who listened to good music at the time. Rumours had two Stevie Nicks classics: “Dreams” and “Gold Dust Woman”. The latter was covered amazingly well by Hole (1996) and Halestorm (2013). “Rhiannon”, my favorite Nicks-penned song, appeared on the band’s previous album, Fleetwood Mac (1975), along with another Stevie Nicks classic “Landslide”, which was also covered amazingly well by The Smashing Pumpkins (1994) and country’s Dixie Chicks (2002).

By the way, Natalie Maines (ex-Dixie Chicks) released her first solo album Mother in 2013, and, it’s not very country at all, with covers of songs originally by artists like Pink Floyd (“Mother”), Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder (“Without You”), The Jayhawks (“I’d Run Away”), and more. But, her cover of Jeff Buckly‘s “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” is nothing short of stunning (all 7 minutes of it!).

But, we’re talking about “Rhiannon”, right?

“Rhiannon” peaked at #11 in June 1976, and has since become a staple of classic rock radio, as well as one of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time according to Rolling Stone magazine. The song’s most distinctive feature, other than Stevie Nicks‘ raspy impassioned vocals, is that unforgettable ringing guitar riff. Nicks, because of that song, became mistakenly associated with witchcraft. However, Rhiannon, in the collection of prose called the Mabinogion, is more like a goddess associated with horses. Or something like that.

“Rhiannon” has been covered many times, but, all of them suck, except for one … by Superfly!

“Who the hell is Superfly?” you wonder. Well, Superfly is Shiho Ochi, a Japanese singer with a beautiful voice and an obsession with ’70s American rock. She includes covers of her favorite ’70s rock songs as B-sides on her singles, and “Rhiannon” was one of those covers. Superfly sings mostly in Japanese, but, her covers, obviously, are all sung in English – with an adorable accent! I love the way she sings the word “girls” which sounds like “gurrs”. I wanted to include a video of Superfly‘s cover of “Rhiannon” here, but, none was produced, nor is there even audio to be found anywhere on YouTube. So, instead, watch this video for my favorite Superfly original:

Superfly sure is adorable, isn’t she? Did you hear her sing “gurrs” in the second verse [about 1:38]? Listen again! Or read more about her on Rock Chicks Rule! by clicking right HERE.


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