Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Stevie Nicks Is Still Living Her Dreams

 The New Yorker Interview

Stevie Nicks Is Still Living Her Dreams

The rock-and-roll icon talks about style, spirits, and writing one of her best songs ever.

By Tavi Gevinson

The New Yorker

I first met Stevie Nicks in 2013, when I was about to turn seventeen. At the time, I was editing Rookie, an online magazine for teen girls, and I had recently given a tedxTeen talk critiquing a trend of superficially “strong” female characters in pop culture. I am sure the video would embarrass me now, but I stand by its concluding line: “Just be Stevie Nicks.” A few months later, I heard from Nicks’s management team. Her cousin had sent her the video of my talk, and she wanted to invite me to a Fleetwood Mac show. At the concert, in Chicago, I bawled listening to Nicks sing her otherworldly songs, and was stunned when I heard the same voice dedicating her performance of “Landslide” to me. Backstage, Nicks gave me a gold moon-shaped necklace—a token she grants to those she’s taken under her wing. We kept up a friendship, and, in 2017, I interviewed her for Rookie’s podcast. Then the show’s production company shut down midseason, and the conversation never aired.n company shut down midseason, and the conversation never aired.

In the years since, Nicks’s appeal among younger generations has only grown. On TikTok, her songs provide a soundtrack to viral videos and fans pay tribute to her witchy aesthetic. Artists such as Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey have asked her to lend her voice to their songs, and she’s become “fairy godmother” to a wide circle of younger artists. For listeners, too, she has always acted as a kind of spiritual guide. In her music, loss is simultaneously earth-shattering and ordinary. Heartbreak is survivable, and possibly a key to self-knowledge. Many of her songs take place at night, in dreams or visions, “somewhere out in the back of your mind.” Her narrator frequently asks questions of herself and of some higher power, as if in constant conversation with her own intuition. When I said “Just be Stevie Nicks,” I was thinking of how her work had taught me to see such sensitivity as a source of strength. Nicks’s music is what you listen to when you need help listening to yourself.

Over two evenings last month, Nicks and I caught up over the phone. She was at her home in Santa Monica, where she has spent the pandemic keeping nocturnal hours and working on a TV series based on the Welsh myth of Rhiannon. When she apologized for asking to speak at 10:30 p.m. E.T., I assured her that I was on a similar schedule. “Good,” she said. “Then we are definitely friends of the night.” This interview has been adapted from our unpublished early conversation and our recent ones.

I read that you’ve kept a journal every day since the beginning of Fleetwood Mac. Do you ever go back and re-read old entries?

When I keep my journal, it’s big, like a telephone book, because I always feel that that will never get lost. So what I do is I write on the right side of the page, and then on the left-hand side I write poetry, which I usually take right out of my prose. So lots of times, when I go back to them, it’s to look at the poetry for songs. I would rather spend the time writing a new journal entry than going back and reading old journal entries, because if you go back you’re not going to go forward. I just try to keep going forward.

It sounds like the journal entries and your songwriting are kind of happening alongside each other.

They are. Especially if what I’m writing about has a—when I say the word “romantic,” I don’t necessarily mean romantic as far as having a guy or somebody in your life. I mean just the halcyon days or, just, remember the way that the air felt on your skin, or the way your hair felt when the wind blew through it, or the way that the trees sounded, or that kind of thing. So, if my journal entry has a romantic tinge to it, I might thumb through it and go, “This entry would make a really good poem,” which could then be made into a good song.

I saw your show “24 Karat Gold,” and you told a lot of origin stories of where your songs came from.

Almost all of those were what I call “songs that went in the gothic trunk of lost songs.” For whatever reason, they didn’t go on records. It wasn’t because they weren’t good enough. It was because I didn’t like the way they were recorded, or there were too many songs, and when you’re putting twelve songs together, sometimes you have to lose a song that you really love just because you have too many slow songs and you need more fast songs. When you’re sequencing your record, it’s a piece of work, it’s not about each separate song.

