If she had her way, Stevie Nicks wouldn’t have let a decade go by between solo albums.
‘In Your Dreams’ was released last month, her first solo album in 10 years
The singer and songwriter, best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac, released In Your Dreams in May, 10 years after her last solo album, Trouble in Shangri-La. She was certainly busy in between, most notably with a new album and several tours with Fleetwood Mac, but Nicks feels that she easily could have made some new music several years ago.
“When I came off the road with Fleetwood Mac in 2005,” she says, speaking by telephone from her Los Angeles home, “I was definitely ready to do a record. But the powers that be, the people that surrounded me, pretty much said, ‘Don’t bother. It’s not a good time. The music business is in a terrible place. There’s no money, and the Internet piracy is taking over. Everybody’s just stealing records and music.’
“I didn’t know what to say,” the 63-year-old admits, “because I’m not a computer person and I don’t have a computer and I don’t Facebook or Spaceface or Myplace or whatever. I don’t do all that. So I just kind of said, ‘OK.’
“If I hadn’t have been so exhausted from 135 shows, I might have fought back on that a little, but I just said, ‘OK.”’
During the interim Nicks reconnected with former Eurythmics member Dave Stewart, a hit-making producer whom she’d met in 1985, when they worked on Don’t Come Around Here No More, a song that Nicks never completed but which became a hit for Tom Petty. In 2006 Nicks was a guest on the pilot for Stewart’s HBO show Off the Record, and in January 2009, when she started planning In Your Dreams, Stewart was the first potential collaborator who came to mind.
“I called and asked him if he’d be interested in working with me on some songs,” Nicks recalls, “and he said, ‘I have a song for you already. I’m going to send it to you, and I’d like if you would write the verses.”‘
The song was called Everybody Loves You, and it set many wheels turning.
I told him, I'm going to send you a binder that has 40 type-written pages init, 40 poems, and hopefully maybe you'll read it," Nicks says. "He actually did read it, so, when he came up to my house to listen to Everybody Loves You, he pulled out one of the poems and said, 'I like this one very much. Let's work on this poem.' And we stared writing a song."
Nicks has written a great many songs since 1974, when she and then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac and immediately turned the British blues-rock group into a multiplatinum pop super-act, with Nicks in a lead role thanks to her ethereal charisma and songs such as Rihannon (1976), Dreams (1977), Sara (1979) and Gypsy (1982).
Starting with the chart-topping, quadruple-platinum Bella Donna (1981), Nicks also has notched five platinum-or-better albums on her own, along with 10 Top 40 hits. Between her and the band, Nicks has sold more than 140 million albums worldwide and netted 13 Grammy Award nominations, as well as a 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The silver lining has had some clouds, however: After a stormy breakup with Buckingham, one of the inspirations for Fleetwood Mac’s Grammy-winning album Rumours (1977), Nicks’ romantic life has included high-profile hookups with bandmate Mick Fleetwood and with the Eagles’ Don Henley, as well as a brief marriage to Kim Anderson, the widower of a friend of Nicks’ who had died in the early 1980s. A heavy cocaine addiction took her to the Betty Ford Center in 1987, but was succeeded by an equally debilitating dependency on the tranquilizer Klonopin, which she kicked after a 47-day detox and subsequent rehabilitation eight years later.
“I’ve been through a great deal of hard stuff,” Nicks admits. “A lot of it I did to myself. I lost a lot of time, but I don’t wallow in it or beat myself up. I just accept what happened, am happy I got through it still alive and hope I learned something along the way.”
In Your Dreams first took shape in December 2009, when Fleetwood Mac was on tour in Australia. Staying in a Melbourne hotel that also housed a movie theatre, Nicks checked out a showing of The Twilight Saga: New Moon and was “quite taken with the movie” – so much so that she immediately saw it a second time. Returning to her room, she wrote a five-page essay inspired by the film’s star-crossed lovers, her own relationship with Buckingham “and all the fairy tales that live in my head from my childhood.”
After completing the essay, Nicks “started to pull some poetry out of it,” then combined that with elements of a never-finished 1970s song called Lady from the Mountains.
“So this ancient song became a song written somewhere between 1976 and 2010,” Nicks says, “and when I finished it in Brisbane, which was the next city we went to that had a piano, I got up from the piano and said to my assistant, ‘I’m ready to do a record now.”‘
With Stewart involved, it was clear that In Your Dreams would be more collaborative than any solo work Nicks had done before. The pair ended up co-writing seven of the album’s 10 songs.
“The second thing we did ended up being the song You May Be the One,” Nicks says, “and my eyes instantly opened and I understood why Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote together – because they each had something the other didn’t have. And with Dave and me, he had thousands of chords and this amazing musical knowledge, and I know six chords but had thousands of pages of poetry. So it was this amazing song that I could never have written by myself and he could never have written by himself either.
"It was like an amazing little meeting of the minds, and I immediately went, 'Well, this is just great,' and we wnet on from there."
Eventually Stewart's Grammy-winning production partner Glen Ballard was brought in to help, along with long-time Nicks guitarist Waddy Wachtell and back-up singers Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks, the singer's sister-in-law, the three who, Nicks says, "are truly the backbone of the Stevie Nicks sound." "It was the best year of my life," she says, "and that's really the best thing I can say to you. Dave Stewart made the best year of Stevie Nicks' life happen."
Like Nicks and Buckingham, Stewart started Eurythmics with Annie Lennox, his then-girlfriend, but the two continued the group after they broke up and found a way to overcome any hard feelings.
"I don't think it was conscious at all, "Nicks says, "but tere'ss really only a few duos, so I think it was a great conetion, because my experience with Lindsey and his experience with Annie definitelly made us two people who would understand ech other better. So in Everybody Loves You, when we write, 'You're so along / no one really knows you / I'm the only one,' that's how people in duos feel, expecially after they're famous.
"So, whether he wrote that about me or he worte that about him or I wrote that about Lindsey... duos really fee like the other one is the only person who will ever really know you."
Nicks tapped Buckingham to help with one of the songs on In Your Dreams: Soldiers Angel, which was inspired by her periodic visits to wounded US military personnel at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington. She started with a poem and then "an insanely emotional demo," but then couldn't figure out where to go from there. At wit's end, she called Buckingham, who has remained a friend and confidante decades after their break-up.
Times of Oman
June 2, 2011
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