Sort of a repost.. Great interview that I originally posted from the Afterellen site awhile back. This one is similar but seems longer and written a bit differently.
By Stephan Horbelt
By Stephan Horbelt
Stevie Nicks has enchanted music lovers with her ethereal songwriting and mystical rock goddess persona since the mid-1970s. A member of the rock supergroup Fleetwood Mac and also a successful solo artist, Nicks has once again donned her signature shawls and platform boots to promote her first solo album in a decade, the well-received In Your Dreams. The writer of such hit songs as “Dreams,” “Rhiannon” and “Stand Back,” among countless others, sat down with Frontiers to discuss the new record, as well as the love she has for her LGBT fanbase and the notion of someday writing her memoirs for the world to read.
‘AN ACID TRIP WITHOUT THE ACID’
Dave Stewart, best known as one-half of The Eurythmics, played a large part in the success of In Your Dreams. Though Nicks had never before worked with Stewart, he came onto the project as a producer and co-songwriter and was able to create real magic during their sessions. The seven songs that resulted from their pairing are some of the strongest tracks on the album.
Asked what it was like to work with the legendary musician, Nicks replied that it was “the best thing ever.” She continued, “We made the record at my house. We turned my whole two-story house into a recording studio and we used every part of the house—the backyard, the upstairs, the downstairs, all the rooms. We had dinners every night catered by one of my goddaughters, so we broke at 7:30 each night and talked about politics and music and the world, and then went back and worked for another two hours. It was like a happening. It was like an acid trip without the acid.
“We just had the best time. Dave really has the ability to create a world of magic, where you feel magical. And there is, in our situation, never a harsh word, never a raised voice, never an argument, no egos happening at all, so he and I were able to write seven songs. And I have never written a song with anybody.
“I write with Michael Campbell [of The Heartbreakers], but he sends me tracks in the mail, so I don’t sit in the room with him. I’ve written with a few people who have sent me tracks. But I have never written a song with a real, live human being that is sitting two feet from me, because I never wanted to share that experience. And I never thought it was possible that it could happen.
“So the first day he was there—I’m sitting here in the house right now looking around at all the equipment that we haven’t taken down—he just said ‘OK, well here is a poem that you wrote that I like, so let’s use this poem.’ And he just started playing. We had a Pro Tools rig set up, so we were recording. I just started to recite my words in a sing-songy sort of way, and in a half-hour we had written a song. And my world changed. The golden doors opened, and I understood why Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote together for the first time in my life. If you can find somebody that is not egotistical and does not get their feeling hurt—[who isn’t] hurt if you look at them and say, ‘you know, I don’t really like that part,’ then the world is your oyster. And he did that with me. He allowed me to just be like a child and be totally free.
“And this record—I’m sorry that it’s done. I’m sorry that we’re not gathering here at 2 in the afternoon anymore. When it was done in February, I sat down on my red couch in front of my fireplace and started to cry, because I was just so sad that part of the experience was over."
‘IT WAS ME WALKING AWAY FROM ME’
“Secret Love” was the first single from Nicks’ In Your Dreams album, though it was written back in the mid-’70s and originally intended for inclusion on Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 Rumours album. Here Nicks gave some insight into the story behind the song, and also how the track still speaks to her now as it did back then.
“The video [for “Secret Love”] was really about my older self dealing with how I felt when I actually wrote that song sometime in 1975. I had only been in Fleetwood Mac for a couple months probably when I wrote it." She continues with some backstory. “My life had changed overnight from being a totally cool waitress—and a pretty damned cool cleaning lady also—to making enough money to support Lindsey [Buckingham] and all our friends, basically. And, you know, it [had been] fun. We were poor, but it was brilliant. Those four years were quite brilliant moments.
“Looking back on it, one lady psychologist—probably the only time I ever sat with a psychologist—said to me, ‘I think sometimes the day that you joined Fleetwood Mac was the saddest day of your life, because it was the day that you stopped being a caretaker.’ I really am a caretaker—I love to take care of people and make sure they have the right blanket and the right hot water bottle and the right, you know, the right pillows and the right lighting. I am just all about that. I was thrown into a world where everyone wanted to take care of me, and a part of that I really despised. I’m a little more used to it now—I kind of take it as it comes.
“But when I go back to thinking of myself in my mid-20s, when I was, say, two years before we joined Fleetwood Mac—who knew if we were going to make it. We believed in ourselves, and we believed with all our hearts we would make it, but then there was the other part of me that said, ‘Well, if I don’t, I’ll go back to school and I’ll be a teacher, and I’ll take my music into the classroom.’
