Stevie Nicks on Her Fleetwood Mac ‘Team,’ Solo Joys and the 2016 Election
By Phoebe Reilly
Stevie Nicks says that one of her favorite things to do is light a candle, sit at the desk in her Los Angeles home and write poetry. Ms. Nicks, the rock ’n’ roll mystic who constitutes one-fifth of Fleetwood Mac’s classic lineup and wrote several of its most beloved hits (including “Dreams” and “Rhiannon”), is so prolific that six years after joining that multiplatinum California band in 1975, she embarked on a solo career with “Bella Donna,” which featured the memorable centerpiece “Edge of Seventeen.”
“In the beginning, I actually sat down and said, listen, I am doing this because I have way too many songs,” Ms. Nicks said. “I get frustrated because one of you walks by me every time I sit at the piano and says: ‘Oh my God, there she goes writing another song. We only need three or four from you.’ So what am I supposed to do?”
Eight solo albums later, Ms. Nicks, 68, is preparing to go on the road in support of her most recent releases, “In Your Dreams,” from 2011, and the 2014 album “24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault,” a collection of tracks written mainly between 1969 and 1987. A 28-city tour with the Pretenders as special guests begins on Oct. 25 in Phoenix. “I just woke up one morning and said I have two years off before Fleetwood Mac comes knocking on my door [for another tour],” she said. “Why would I want to sit around and do nothing?”
Fleetwood Mac has endured despite drug addictions and multiple intra-band relationships (and breakups) during the late ’70s, and recently completed a two-and-a-half-year, 122-date tour. (“I don’t twirl nearly as much as I used to,” said Ms. Nicks, whose past relationship with the guitarist Lindsey Buckingham provided a dose of drama.) When reached by phone, she was struggling to whittle down her set list. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
What’s the difference between touring behind your solo work and touring with Fleetwood Mac?
Fleetwood Mac is a team, and when you’re on a team everybody has the same vote — except in this particular team Lindsey has a little bit of a stronger vote than anybody else. I love being part of a team. We argue all the time, but we always have. In my band, there is no arguing. I am the boss. My solo career is probably the reason Fleetwood Mac is still together in 2016, because I was always happy to leave Fleetwood Mac, and I was always happy to come back, too.
You have said you thought Lindsey would like “24 Karat Gold” because so many of the songs are about him. What was his reaction?
Well, I don’t know. I don’t even know if he ever listened to the record and, honestly, I don’t care. I gave up caring about how everybody else in Fleetwood Mac feels about my solo work a long time ago. It’s not their thing. If my feelings were ever hurt, it was after “Bella Donna,” when I didn’t feel that anybody even listened to it. That was in 1981.
The ’80s have once again become a point of fascination in television shows like “Stranger Things.” Are you ever nostalgic?
I wouldn’t want to ever go back there. Yes, it was a lot of fun between 1975 and 1990 — until it wasn’t. I walk onstage every night now and do a three-hour show with Fleetwood Mac, and I have a great time up there. I wish I had known that I actually had the energy to do this entire set totally sober and get just as excited. On one hand, that makes me feel great and on the other it makes me sad that I ever did my first line of coke.
Your songs never lost the rawness associated with youthful emotion. Do you find that inspiration comes from your everyday life now, or is your imagination triggered by re-examining the past?
I would say both. Great stories inspire me. Some people have the ability to be extremely convincing, and other people can sing for 30 years and not convince you that they have lived a story. At 16 I could sing a love song well. My dad would go, “That’s a good song, honey.” And my mom would go, “That’s just beautiful, Stevie.” And they would be thinking, “We know for a fact that she’s only been on one date and she was back in two hours.”
“Don’t Stop” was the theme song of Bill Clinton’s campaign. What are your hopes for this election?
Of course I’m for Hillary Clinton. It’s hard to think of anything as amazing as that song was for Bill. He picked it out when he was driving around in a cab somewhere years before. When she wins by a landslide, I could gather together the Dixie Chicks, Billy Corgan and everybody who’s ever sung a version of “Landslide.” It’s not up-tempo, but it certainly would get the message across.
Are you a fan of Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga or any other major contemporary female artist?
I have so many favorites. I love Katy Perry. [And] I’m so happy for Adele right now. She’ll do what I did — she’ll figure out a way to stay in the business. The big difference between her and me is that she has a child, and that will change things for her, but I think Adele knows what she wants and I don’t think she’s in a hurry. And that’s great. If she needs to go away for three years, she doesn’t feel like somebody’s going to take her place. When you believe in yourself that much, you can take as long as you want.
A version of this article appears in print on September 6, 2016, on page C3 of the New York edition