Friday, August 28, 2009

by: Simon Collins

Exceprts from exclusive interview with The West Australian's Simon Collins.

The kiss-offs are in the lyrics, the choruses and - most brutally - the titles. On Dreams, in between Buckingham declaring that he feels like Second Hand News and that he’s Never Going Back Again, Nicks warns her former beau that (other) “women, they will come and they will go”.

Later on side one, in arguably the greatest break-up song in pop history, Buckingham counters by telling her to Go Your Own Way. Which they did at the end of 1976 before these unguarded moments propelled Rumours to the top of the charts.

More than 30 years after those tumultuous times, Fleetwood Mac are still together - albeit without Christine McVie, who retired a decade ago - performing those classics on their Unleashed greatest hits world tour, which comes to Australia in December.

Speaking from her home in Santa Monica, California, after finishing the 53-date North American leg of the tour, Nicks says the songs still summon strong memories.

“We all really time-travel back to those days - drama, drama drama,” the 61-year-old says. “That’s why we’re able to sing them now and sing them with a lot of heart because we never lost the value of why they were written or the fact that they were real.

“It was real hearts being broken like bowling pins going down.” Despite the dramas, Nicks says that the Rumours sessions were a lot of fun.

In particular, the three months of recording at The Record Plant Studios in Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco provide some of her fondest memories.

“The Record Plant was looking out over the ocean, so it was very romantic and beautiful,” she says.

“Then when we went back to LA that was fun too because we probably recorded in every studio in this city. Sometimes we had two or three running at the same time. So, it was huge and it was a lot of fun and it was very exciting - and the songs were brilliant. We were just having the best time ever doing it.”

The five stars of rock’s greatest soap opera were having the best time but falling apart because of the volatile cocktail of drugs and passions.

Somehow the creative bonds outlived the emotional ones, and the band forged on to prove (putting to one side Buckingham’s departure from about 1987 to 1997 and McVie’s retirement a year later) that you can never break the chain.

Today, Nicks is looking out over the same ocean, albeit from her Santa Monica condominium where she lives with her Chinese crested-Yorkshire terrier cross, Sulamith (named after fairy-obsessed German fantasy illustrator Sulamith Wulfing).

When she’s not on tour, which is not very often, Nicks prefers to live at her modest apartment rather than her big property in the Pacific Palisades up in the Hollywood hills.

“When I walk into my really beautiful little condo, I feel like an international star and when I walk into my big house, I feel like an old woman who can’t figure out what to do,” she says.

“I’m keeping my big house because I have my pianos, I can record there, but I really live in a very small, albeit very beautiful place. I’m looking straight at the ocean right now and I just love it.

“I have a little dog. I bought this big house and she and I would look at each other and go, ‘What the heck are we doing?’”

While she claims that the rigours of touring, either for solo shows or with Fleetwood Mac, leaves little time for socialising, Nicks has become a mother hen figure to a group of younger female musicians, including Sheryl Crow, Vanessa Carlton, Michelle Branch and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines.

And while Nicks has had high-profile affairs with Mick Fleetwood (a secret liaison while the band were touring Rumours), Eagles’ members Don Henley and Joe Walsh, and record producer Jimmy Iovine, she still considers Buckingham the unattainable love of her life.

“Lindsey and I have that bittersweet thing,” she says. “He’s married, has three kids, he’s very happy in his marriage. I’m very happy for him.

“He’s not like me. I’m happy to grow old with a bunch of friends and dogs, and he was not. He never really wanted to have kids . . . (but) all of a sudden he had this beautiful little boy and I think his whole life changed.

“I chose purposely - my choice - to not be married or have children so I could follow being a true artist,” Nicks continues.

“So I can turn around and say to my little dog, ‘We’re going to New York tomorrow’. We don’t have to ask anybody if we can go and we don’t have to have anybody mad at us because we don’t know when we’re coming back. I chose that and I’m very happy with that choice.”

But when Fleetwood Mac start playing those classics, Nicks gets back on that rollercoaster of love and heartbreak.

“When we walk on stage, it’s no longer these two ruffian kids,” she says. “We still have that love. We’ll always have it. We go back way too far now to not be appreciative of what he and I dreamed up and actually made happen.”

Fleetwood Mac play ME Bank Stadium on December 11 and 12. Tickets go on sale September 4 from Ticketmaster outlets.

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