Thursday, April 18, 2013

REVIEW: Stevie Nicks 'In Your Dreams' "this isn't a portrait of the artist, it’s a diary of the art"

Movie review: In Your Dreams
by Jay Stone

In Your Dreams
2½ stars out of 5
Starring: Stevie Nicks, Dave Stewart
Directed by: Dave Stewart and Stevie Nicks
Running time: 100 minutes
Parental guidance: No problems

Fans of the singer Stevie Nicks — none of whom could possibly be bigger fans than Stevie Nicks herself, it appears — will be in heaven with In Your Dreams, a documentary about the yearlong project to record her 2011 solo album. It’s all there: the inspirations, the moments of musical serendipity, the day Reese Witherspoon dropped by and gave her a title for one of the tunes, the many, many scenes of Nicks writing or singing or talking or just hanging out in her lush California home, being artistic.

Other, lesser fans will have to make do with serendipitous moments of our own: the voice-over when Nicks
expresses the wish that In Your Dreams will inspire younger audiences “to go back to the old ways and start over. This is our prayer.” Or the magical moment when, after writing the lyrics to Italian Summer at a hotel in Italy, she gives the hand-written manuscript to the front desk clerk and tells him, “Some day this is going to be very important.”

In fact, Italian Summer is a good song, one of many we get to enjoy in excerpts from the music videos that also festoon this vanity project. The film, like the album, is produced by Nicks and Dave Stewart, the Eurythmics guitarist, who joins Nicks and several other top-notch musicians. These include Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, the alma mater for Nicks, plus her longtime backup singers, in whom, she speculates, the public finds “comfort in that love that we have as three very strong women.”

And maybe they do. In Your Dreams features endorsements from members of the public, including an American sailor whose life was altered by Soldier’s Angel. Nicks wrote that song after touring Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and seeing the wounded warriors, one of a few genuine moments of emotion in the film. In Your Dreams would be impossible if it wasn’t for the fact that Nicks — whose throaty growl hasn’t lost much of its power — is a talented rock singer and Stewart is, as she informs us, “one of the greatest and grandest guitar players.”

The film only touches on her childhood and early career: this isn’t a portrait of the artist, it’s a diary of the art, including the volumes of her writings that she gave to Stewart as possible lyrics (at one point she compares herself to Bob Dylan). There’s a touching reminiscence surrounding the song New Orleans, written six days after Hurricane Katrina and inspired by TV clips of a young boy who looks at the camera and — with shocking and moving frankness — says, “We just need some help sent here. And it’s just pitiful.”

The Witherspoon song comes when the actress tells Stewart he can stay at her condo in Nashville. “It’s cheaper than free,” she says, and the next thing you know, Stewart and Nicks have turned that idea into a love song. Another factoid: Lady From the Mountain was inspired by the Twilight movie New Moon, in particular the part where Bella is abandoned by the love of her life, which also happened to Nicks. Hopefully, she says, someone will hear that song and think, “The same thing happened to Stevie Nicks and she’s still alive.”

In your dreams. OK, OK. But she started it.

In Toronto on April 15th at The Toronto International Film Festival Lightbox Theatre Screening - Stevie screened the film and appeared after each screening for a live discussion and Q&A.  Here's one of those sessions captured and generously shared by Thanks for filming the Q&A!


FruitInMyJock said...

I've been finding Stevie to be a bit too full of herself over the past few years too, and that's why I agree with a lot of what this article says.

She says things that are so egotistical and indulgent these days that I feel a bit embarrassed by it.

Just the other day I watched a clip where she called FM one of the "big elite bands" that can do what ever they want... Some truly believe this and will think it justified, but I think it's a very offensive attitude to hold yourself in such high regard. And didn't she say in the Master Class thing, "I am a really good singer".... Not cool.

I personally feel that Stevie has come to a point where she's started to believe all the praise that's been dumped on her over the years, and it's clouding her vision about who she is in the business and what part she plays in it.

Both Stevie and Fleetwood Mac might sell tickets for nostalgia tours, but neither has proven to be all that great at selling records in the last decade. Say You Will never did hit platinum, and In Your Dreams will never see gold status not if it's on shelves for 50 years.

They all need to reel in their egos. It's just a bit vulgar.

Anonymous said...

Stevie also said if you can't believe in yourself, nobody will...

I think she's earned the right to toot her own horn. Stevie's never had a lot of praise dumped on her over the years, not from the industry. Look up old album or live performance reviews and you'll see that it's only been in the later part of her performing life she's been garnering good reviews, and on this last album the BEST reviews of her career. Everyone (except her fans) were too easy to write her off as airy fairy, she was never taken all that serious - which is a shame. Now she's looked up to, a legend an icon a trailblazer... I say go for it Stevie.

