Monday, March 30, 2009


Ever the rock gypsy, Stevie Nicks preps a new live album and DVD while touring with Fleetwood Mac

By John Russell 
Photo by Neal Preston

With over 30 years of touring under her leather and lace belt, Stevie Nicks is a bona fide rock ‘n’ roll road dog. But this month’s The Soundstage Sessions—released along with her new Live in Chicago DVD—is Nicks’ very first live album as a solo artist. Currently on tour with Fleetwood Mac, the luminous 60-year-old gypsy chatted with HX about life on the road with the boys in the band and why she’s never been to Night of a Thousand Stevies.

HX: For someone who tours as much as you do, it’s surprising that this is your first live solo album.

Stevie Nicks: I filmed my show in 1985 at Red Rocks in Boulder, Colarodo. And from then on, everything happened and happened and happened. Fleetwood Mac filmed in 1997 for The Dance and we filmed again in 2007 for Say You Will and somewhere in all of those years, even though I was touring in between all of those things, it just got lost, the idea to film my show. And when I finished touring in 2007, I just called my manager and said “Listen, I can’t move on until I film this show.” It started in Vegas with four shows at Celine Dion’s theater at the Colliseum at Caesar’s. It’s like, you just couldn’t take your little rock ’n’ roll band in there! I had to build that big world around that huge stage. So we went back to all our film and videos and we built a world. So PBS called and they said they would love to do it and we went to Chicago and filmed it at the Soundstage studios. It was just great, because, you know, you could take a little time between each song, so you could actually wear all the really great outfits that sometimes in a real show you just don’t have time to make those kind of changes. So I got to really do all the little images that I’ve created over the years. And it was really important to me to do that. First, because I think it’s such a spectacular show, and second, because the next time I go out on my own, I wanna do something really different. I wanna find some different songs in my repertoire and I wanna do maybe a little unplugged thing. Maybe I’ll play piano. But I couldn’t do that until this baby of mine was, you know, grown up, dressed and pushed out of the nest.

I heard that you were hesitant to play “Sara” for the taping because you consider it an exclusive Fleetwood Mac song. Are there others? What makes them sacred to Fleetwood Mac?

Well, had I known that Fleetwood Mac was going out on October 5, in 2007, I wouldn’t have filmed “Sara.” It’s fun to keep a few songs exclusive. Even though “Gold Dust Woman,” “Dreams,” “Rhiannon”—those are pretty darn exclusive Fleetwood Mac songs! But I’ve been doing them [solo] since 1982. So it’s kinda like, those songs just exist in all sets.

How do you decide which songs you put in a set list?

It really seems to have a lot to do with the time and what you’re doing and how everybody’s feeling. Some songs make great records and don’t transfer to stage very well. You know, you love one song one day and the next you want to put it away. When you have as many songs as we have between my solo work and Fleetwood Mac’s work you have a lot to choose from.

What do you think touring with Fleetwood Mac would be like if one of the guys was gay?

If one of us had been gay, I don’t think it would have mattered. I think it would have been fine. The love and respect that we have for each other would certainly have overridden any way that anyone would have felt about somebody being gay. I think we would have all been absolutely fine with that. It’s really about the music at that point.

What’s the worst practical joke they’ve ever played on you?

Well in the very beginning, I think it was the end of the Rumours tour, in Hawaii, somebody filled an entire hotel room with chickens and mud and chicken feed. And it was kind of a disaster. It was supposed to be really funny, but it really wasn’t very funny! [Laughs] That kind of stuff really doesn’t happen that much anymore. You have to remember everything else that was happening at that point. Everybody was drinking a lot, so when everybody’s goofed out and high you could say, “Let’s get a bunch of chickens and put them in the hotel room!” And not even think about the fact that you’re gonna spend $30,000 to clean up the room and get the chickens back to their home!

You’ve had some successful remixes of your early hits in the past few years. Did you ever think that 30 years later the gay boys would still be out at the clubs dancing to those songs?

You know, I always felt that “Stand Back” was such a great dance song that I was not surprised. It’s been dance-mixed a million times! It’s funny with my songs. Deep Dish, when they did “Dreams,” I think they never in a million years thought I would say, “Oh, I’m so down with doing a new vocal!” And they loved it so much that they just mixed it and mixed it and mixed it. And I did finally, laughingly say, “You guys have got to move on! I have many songs. If you want to do dance mixes I will just get the tapes out and you can just take them!”

So, Night of a Thousand Stevies is coming up in May, and there are die-hard fans who are convinced that you showed up one year in disguise.

I didn’t. I did not. But you know what? Sometimes I think I should just lie and say I did! The fact is that I’ve never been to a Night of a Thousand Stevies, not because I wouldn’t like to come. I would love to go. But I’m always working. And I’m usually working on something that I can’t get out of. And I live on the other side of the country. I would love to attend Night of a Thousand Stevies. And what I’d like to do is come in total Stevie disguise. Which of course nobody could do better than me! And one year, watch out all you people, I will be there! And you won’t know, so watch everything you say, because I could be lurking! [Laughs]

Does it ever hit you that you’re a cultural icon?
It probably doesn’t. Because, I play the gigs, I go back to the hotel. I don’t get to go out to clubs. I don’t even get to go out to dinner! So, when you ask me if I’m aware of my iconic status—it’s like hearing the PA in the venue. I’m aware because I can hear it, but I don’t get to be a part of it that often. And I’m sorry about that, because I would like to be more a part of it, and dig on it more. And I don’t really get to do that. But I will tell you I am very, very honored. I’m very honored about Night of a Thousand Stevies. I think it’s precious. And it goes straight to my heart. I wish I could come there every year. I know I’m a rock ’n’ roll star, but I work very hard. I’m the worker bee. I don’t really get to enjoy the honey comb very much.

So when can we expect some new material from you?

Well, when this whole Fleetwood Mac thing is done, I think I’m gonna do another record. I’ve been told by a lot of people that, “The music business is in such terrible shape, maybe you just shouldn’t do another record.” And I really took that to heart. Only in the last couple of months have I really started thinking, “Well you know what? I don’t even care if it doesn’t sell any records.” I need to go back into that creative world. I need to go back into the studio and sit at the piano and pull out all my thousands of pages of what I think is very good poetry, and write some new really beautiful songs and throw them out there. If people like them, great. If they don’t, that’s okay too. I need to do it for myself. So, are you going to hear something from me at some point? Yes you are.

The Soundstage Sessions and Live in Chicago will be released Mar. 31. Catch Stevie’s in-store appearance at Barnes and Noble Union Square, 33 E 17th St, also on Mar. 31 at 7pm.

Thanks to Jose for the heads-up on the article.

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