By Rick Massimo
Journal Pop Music Writer
Stevie Nicks hasn’t come out with a new studio record since 2001’s “Trouble in Shangri-La,” and she says that around 2005 she decided she wasn’t going to bother — people would simply take it off the Internet anyway. But last year’s 83-show Fleetwood Mac tour convinced her that the fans were out there, and Nicks has been readying a new disc that she hopes will come out in March.
For the first time, Nicks is collaborating with another songwriter, Dave Stewart, formerly of Eurythmics. Nicks calls him “my new best friend. He’s all four Beatles rolled into one.”
Their method of working together was natural and organic, Nicks says. They set up a studio in her living room, and a couple of weeks before they got together, Nicks sent him a book’s worth of poetry culled from her journals, “never in a million years thinking he would read it. But he did read it, so he hands me a poem and says [thick English accent] ‘OK, what about this poem?’ And first, I’m like, ‘Wow, he read it,’ and second of all, I’m like, ‘OK, they’re all my poems, so I like this one.’ So he starts playing guitar, and … I just started reciting in a sing-songy way, right off the top of my head. And in about 10 minutes, we had written a really great song.”
They’ve written nine songs together, “and seriously it’s been the most fun I’ve had since I was a teenager. It’s been an eye-opening experience. We sit, we laugh, we make dinners. It’s like the way we used to make records in the old days. It’s not like making an album with GarageBand in your closet.”
She’s also written five more typical “suffering Stevie songs … just me, sitting at my piano with tears in my eyes,” and says that working with Stewart, and her occasional long-distance collaboration with Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell, “opens up a whole new world of chords. I know four chords. And [they] know thousands. [I] can go places in your melody that I couldn’t go if I was playing the piano, because I can’t. I don’t know how.”
Nicks says that they’re shooting to get the record out March 1, and her fans are going to have to wait until then to be knocked out, because she isn’t going to do any of the new songs on the road. “We don’t want them to be filmed and on YouTube the next day. We want people to be surprised, and be listening to whole songs. I’m a girl who is all about mystery and surprise. I always want to keep my little jewel mysterious until I decide to flip the fairy dust in the air.…
“I think [my fans] are going to be knocked out.”
And even though live video grabs or even leaked studio tracks have been known to help a disc’s sales, Nicks says that’s not what she’s after: “I don’t really care if anybody buys this record. What I care about is the journey of making the record, and how much fun it has been for me.”
Though she hopes that after the disc comes out, people will buy it the old-fashioned way. “I’m pretty financially stable, so I’m gonna be OK. But what I try to put over to my fans is, try to support the music business, because it’s dying. Anybody who comes out with a new record, I can get it free from the record companies. But I don’t. I buy it, and every little thing that goes with it. Because I’m going to be that one person who does support the business.” Otherwise, “in 20 years, everybody’s going to be listening to — guess who? — Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones. There’s never going to be new music. It’s not going to last.”
Plenty of today’s young female singers and songwriters have cited Nicks as a musical and career influence, and Nicks says it’s a role she’s taken seriously ever since her first solo album, 1981’s “Bella Donna.”
“Absolutely,” says Nicks, who adds that she would have been a teacher if a musical career hadn’t worked out. “I try really hard to teach all these girls, or at least set an example for them.” She wants them to have their own style, but “watch what I’ve done, or how I’ve done it, and use that in their world of striving forward to be a big rock star.”
Mainly, she stresses the importance of writing one’s own material. You make more money that way, and otherwise “you’ll just be known as a singer of other people’s songs. And in my opinion, you should do it all. … So I have my little lecture periods with all of them.”
While we wait for the new disc, she’ll be performing Fleetwood Mac and solo hits. The first of the five shows Nicks is doing this month was a benefit for Cecelia, “a little girl with a difficult kind of cancer,” and she also made a special “Team Cecelia” T-shirt from one of her old drawings, which will be available at this weekend’s show.
And Nicks says she still gets the same charge out of performing that she always has.
“How can you not? … It never gets old.”
Stevie Nicks sings at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods on Saturday night at 8. Call (866) 646-0609 or go to www.mgmatfoxwoods.com for tickets.