And for the record, nobody's that great at selling records in the last decade... whether its Fleetwood Mac / Stevie Nicks or the latest greatest. Only a very select few have really done well album sales wise. If you can hit platinum, you're lucky. There are examples all over the place of the top artists of today not selling all that many albums. Look at Justin Bieber for example. Huge star, huge following by the demographic that music is tailored to, the buying kids. His latest album in the US = 1.4 million. The kid has 30 million followers on Twitter alone, never mind facebook and all the other social sites... You would think that would translate into large album sales but it doesn't. Look at Katy Perry. Her last album she put out almost 3 years ago now. Huge star, huge following, she sold 2.6 million in the US. The girl had 5 no.1 singles off the album, she matched Michael Jackson for crying out loud... when Michael had 5 no. 1's off of one album, his sales were 8 million in the US. There are differences between now and 20-30 years ago all over the place... What kids are buying now are individual songs... Single song sales are through the roof.

Anonymous said...

"Look at Justin Bieber"
"Look at Katy Perry"

Must we?

Anonymous said...

Well seriously, if you bench mark for success is album sales and reaching gold and platinum, look at the supposed hot album sellers of today and compare them to Stevie/FM. There isn't that big of a difference.

Anonymous said...

This documentary had no business being made. Apart from the die-hard fan that feels Stevie can do no wrong and Stevie herself, who really cares about what went on while In Your Dreams was being made? We all heard these boring stories in the interviews she gave when it was released. And a theater release? It's just sad they thought it would garner enough general interest for that. Straight to DVD or as an Internet download would have been better.

I think the point the original poster made is being overlooked. I read it that they feel Stevie is jaded in her thinking regarding her relevance, for lack of better wording, in the industry today. Stevie is used to every record she puts out going gold or platinum. She is used to massive sales like she saw with the older (& better) FM releases and with her older (& far better) solo releases. She always hears from her fans and the people she chooses to surround herself with how amazing she is and how perfect she is.

To say FM is an "elite" band is laughable. An "elite" band is one that has the statistics to back them up. Like them or not, elite bands are those like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Queen, AC/DC and even ABBA. Bands that have hundreds of millions of record sales to their name. Any band that has a claimed sales record of six hundred million or more is truly elite. I don't care how hard they flog Rumours and push for its continued sales, FM is hardly elite. Even artists like The Eagles, Neil Diamond, Garth Brooks, the Bee Gees and Julio Iglesias (!) can claim higher record sales and that "elite" status moreso than FM.

Sorry to tell the Flying Monkeys this but when it comes to the business, sales really ARE a vital part of it. If a band or artist doesn't keep the cash coming in, the label will drop them in a heartbeat. It's all about the money and the sales. How much cash comes in is what determines a musical acts success not how many adoring fans saying "OMGOMGOMG, they are so awesome!!!!!" online. After all, the execs don't get a cut of those comments so they don't matter.

I also noticed how smug Stevie was on Oprah's Masterclass. Before anyone comes out with the "Oh, Stevie is just a strong and confident woman" line, let me say that is just BS. It's an excuse. I'm all for women being strong, proud and confident but there is a huge difference in confidence and arrogance. There's a fine line there and Stevie doesn't just step across it, she makes a wild dash across it.

Stevie really does firmly believe all the gushing adoration she's given by her fans and those who work for her. No one close to Stevie will ruin their ride on the "gravy train" by telling the conductor they are driving poorly. Gone are the days when fans literally got new music by the band or one of its members every year so they're now so desperate for new material that any old thing the band puts out is perfection whether it is or not. Stevie and FM feel they are entitled to success, praise and glory just because they've been around as long as they have. They don't have to try anymore because the fans will automatically hand it to them. The band and Stevie are not as relevant in todays music as they used to be. Really, the only people who truly are genuinely excited for a new Fleetwood Mac or Stevie Nicks album or tour is the core fan base. The average music listener today would rather hear someone more current than a 'classic rock act'. As much as I enjoy most of the band and Stevie's music, I understand and accept that fact and it doesn't bother me in the least. I like what I like and could care less about the rest.

Stevie Nicks really is her own biggest fan these days. That's not cute, it's not charming and it's not confidence. It's just plain conceited and annoying. If anything will ever succeed in turning me against Stevie, it is Stevie herself.

FruitInMyJock said...

Yes, poster above, your final paragraph sums up my feelings completely. Stevie's attitude has become very egotistical and self-important. As much as I like the music, I can't deal with the arrogance. Interviews have become a no-go for me at this point, as it's usually just Stevie telling us how great she is. Something she never used to do. If she keeps it up, I'm afraid I'll have to just jump ship all together. And here I was thinking it was Lindsey Buckingham that thought he was god's gift.

Anonymous said...

I was almost thinking that the Anonymous posters (from 21 April 2013 20:08) review and feelings towards the documentary, Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac were understandable, not because I agree with anything he said AT ALL, but because everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But then he called ABBA one of the "elite" bands and put them in the same category as The Beatles, thus making any opinions he had invalid.

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