By KEVIN O'HARE
Stevie Nicks is one busy woman these days.
She's in the early stages of a major tour with her longtime band Fleetwood Mac and she's also just released a superb new solo DVD, "Live in Chicago," with a companion CD, "The Soundstage Sessions."
"Better to be busy than bored," she said during a brief break in the tour recently, when she had a chance to talk about many topics, including her solo career, her days as a waitress, memories of her late father and the truth behind all those rumors about Sheryl Crow's reported flirtations with becoming a member of Fleetwood Mac.
Q: I was really struck by the version of Dave Matthews' "Crash into Me" on your new solo DVD. It seems like that song is originally so much from a guy's viewpoint, complete with those erotic lyrics. What motivated you to do that song?
A: Dave's "Crash" came out in 1997 right when we (Fleetwood Mac) were getting ready to go on the road to do "The Dance." And I just totally fell in love with that song. I told everybody, "Someday I'm gonna record that song." And everybody's answer to that was, "You can't really do that, it's a man's song, you can't do it." So I said, "I've heard everything from you guys I need to hear, I'll move on," but I didn't. What I did was I waited 10 years and then I just decided I'd look at the words. It's kind of a twisted song anyway, and I would just twist it a little further. So I did, I twisted it around so it could be a woman's song. Then I added the little part at the end which is really just the beginning.
I invited Dave Matthews to come and do that song with me, but his wife was having a baby so that was not going to happen.
But I spent about 30 hours listening to the song, so I said "I'm just going to do it anyway." I called up (her guitarist) Waddy Wachtel and told him, and he called up the band and everybody got the Dave Matthews' song and we tried to remain exactly loyal to Dave's version. It was truly one of the most funnest things I have done in 30 years. I loved it.
Q: On "Live in Chicago," you talk about what a huge step it was for you to go out on your own in 1981 and that everyone thought Fleetwood Mac was going to break up. What made you convinced at that time that you could make the jump and still keep everything else going?
A: First of all, and I tell everybody this, when you go to make a solo record and you're in a big band, don't break up your band. Don't tell. Don't even think about telling the world that your band is breaking up because that's crazy. You can always have a solo career and be in your band. In my estimation at that time, I felt like, so if the solo thing doesn't work, I'm still in Fleetwood Mac, 'cause Fleetwood Mac did not break up. I went into it with that philosophy that I would make this record and if it worked, great - I'd have both. If it didn't work, I'd just go back to Fleetwood Mac and I'd be fine.
Q: And they were OK with that?
A: I made that extremely clear to everybody in Fleetwood Mac that I was not leaving the band. I think they understood that and accepted that. They knew for years that I didn't have enough of a vehicle for all the songs I wrote. I'd be in there like Linus, or whichever one of the Charlie Brown people played the piano - I would be in there playing away every time we would do a record, writing songs, writing songs, and then you'd only get to do three or four songs on every record and then it'd be another two or three years before you'd do another record.
So I was writing away every day and it was like all these songs I was writing were going in the vault. So the vault's filling up by 1979 and I have all these songs that I think are major good. I'm like, "What do I do here? Should I just stop writing?" (Fleetwood Mac's) Christine McVie would walk by me and she'd say (Nicks goes into British accent) "Oh she's writing another song. Oh she's writing another song. We don't need another song Stevie, we have millions of songs already. We can't start over here." And I was like, "You're right, we can't."
So, finally, between 1975, '76, '77, '78 and into '79, I started thinking about making a solo record. I told everyone in Fleetwood Mac that this has nothing to do with me wanting to have a solo career and everything to do with me wanting another vehicle for my other songs that you guys can't use. And they understood that.
Q: There's a very emotional version of "Landslide" on "Live in Chicago," and you talk a lot about your dad who passed away in 2005. The audience gets to see a lot of great visuals of the two of you and him on the big screen as well. How difficult was it for you to do that on stage every night?
A: It wasn't that difficult every night because I never turned around and looked at those pictures. Never. That whole thing came from, well, when my dad died we did not have a funeral. We had a party at the Phoenix Biltmore Hotel, a "Dress up in your diamonds and your black velvet" party. There were about 300 people there at the ballroom. More or less, we played that (same visual presentation). It was fantastic and it was exactly what my father would have wanted. It was this beautiful celebration. I did cry when I watched it at his celebration.
But when I decided to use it to go behind "Landslide," because "Landslide" was his favorite song, I literally never turned around. So I could say, "This is for my dad and we lost him a couple of years ago but it's cool because he's here. I'm going to share a couple of our moments with you." So I took a very high road on it.
