Stevie Nicks Found ‘Edge of Seventeen’s ‘White Winged Dove’ Lyric on an Airplane Menu

Stevie Nicks found inspiration everywhere, including on odd things like airplane menus. However, Nicks’ hit “Edge of Seventeen” was the product of many different forms of inspiration.

When radios all over America played the tune repeatedly, the line everyone remembered was “Just like the white winged dove/ Sings a song, sounds like she’s singing/ Ooh, ooh, ooh.”

Stevie Nicks performing in black during a U.S. festival in 1983.
Stevie Nicks | Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS/VCG via Getty Images

Stevie Nicks found ‘Edge of Seventeen’s ‘white winged dove’ lyrics on an airplane menu

In 2020, Nicks tweeted about the origins of the “white winged dove” lyric that appears in Bella Donna‘s “Edge of Seventeen.” She explained she found the words printed on an airplane menu.

Nicks wrote, “In 1980 I was flying home from Phoenix Arizona and I was handed a menu that said, ‘The white wing dove sings a song that sounds like she’s singing ooh, ooh, ooh. She makes her home here in the great Saguaro cactus that provides shelter and protection for her…”

Nicks added that she found a dove near her house and heard it sing. She posted a video of the bird as well. “As you well know, I was very taken with that whole picture and went on to write ‘Edge of Seventeen,'” Nicks continued. “But over the last 40 years I can honestly say, I have never heard a dove sing~ until now.

“Several days ago, outside my room, I started to hear the sound of a bird singing the same thing over and over. One little Ahhh~ and then three OOH’s~ over and over again. I thought it was an owl, but a friend said, ‘No, that’s a dove!

“I started to cry. This dove had come here to watch over me. So we filmed her singing her song & I’m sending her out to you. With love, Stevie Nicks. p.s. She’s been here for days. I think she’s here for good.”

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Nicks said ‘Edge of Seventeen’s lyrics inspired Prince

In an interview for the New Yorker, Nicks elaborated on finding the “Edge of Seventeen” lyrics. She added that it inspired Prince to write his 1984 hit “When Doves Cry.”

“Coming from Phoenix to here,” Nicks explained. “And who knew that the white-winged dove was this bird in Phoenix, or in Arizona, that made its home in the saguaro cactus, because it was protected in there? I didn’t really know anything about doves or pigeons or whatever you want to call them.

“But they literally said, ‘This bird, when it makes a sound, sounds like it’s saying ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh,” right? And then I instantly went into writing that song, which then ended up being about Tom Petty and John Lennon and a bunch of people.

“But think about this: the white-winged dove really inspired Prince to write ‘This is what it sounds like when doves cry.’

“You just want to say to people exactly that—just open up, so that if you do drive under that sign that says Silver Spring… I had never seen that sign before, nor had I ever heard of Silver Spring, Maryland, or wherever it is.

“And as my head passed under that sign I just went, O.K., note Silver Spring. And I just immediately went and wrote that song.”

So, if you open up more, you might find inspiration for a song like Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen.”

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‘Edge of Seventeen’ comes from something Tom Petty’s wife said

During the recording of Bella Donna, Nicks was hanging out with Tom Petty and his first wife, Jane Benyo. Nicks asked when Jane met Petty. Jane’s response unexpectedly triggered some inside Nicks.

“I asked Tom’s wife, Jane, when she met him,” Nicks told Billboard. “She said, ‘I met him at some point during the age of 17.’ But I thought she said, ‘The edge of 17.’ I said, ‘Jane, can I use that? Can I write a song called ‘Edge of Seventeen’?”

So, Nicks went home and wrote “Edge of Seventeen.” 

She based on John Lennon’s murder. Nicks later told Entertainment Weekly that the white dove represented John and peace. Now, the song means something else to Nicks.

She thinks of soldiers in the desert when she performs “Edge of Seventeen” because she’s sung it so many times to the soldiers she visited at Bethesda and Walter Reed.

However, most people don’t know that Petty inspired the song too. “‘Edge of Seventeen’ is also a little bit about Tom,” Nicks continued to Billboard. “‘He seemed broken hearted/ Somethin’ within him,’ that was Jane talking about Tom. I bet a lot of people thought I was talking about me, but I was chronicling their relationship as she told it to me.”

Apparently, no one can say a thing to Nicks without the possibility of her might transforming it into a hit song. That’s OK with fans, though, as long as they get more great tunes.

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