“So in that video, ‘secret loves’ could mean a lot of things. Secret loves could be secret desires, secret things that you wanted to happen that maybe didn’t happen or maybe did happen. And when I put my little goddaughter in that vintage green outfit that was made in 1976, and she walked away from me in that little top hat and my boots and this outfit that I wore—and it’s ‘size minus-two,’ you know—I’m first of all saying, ‘Could we ever have possibly been that tiny?’ And also, ‘Oh my God, it’s me walking away from me.’
“That’s kind of what I wanted to put out to people in that song—even though I wrote that song in 1975, it still makes total sense to me today. At 27 years old and at 63 years old, it still makes perfect sense to me.”
IT’S A VERY ‘ROMANTIC’ LIFE
Nicks seems to have been touring for the better part of her 63 years, whether with Fleetwood Mac or supporting her many solo projects. Asked how she deals with constantly touring the world, she gave a very candid answer. “I am starting to ask myself the same question. You know what I do? I get up in the morning and I go, ‘Oh my God, do I have to pull those black tights up one more day?’ “As tired as I get sometimes, I go, ‘How long would you be happy laying around your house watching television? How long would that work for you until you [were] totally bored?’
“I lead a very ‘romantic’ life, you know, as a writer and a singer and a songwriter and a girl who gets to travel the world. I’m leaving for London tomorrow. I don’t know anybody else who is leaving for London tomorrow. It’s like, I’m so excited. The traveling part of it is really pretty great. We as artists get more rest when we are out on the road than we do when we are home, because when you’re out on the road you’re on a schedule.
“It’s like, in the shower at 1, blow dry at 2, vocal lesson at 2:45, flat iron hair at 3. It’s pretty easy because you just kind of go through and people tell you exactly what to do. And then you go and do your show, and you get all that great feedback. You get to sort of hang out all day long, and then you get to walk onstage and have everybody love your music. And then you get to fly to the next city. I mean, it doesn’t really get much better than that.”
On May 26, Stevie Nicks celebrated her 63rd birthday here in Los Angeles with a couple thousand of her biggest fans. The Wiltern played host to a set list that included guest appearances by the likes of Dave Stewart, Mike Campbell and Mick Fleetwood.
“You know, only 2,000 people [were able to see the Wiltern show]. Luckily we filmed it, because we—Dave Stewart and I—both said, ‘You know what? What if this turns into something like The Last Waltz or Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, you know, The Rolling Thunder [Revue] or something—what if?’ We only had a couple days to rehearse. We were flying by the seat of our pants on that show, actually. And it did turn into probably one of the top-three most magical things that I have ever been involved in.
“What I always try to do is make the audience feel like they are in my living room. And for that show I was able to really say, ‘This is going to be a long show. So hunker down, because I’m going to tell you all the stories of these new songs. And I’ll probably tell you a few stories about the old songs and how they tie into each other and the thread—the golden thread—that runs through the old songs and through the new songs. And I’m going to take the time to do that, because this is a showcase. This is not a normal show.’
“And so you [the audience] were actually my friends, and you were just sitting in my living room. And we were hanging out. And I’m just playing you all my demos, because that is what I do. I mean, that is what I do at my house—I sit in my living room and I play my new music for all my friends. And I play it for them in each stage, from the very beginning all the way to the end. And that’s what I tried to do at the Wiltern on Thursday. And I always think it works if you stand up there and you open up your arms and you just say, I love you guys.’ And I really do. I really do love you.
“I think the audience feels that—not unlike when you are sitting with a group of friends that you really care about. So when I walk onstage I make a real effort to make that warm friendship feeling happen. And I think if you can get people to feel that way, then you can get them to be open to what you do.”
‘MY NAME IS STEVIE NICKS’
Nicks has been asked countless times before about sitting down to write her memoirs—she has lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for decades and is known to have plenty tales to tell. Sitting down to write her story is something she’s interested in doing, though she hasn’t decided when. As one of rock’s greatest poets, she even gives us a sneak peek into the direction her memoirs would take.