However in Chicago, there was a "Landslide" we did after the show with the strings, and the camera crew going around Waddy and the girls. Waddy was very close to my dad because all my people were very close to Jess (Nicks' father). I'd known Waddy since 1971 so Waddy had known my dad since 1971. We only filmed it once, this was just a special thing because the strings did not play in the show, but they did play for that because we knew we wanted some extra things for the DVD. I said to Waddy right before, "Y'know what? I think I'm going to have to let go of my dad now. It's been three years and I think it's time for me to say goodbye to him." Which doesn't mean he's still not in my heart, which doesn't mean at the bottom of my journal entry every single night I do not say "Goodnight Daddy" 'cause I do. I looked Waddy straight in the eye and he looked back at me and we just kind of put our hands on each other's shoulders and said "all right, this really is for Jess." So that filming of that song was very precious. And now behind "Landslide," all those pictures aren't there. It was a moment and we got it on film and it's very different than the one in the show.
Q: On the DVD, you talk about how you went back to being a waitress after Polydor dropped you and Lindsey Buckingham after your "Buckingham Nicks" album in 1973. What was your experience like as a waitress and what did it teach you?
A: I loved being a waitress ... I did lunches, I was only gone from 11 to 4, I made good money I came home with good money - it was enough to pay our rent and it was enough to pay our food and it was enough to pay for our Toyota that had no reverse. It was enough for us to call Triple A to get us out of the parking places we couldn't get out of because we had no reverse. We could never go backward, that's how we looked at it. We always had to go forward, we're always progressing. It was very funny and I didn't mind. Because it left Lindsey completely free to do what he did best which was record those tracks. I got home at 4 and I'd make dinner and we would go downstairs and record until two or three in the morning, and then get back up the next day. I worked four days a week, it was not hard. It was an easy thing. It was fun and I made really great money and I had no problem being the breadwinner because really, what was Lindsey Buckingham going to do? Be a waiter? I don't think so. He tried telemarketing for one day and the first person who hung up on him that was it, he quit. We came through it with a great laugh.
Q: Vanessa Carlton sings a couple of duets with you on the new recording. How did you decide that she was someone you wanted to collaborate with?
A: Because she's my favorite and I just love her. She's completely crazy and she's completely modernist 2009. She could care less about record companies or record deals or what people want. She's all about writing exactly what she wants. She's extreme and I just adore her because of that. I give her advice, she totally doesn't take it. I tell her what I think, she listens and does the exact opposite thing. I love her for that, because she's me in a lot of ways. I think she's extremely talented and I love her voice. If she wanted to be a big rock star she could, but she has kind of chosen to take the avant-garde way and she's made that choice. She's had the big record deals and she has been the one to walk because she has decided that's not for her. One day she's moving to Costa Rica, the next day she's taking a backpack and going to New Zealand. We're kind of sisters in a weird way but whatever it is it's an amazing relationship.
Q: From your viewpoint, what's the deal with the stories concerning Sheryl Crow almost joining Fleetwood Mac? Did it fall apart because she talked about it before it was official?
A: No. It fell apart because in the long run, coming up about six months before we went into rehearsal, we set up a rehearsal thing for two days. It was last Mother's Day. Sheryl had invited her entire huge family to be with her on her first Mother's Day with her baby. I told her it was really important that she come (to the rehearsal). She just couldn't get out of it. We had a long talk on the phone and I said "If you're in Fleetwood Mac it's like joining the National Guard - thinking you're going to be there for just one weekend a month and then you're deployed to Afghanistan." I said, "Sheryl, understand, there are no holidays, there are no days off, it's like you're in the Army now." She said "Are you trying to talk me out of this?" I said "No honey I'm not. But this is me, your friend saying I don't think this is the right thing for you. Now Stevie Nicks, the girl who loves singing with you, is very disappointed. But if you're asking me what I think, I think right now in your life it's too much for you." She said "OK, I'm gonna think about it." That was on Friday. She called back on Sunday and said "Stevie, I'm going to have to take a pass." I said, "I think that's the right decision." Because Sheryl is my friend and I love her so I want the best for her.
Q: On stage in Connecticut, Lindsey hinted that there might be a Fleetwood Mac studio album in the works. Is that the plan or what's next on your agenda?
A: The plan is to get through the next 40 shows. And then, of course, they always tack shows on, so God knows it could be 40 shows and then another tacked on 40 shows. So it will end up being 135 shows and it was supposed to be 40 shows. When this tour is over we will make that decision. Right now we're on the road, we're working hard, and this is a big, big rock tour. So we're not making that decision yet. If it works out, it will work out, and if it doesn't, it won't, and that's really all I can tell you. I just don't know.
Q: Anything you'd like to add?
A: Nothing except that it's really fun what we're doing here right now. I think the show is really a great show and I hope people will come out to see us. We've been doing this a long time and it's really great to look out there and see generations of people. We see 14-year-old people and we see 90-year-old people. It's really great. I look at this whole thing as a gift. So I hope everybody comes and hangs out with us and shares the gift with us.