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Single by Fleetwood Mac
from the album Tusk
B-side" That's Enough for Me"
ReleasedDecember 5, 1979
Genre Folk rock, soft rock
Length6:22 (full album version)
4:37 (single edit) [1]
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Stevie Nicks
Producer(s)Fleetwood Mac, Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat
Fleetwood Mac singles chronology
" Tusk"
" Not That Funny"
Music video
"Sara - Fleetwood Mac" on YouTube

"Sara" is a song written by singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks of the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, which was released as a single from the 1979 Tusk double LP. The vinyl album version length is 6 minutes 22 seconds, and the edited single version length is 4 minutes 37 seconds. The song peaked at No. 7 in the US for three weeks, No. 37 in the UK for two weeks, No. 11 in Australia, and No. 12 in Canada.


"Sara" was originally conceived as a poem without any music attached to it, although Nicks later came up with a chord progression and melody to accompany it. Nicks told Fleetwood Mac engineer Hernán Rojas that the song came to her while she was doing ballet with a Russian teacher while listening to Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygène. [2]

Speaking in a radio interview for the Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance in the early 1990s, Stevie Nicks said the song was partially written about her good friend, Sara Recor, who later married Nicks' ex-lover and bandmate, Mick Fleetwood. [3]

However, Nicks' former boyfriend Don Henley claimed that the song is about their unborn child. [4] In 1979, Nicks said, "If I ever have a little girl, I will name her Sara. It's a very special name to me." In a 2014 Billboard interview Nicks said, "Had I married Don and had that baby, and had she been a girl, I would have named her Sara... It's accurate, but not the entirety of it." [5]

In his 2014 autobiography, Fleetwood agreed with the suggestion that the song referred to an affair with a friend named Sara which ended his own relationship with Nicks. Fleetwood and Nicks had been involved in a romantic relationship in the late 1970s. The lyrics, "and he was just like a great dark wing/within the wings of a storm" refer to Fleetwood being an emotional comfort zone for Nicks following her breakup with fellow band member Lindsey Buckingham. [6] Although the relationship was not exclusive on either side, Fleetwood states that Nicks became upset when she learned of Fleetwood's relationship with her best friend, Sara. This relationship effectively ended the romance between Nicks and Fleetwood. [7]


"Sara" began as a 16-minute demo with Sara Recor by her side. "[She] kept the cassettes coming and made sure we didn't run out of batteries, and it was a long, long night recording that demo." Upon completing the demo, she showed the 16-minute song to J.D. Souther and Don Henley, who both said "You know what, it's almost not too long. It's almost good in its full 16 minuteness–it's got all these great verses and it just kinda travels the world of your relationships." While Nicks knew she had to edit it down, she struggled to bring the song under seven minutes. [8]

Rojas and producer Ken Caillat heard the cassette for "Sara" and encouraged Nicks to refine it further so she could present it to the rest of the band. Rojas suggested to Nicks that they record another demo on a Sunday, which she agreed to. [9] Tom Moncrieff, who later played bass on Nicks' Bella Donna album in 1981, assisted with the recording of the new demo at The Village Recorders by providing acoustic guitars and bass. [10] Moncrieff's girlfriend, Annie McLoone, also sang backing vocals. [2]

Originally, the band wanted Christine McVie to redo Nicks' piano part and planned for Nicks to record a new vocal take, but upon listening to the recording, they realized that "the timing of it was so individual-there was no way Chris could get in there." Nicks' piano leaked into her vocal mic, which made it difficult to separate the vocals and piano. Some of the other members objected to the use of Nicks' vocals and piano; they believed that the timing was "all over the place", so Fleetwood decided to play brushes on the recording instead of drum sticks to allow for a more fluid drum performance. Fleetwood spent around 24 hours "dropping in phrases, schmoozing my way around her timing... that's the track that survived, with Stevie playing the piano". [8]

John McVie later replaced Moncrieff's bass track, although Moncrieff claimed that some of his acoustic guitar playing was retained in the final mix. [10] Caillat also invited Christine McVie back to the studio to record a second piano part. The two piano tracks were then hard- panned to separate channels. [9]


Cash Box called "Sara" "a lush, entrancing Stevie Nicks composition, with effectively echoed lead vocals by Nicks" and called the arrangement "glistening". [11] Record World said that "While Stevie's vocals haunt, the inimitable McVie-Fleetwood rhythm section hypnotizes." [12] Matthew Fiander of PopMatters described the single-edit of "Sara" as a "claustrophobic four-ish minutes", but was more complimentary of both the 6:22 version and the extended mix found on the deluxe edition of Tusk. [13] Tyler Golsen of Far Out Magazine wrote that the song "acts as one long crescendo, never once rushing its way to the explosive finale" and is "one of the many anchors that keep Tusk from flying off into some other dimension." [14] The Guardian and Paste ranked the song number five and number 15 respectively on their lists of the 30 greatest Fleetwood Mac songs. [15] [16]


The version of the song featured on the original vinyl release of Tusk was the unedited 6:22 version, but when Tusk was first released as a single compact disc in 1987 it featured the edited single version, which leaves out the middle verse and musical bridge. It was not until the 1988 Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits compilation was released that the 6:22 version of the song became available on compact disc. [17]

There is also a version known as "the cleaning lady" edit, so-called as Nicks is heard at the beginning of the demo recording, "I don't want to be a cleaning lady!" This version lasts almost nine minutes and was released on the 2-disc remastered version Tusk in March 2004. The song contains an extended vamp, which includes excised lines previously only heard in live performances, such as, "and the wind became crazy", "no sorrow for sorrow, you can have no more", and "swallow all your pride, don't you ever change—never change".

