What is there left to say about Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours at this stage? It is a veritable blueprint of what a perfect pop album should sound like, and the drama surrounding it is as iconic as the record itself. Unsurprisingly, its most beloved track and the one that’s spawned the most cover attempts is Stevie Nicks’ incandescent “Dreams”…which makes sense, for beyond its general evergreen perfection, it’s kind of foolproof, with strong enough bones to withstand even the most experimental cover attempts. But that fact makes it even more impressive when someone takes on one of the deeper cuts (though I suppose in the case of the ubiquitous Rumours, we should just refer to them as ‘non-singles’)…like the dark queen-Grande dame that is “Gold Dust Woman.”
Lindsey Buckingham once famously referred to “Gold Dust Woman” as “an evil song,” and his sinewy groove of a guitar line supports that notion tenfold. Sinister and ominous, equal parts pop song and exorcism, Stevie herself explained later it was “My symbolic look at somebody going through a bad relationship and doing a lot of drugs and trying just to make it, trying to live. That song was about a very heavy, very bad time in my life.”
Composer, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Julia Holter recorded her version of the song way back in 2012 (for a MOJO Magazine curated Fleetwood Mac tribute CD called Rumors Revisited). Up until last week the song had only been available as part of that compilation, but it’s now officially available through the streaming services. Holter added that she’d “always wanted to release it” and describes it as a “rough home recording with the raw energy of that time for me when I first started touring and playing my music outside of LA with a band.” It also happens to be one of the finest covers of the song ever recorded. Holter’s “Gold Dust Woman” is spare, hymnal and utterly spellbinding. There’s a quiet urgency to it, a chilliness that pulls it miles away from the smoky grittiness of the original, and it’s absolutely entrancing.