“I would never write your ‘creepy tell-all’ book. I would write a vignette book—like, one chapter would be Peace Sunday [The Rose Bowl, 1982], which was 100,000 people, and I would tell you what happened on that day. And one chapter would be, you know, the day I met Lindsey. And one chapter would be the day that Mick Fleetwood called and asked us to join Fleetwood Mac. One vignette would be the day I got my record deal—the day I got signed to Atlantic for Bella Donna. Those kinds of things, when I look back on them, were so exciting. And there are pages and pages and pages to be written about each one of those things.
“And then there would be, you know, ‘My name is Stevie Nicks. I fell in love with a boy named Baby Joe when I was three. And I did—in Ajo, Arizona, at my grandmother’s public swimming pool. And I never got over it.’ My story would be all the really funny, fun [stuff]—and then it would go to, ‘My name is Stevie Nicks, I live at the top of Mulholland. If you follow the fog, you will find me.’ That’s what my book would be. I would have bits of art in it. I would have a lot of poetry in it. I would have self-portraits that I’ve taken. “It would be like a really trippy adventure book through my life. I would never sit down and write a horrific [memoir]—I probably would leave a lot of the bad stuff out. And if I did talk about the bad stuff, I would talk about it in a very philosophical way as to help people instead of scare people.
“I am really seriously considering it.”
20 YEARS OF LGBT LOVE
Stevie Nicks has long had a bevy of LGBT fans—people who relate to her on an almost spiritual level for one reason or another. The love that spews forth from these individuals is not lost on Nicks in the slightest, and she cherishes her gay and lesbian fans greatly.
We discussed the moment when she first became aware of this loyal gay fanbase. According to her, it was more than 20 years ago. “I have a lot of gay friends, so that’s, ya know, one side of the whole thing. But then the other side is the 'Night of 1,000 Stevies.' I don’t even remember who told me, but somebody said, ‘Did you know that there’s this big, like, major party that goes on every year in New York that’s called "Night of 1,000 Stevies?"' And I’m going, what?
“And so they explained it to me. And I’m thinking, that’s pretty damn cool. That was, what, 20 years ago? So that really was the beginning—when I realized that my music was really appealing to all my gay fans. And, my goodness, this party has become historical I think. “When I was first told about it, I thought it would be a great thing that would happen maybe twice—and it’s still going on, so I’m thrilled.”
A DAY WITHOUT ‘GLEE’
Asked what it was like to know that her music would reach legions of new, younger fans after the hit show Glee based an entire episode around the Fleetwood Mac Rumours album, Nicks replied, “Pretty thrilling.” It turns out that Nicks was already a huge fan of the teen musical dramedy.
“I had been watching Glee from the very beginning. And, you know, we all have our favorite TV shows that we totally look forward to. So when I found out that they were doing ‘Landslide,’ and that Gwyneth Paltrow was going to come in and play her Holly Holiday character, and she was going to sing it, and Santana and Brittany were going to sing with her, I was just, like, so knocked out. And I said, ‘Well, can I go?’
“I am in L.A., you know, and people said, ‘Well, sure you can.’ So I went. I hung out there for six or seven hours and really spent the whole day with them, and sat with the writers and watched them film it over and over again from every different angle, and was just thrilled to be there and got to interact with all the kids—whom I can hardly call by their real names, because to me they have so become the characters.
“But the greatest thing was when it was over, when they were done, they all came and grouped around me. And Lea Michele, Rachel, said, ‘You know what? Nobody has ever done this. I mean, how many great old songs from the ‘70s and the ‘80s and the ‘60s have we done? And nobody—none of those artists has ever called us or come down or taken any kind of notice whatsoever that we did an amazing version of [their song].’
“I thought that was so sad. So of course I sent them huge flowers. And what a favor they did for me by putting that [episode] out the same day my record came out. I thought that was so lovely of them. So I sent flowers to my Glee children. I said ‘A day without Glee is like a day without sunshine.’ I have a real relationship with them now, and I really treasure it.”
Asked about the relationship between the Santana and Brittany characters, and whether she wanted the two cheerleaders to end up together, Nicks responded, “Well, I think as the ‘always about love’ person, I want them to be happy whoever they’re with. So if that is going to be Santana and Brittany, then I am thrilled. If that is going to be Artie and Brittany, then I am thrilled.
“I am looking at it as a real story, and in real stories, things work out because of what is in the hearts of man, you know? I don’t look at it as ‘I want it to work out because it is a gay relationship on TV, or I want it to work out because it’s a relationship with a guy in a wheelchair, or I want it to work out because it’s, you know, whatever.’ I want them all to be happy, so I don’t have a preference of how I want it to end up. Also, I always want to be surprised, because I’m a writer. Coming from a writer’s point of view, I never want to know what’s going to happen.”