On 5 November 2015, a live version was released as part of a remastered Tusk. This recording features a heavier hitting drum beat from Fleetwood. [18]

The 2018 Fleetwood Mac 50 Years – Don't Stop album includes a remastered single version of the song that runs 4:37.

Plagiarism suit

In 1980, Nicks was sued for plagiarism by a songwriter who had submitted a song called "Sara", which she had sent to Warner Bros. in 1978. Nicks showed that she had written and recorded a demo version of the song in July 1978, before the lyrics were sent to Warner, and the complainant accepted that no plagiarism had occurred. [19]



Weekly charts

Weekly chart performance for "Sara"
Chart (1979–1980) Peak
Australia ( Kent Music Report) 11
Belgium ( Ultratop 50 Flanders) [20] 14
Canada Top Singles ( RPM) [21] 12
Canada Adult Contemporary ( RPM) [22] 3
French Singles Chart 31
Germany ( Official German Charts) [23] 44
Netherlands ( Single Top 100) [24] 14
New Zealand ( Recorded Music NZ) [25] 12
South African Singles Chart 18
UK Singles ( OCC) [26] 37
US Billboard Hot 100 [27] 7
US Adult Contemporary ( Billboard) [28] 13

Year-end charts

Year-end chart performance for "Sara"
Chart (1980) Rank
Australia (Kent Music Report) [29] 99
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard) [30] 87


Certifications for "Sara"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom ( BPI) [31] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Everett, Walter (May 2010). "'If you're gonna have a hit': Intratextual mixes and edits of pop recordings". Popular Music. 29 (2): 244. doi: 10.1017/S026114301000005X. JSTOR  40926920. S2CID  162240986.
  2. ^ a b Caillat, Ken; Rojas, Hernan (2019). Get Tusked: The Inside Story of Fleetwood Mac's Most Anticipated Album. Guilford, Connecticut: Backbeat Books. pp. 50, 159, 161. ISBN  978-1-4930-5983-6.
  3. ^ Nicks, Stevie (May 1994). "Stevie Nicks on Sara". Stevie Nicks In Her Own Words. Interviewed by Tommy Vance. Retrieved 16 March 2021. 'I sat up with a very good friend of mine whose name is Sara, who was married to Mick Fleetwood. She likes to think it's completely about her, but it's really not completely about her. It's about me, about her, about Mick, about Fleetwood Mac. Its about all of us at that point. There's little bits about each one of us in that song and when it had all the other verses it really covered a vast bunch of people. Sara was the kind of song you could fall in love with, because I fell in love with it...
  4. ^ "Fleetwood Mac". Fleetwood Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014. Years later, Henley had this to say about his affair with Nicks: "[Stevie had] named the unborn kid Sara, and she had an abortion." She then wrote the song of the same name (which became a huge hit for her) and, according to Henley, dedicated it "to the spirit of the aborted baby"
  5. ^ "Stevie Nicks on Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, and Don Henley". Billboard. 26 September 2014.
  6. ^ Fleetwood, Mick; Bozza, Anthony (2014). Play On: Now, Then & Fleetwood Mac: The Autobiography. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN  978-1-444-75325-7.
  7. ^ Brown, Mick (7 September 2007). "Stevie Nicks: a survivor's story". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN  0307-1235. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Irvin, Jim (2016). Tusk (2015 Remastered Deluxe Edition) (liner notes). Fleetwood Mac. Los Angeles: Warner Bros. Records Inc. p. 14. Publisher Warner Bros #2HS-3350.
  9. ^ a b Patrick Foster and Jim Lenahan (23 October 2020). "Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' - An Interview with the Producer and Engineer". Rockin' the Suburbs (Podcast). Event occurs at 15:38, 19:16. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  10. ^ a b "Q&A Sessions - Tom Moncrieff: August 20, 2008, Page 1". Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  11. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 15 December 1979. p. 11. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. 15 December 1979. p. 1. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  13. ^ Fiander, Matthew (12 February 2016). "Fleetwood Mac: Tusk (Deluxe Edition)". PopMatters. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  14. ^ Golsen, Tyler (25 April 2023). "Fleetwood Mac - 'Tusk' album review". Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  15. ^ Petridis, Alexis (19 May 2022). "Fleetwood Mac's 30 greatest songs – ranked!". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  16. ^ Mitchell, Matt (7 August 2023). "The 30 Greatest Fleetwood Mac Songs". Paste. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  17. ^ "Sara – Fleetwood Mac". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  18. ^ Grow, Kory (5 November 2015). "Hear Fleetwood Mac's 'Real Pretty' Live 'Sara' From New 'Tusk' Box Set". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  19. ^ White, Timothy (3 September 1981). "With Her New Solo Album, Fleetwood Mac's Good Fairy Tries to Balance Two Careers – and Two Personalities". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  20. ^ " Fleetwood Mac – Sara" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  21. ^ " Top RPM Singles: Issue 9470a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  22. ^ " Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 9489." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  23. ^ " Fleetwood Mac – Sara" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  24. ^ " Fleetwood Mac – Sara" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  25. ^ " Fleetwood Mac – Sara". Top 40 Singles.
  26. ^ "Fleetwood Mac: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  27. ^ "Fleetwood Mac Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  28. ^ "Fleetwood Mac Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  29. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1980". Kent Music Report. 5 January 1981. Retrieved 17 January 2022 – via Imgur.
  30. ^ "1980 Talent in Action – Year End Charts : Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 92, no. 51. 20 December 1980. p. TIA-10. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Fleetwood Mac – Sara". British Phonographic Industry.