NEW YORK — Stevie Nicks has her own way of doing things. And why shouldn’t she? The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with five platinum albums to her name, not to mention all her work with Fleetwood Mac, has done pretty well for herself.
So when producer Dave Stewart, of Eurythmics fame, showed up at her house one day, guitar in hand, expecting to write a song with a woman who has written alone for decades, she was taken aback.
“He just said, ‘I like this poem. Let’s do this one,’ ” says Nicks, calling from her home in Los Angeles. “I’m thinking, ‘ OK, he doesn’t really think we’re going to write a song here in the room together.’ Then, he just started playing, and he said, ‘Chime in.’ And I’m like, ‘OK,’ and I start reading my poem, and pretty soon a melody started to happen, and in 20 minutes, ‘You May Be the One,’ which is a pretty serious song, was done.”
For Nicks, it was an epiphany. “I got it,” she says. “I understand why people write together who don’t have to write together. I understand Paul and John, and Rodgers and Hart, and Carole King and Gerry Goffin. … They didn’t need to write together. They could write just great on their own. So why did they? Well, now I know.”
Nicks says the sessions that became the album “In Your Dreams” (Reprise) were so good that she thought, “Oh, my God, I’m never gonna make a record this good again.
“This record is what we would call in San Francisco in the ’60s a ‘happening,’ ” she says. “Every part of it was so much fun. ... It had everything that I love. It had craziness, and we set up a very romantic setting. There were a lot of people here, and we had dinners every night, where we stopped and talked about the world. … We created a Parisian salon in the ’20s in my house. Friends came, and they asked if they could listen, and we said, ‘Sure, come on,’ because it was a very open thing. Everybody was welcome. It was a very easygoing, free-flowing musical thing.”
The result of those sessions is Nicks’ most eclectic-sounding solo album, from the classic-sounding single “Secret Love” to the upbeat comfort of the title track to the blues of “Soldier’s Angel,” inspired by a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“I walked in having no idea what to expect,” says Nicks, who visited the hospital in 2006 on a Fleetwood Mac tour. “I was there for six or seven hours and probably saw 25 to 30 soldiers. When I was leaving, we found ourselves in this giant entryway, in the middle of this raging medevac. It was filled with doctors and nurses, and they were trying to get us out of the way, but they couldn’t find our car. When they finally found our car, and we’re driving away, I’m hysterical just watching the red lights.
“I walked in there Stevie Nicks, rock star — not a care in the world — and I walked out of there as the song says, a soldier’s mother,” continued Nicks, who has donated the proceeds from the song to Walter Reed hospital. “I have never been the same since that day, ever.”
The change is evident not only in Nicks’ new songs but in her live show. This time out, she plans on telling the stories behind her songs — old and new — and infusing much of her set with the songs from “In Your Dreams.”
“People were saying that the old songs were great, but that there was a certain light around the new songs,” she says. “For me, that opened the doors to keep the new songs in, because I agreed. It’s exciting. I’m usually scared to put new songs, and I’m not scared this time … I did a really good sequence so that people listening were not even sure whether a song was new.”
So far, Nicks’ new attitude has worked well for her. “In Your Dreams” debuted at No. 6 in May, the same week “Rumours” saw a “Glee”-fueled resurgence to the top of the sales charts, making Nicks responsible for two of the top sellers in the Top 10.