A lot of these songs were in a suitcase that was accidentally sold at a flea market after I went on the road in 1983. So the songs have been travelling around the Internet now. A lot of people out in the audience knew the songs, but then there’s the next two generations that probably didn’t know them. So I figured you just have to tell them the story of each one of those really unfamiliar songs: what it was about, who was involved, and when it was written, and build a story around it.

How did the suitcase of cassettes find its way back to you?

Well, my best friend, [Robin], when she died [of leukemia, in 1982], she was pregnant. I decided, in my completely insane state of mind, that I was just going to marry her husband so that I could take care of the child. And, well, that didn’t work very well. So, for three months, getting ready to go on a big tour, I tried to be a mom, and it was impossible. And then out of nowhere, I just said, “You know what? We need to get a divorce.” I left, and he just decided to clean out the whole house, and there was a suitcase of cassettes—I don’t really know that he knew what was on all these cassettes. He had, like, a yard sale, and I don’t think that the people who bought it necessarily even knew what was exactly in it either. But somebody [eventually] figured out what it was, and then all of a sudden all these demos were out there in the world. So some fans who found out about this bought them and sent them back to me. That’s how cool my fans are. And then I took a lot of the great demos to Nashville and said I want to record these songs, but I want it exactly as they are. And they did it. And that’s why I love that record so much, because the songs on there are really close to how I wrote them.

I’ve loved some of the stories you’ve shared on social media about your songs. I was so pleased and surprised to learn that the “white winged dove” you first read about on a menu . . .

On the airplane.

It’s such an unlikely source of inspiration.

I know—coming from Phoenix to here. And who knew that the white-winged dove was this bird in Phoenix, or in Arizona, that made its home in the saguaro cactus, because it was protected in there? I didn’t really know anything about doves or pigeons or whatever you want to call them. But they literally said, “This bird, when it makes a sound, sounds like it’s saying ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh,’ ” right? And then I instantly went into writing that song, which then ended up being about Tom Petty and John Lennon and a bunch of people.

But think about this: the white-winged dove really inspired Prince to write “This is what it sounds like when doves cry.”

I didn’t know that. I think most people would maybe think that inspiration has to come from somewhere more grand or something. So I love that you’ve got ideas from menus or road signs. It just tells me to be open.

You just want to say to people exactly that—just open up, so that if you do drive under that sign that says Silver Spring . . . I had never seen that sign before, nor had I ever heard of Silver Spring, Maryland, or wherever it is. And as my head passed under that sign I just went, O.K., note Silver Spring. And I just immediately went and wrote that song.

When a song of yours has become a hit, does that change your relationship to it?

Not really. I can sing “Dreams,” which was a huge hit, and I’ve been singing it ever since it came out. And I can just go right back to what pushed me toward writing those words. And I always laugh because Lindsey [Buckingham]’s “Go Your Own Way” and my “Dreams” are, like, counter songs to each other. I’m, like, “When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know,” and he’s, like, “Packing up, shacking up’s all you want to do.” Both songs kind of mean the same thing—it’s really about our breakup. He’s looking at it from a very unpleasant, angry way, and I’m saying, in my more airy-fairy way, we’re gonna be all right. We’ll get through this.

What’s it like to be taken back to that moment when you’re onstage, and your lives are different now, and you’re different people—or maybe it doesn’t feel that way?

Well, that’s where you want to be when you sing that. You want to be in the story, because, once you’re not in the story anymore, that song goes. I mean, there’s certain songs that can never go out of the set even if you’re terribly tired of them. But there’s a reason they made it on those records. There’s a reason why that one was chosen. I have a really good memory of all that. I can just put myself right back in our first apartment.

Do you have literary influences that have inspired your music?