It is a question that’s often asked of songwriters and musicians, and it rarely gets more than a dodgy reply—something along the lines of “My songs are like my children, and I just can’t choose.” But asked about a favorite song from her more-than-30-year catalog, Nicks responded, “Oh, that is hard, because I have different favorites at different times in my life.” But that doesn’t stop her from choosing a favorite track.
“[You don’t neessarily] put out an album and one of the songs on that album is now your favorite song—it doesn’t mean that at all. It just means that whatever is happening to you in your life kind of tends to move you towards what might be your favorite song to sing on stage. Right now, for me, my favorite song is ‘Moonlight: A Vampire’s Dream.’ And part of that song was written in the mid-’70s, you know, so it’s kind of an ancient song that travels down through time between Lindsey and Stevie and Edward and Bella [characters from the Twilight films, about whose relationship the song is based]. So for right now that’s my favorite.”
GIRLS WITH A PLAN
Stevie Nicks has acted as fairy godmother to more females in rock and pop music than can be mentioned, taking many under her wing in a very personal way, à la Sheryl Crow. Asked what she thinks of some of the ‘it girls’ of today’s pop music, it turns out that Nicks has quite a lot of admiration for Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Pink.
“I love Katy Perry. I just think she’s so interesting. She’s very eclectic and interesting, and I think she’s a really good songwriter, so that really makes me like her even more. Her ‘E.T.’ song, the ‘k-k-kiss me’ one, I love. I just love it.
“You know, I really like Lady Gaga, because I think she’s a girl with a plan. And I’ve seen her—I’ve watched her put her plan together and really work that plan. And, you know, I was a girl with a plan, so I understand that. Sometimes the girls with the plans are the ones that really manage to break through. I think she’s a really good songwriter, and I think she’s very much a performance artist like Elton John is. I think that will hold her very strong over the next several years if she decides that she wants to really do this. She’s only, what, in her early 20s? If she still wants to be doing this when she’s 60, I think she can. Some people not so much, but Lady Gaga—I call her ‘Ga’—she will absolutely be able to do it.
Pink has been around a long time, and I know her pretty well and love her to death. I’m so excited, because she must be ready to have her baby or on the way to the hospital. She’s another girl that is a really great songwriter and also loves being a performance artist. I ran into her when she was taking trapeze lessons. And I’m afraid of heights, you know, so I just can’t even imagine. But she was into it—she was like, ‘I’m going to be good at this. I’m not only going to hang upside down and sing. I’m going to really be good at it.’ And I’m like, my hat is off to you.
I think they’re all just quite amazing girls.
A FORCE OF NATURE
It’s no secret that Stevie Nicks has spent her life overcoming trial after tribulation, oftentimes in the unforgiving public eye. From cocaine and Klonopin addictions to failed relationships that were dragged through the press, Nicks has always forged ahead. Asked to whom or what she attributes her strength and survivor instinct, she doesn’t even need to pause.
“I think I attribute it to the fact that I am not and never have been a quitter,” says Nicks. “I do not walk away in the face of adversity, and I never have. I also don’t listen to people who don’t think I’m right about my music—I actually don’t listen to people about anything. My mom said to me when I was in the fifth grade, ‘Well, I hope that you get a job where you’re the boss, because you really don’t like anybody to tell you what to do.’
“I took what she said very much to heart. And that’s why I said I’m going to be a lead singer, not a background singer. When I went into Fleetwood Mac, Christine and I realized that because there were two of us, we really were a force of nature, and we were never going to be treated like second-class citizens in the rock 'n' roll business. So if we walked into the room, we were going to be just as respected as Eric Clapton or Robert Plant or any of those guys, and we were never, ever going to let anybody treat us any less—and we didn’t. That was the great thing about being in Fleetwood Mac, especially for the first 15 years. After that, everybody respected us and we didn’t have to call out for that respect anymore.
“But in the beginning, it was like we really had to make a statement—and we did. And that’s why when Christine left it was very hard for me, because as the two of us, we were so strong. When she left it sort of became the boys’ club, which was not near as cool as when she was there. I missed her terribly because of that. “But we set down rules. And, you know, it works. If you walk in the room with that kind of an attitude—a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude but in a good way, you can get so far. If you even bow your head one little bit and people see it, you’re toast.”