You know, I go in and out of reading. When I have a little bit of time to myself, my Zen time at night after a show, I slice a plate of apples and I sit on my bed with as many favorite fashion magazines as I can find. I’m just a fashion-magazine hag and I used to just have thousands of tear sheets, but now that I have my little iPhone I’m taking pictures. So my camera is filled with what would’ve been my tear-out sheets. But it can be, like, four in the morning and I’ll be, like, “Let’s see, you have to wake up at eleven-thirty.” And then I kind of go, “Why would I want to be asleep right now? This is the best time of my entire day.”

Ugh, that is such a good feeling.

It is. And it’s, like, it’s mine. And almost nothing else that I do in my life is really mine. It’s all shared, and there’s always two or three people around. And I have Lily [Nicks’s dog] now. She has really saved my life, because Sulamith [Nicks’s previous dog] was sick for that last year.

Sulamith was named for . . .

Sulamith Wülfing.

The illustrator. I think you told me Mick Fleetwood got you a book—

In 1975. And she was an amazing artist from Germany. And it’s funny because I have a deck of Sulamith tarot cards, and I almost brought them today for some reason. And I think they’ve been at the bottom of my purse forever and they’re old; I don’t even know if you can still get them. And I thought, Maybe I should take these and show Tavi, and then I thought, Hmm, oh, no, if we get off on the Sulamith tarot cards then we won’t even finish the interview.

I told my friend Ella—Lorde—that I was talking to you, and she had a question for you. She said, “Can you ask her how she stayed in touch with her dreams? She seemed to never lose that direct line to her dreams, if that makes sense. And, by dreams, I mean, that actually swirling world you go to at night and sometimes when you’re awake. Not, like, ambitions.”

You know, the last show that Fleetwood Mac did in New Zealand, I found out that she had come with her parents, and she didn’t tell me she was even coming, so I didn’t get to meet her. I have a moon for her, and it’s in a box with a little note, and I’ve never been able to get it to her.

I don’t think Lorde is going to have any problem at all keeping in touch with what she does. I think she’s just as odd as you or me. She’s a strange girl, and so are we. And she’s a really great writer and she’s really good at doing her own recorded stuff. I don’t think that any real serious songwriter is ever going to have a problem staying connected to the dream world that allows us to write songs.

We want to have our serious side and all that, but you can’t take yourself too seriously. When you keep music in your life, I think it just changes you and pulls you out of a deep hole. Whenever I’m depressed, I just put music on. The second I walk into my dressing room, I plug my iPod into my old-fashioned stereo and I just crank the music. That’s just feeding my soul so that I can get ready to walk onstage in three hours. When I’m pulling up my black tights and putting on my corset, I’m listening to, like, “Starboy.” I have crazy musical taste. I have my tapes that go back to the early two-thousands—Nelly was my favorite. Because I play my music so loud, everybody at the shows—you know, all the security people and the people that work at the venues—they’re, like, “Who is she?” So, anyway. Back to Lorde. She just has to keep doing what she’s doing.

So you never thought you had to be, like, a tortured artist or experience heartbreak to write songs?

No, but I don’t think that you pick your experiences in heartbreak. “Gypsy” was about my friend who died [Robin]. And that was the worst year of my life, you know? But I wrote “Gypsy” about it, and about her. Little bits of her are in a lot of my songs.

So you can use the tragedy. “Always been a storm” [from the song “Storms”]—that I wrote about my best friend who moved in with my boyfriend, Mick, and her husband had to call and tell me that. “Sarah moved in with Mick, I just wanted you to know that.” And I jetted out the back door into the mountains and sat out there for three hours contemplating my future, ’cause, well, I just lost my best friend and I lost Mick, and I’m in a band with Mick, which means I can’t just dump Mick.

The song, it says, “Every night that goes between I feel a little less / As you slowly go away from me / This is only another test / Every night you do not come, your softness fades away / Did I ever really care that much? / Is there anything left to say? / Every hour of fear I spend, my body tries to cry / Living through each empty night, a deadly calm inside.” And then it says, you know, “Never have I been a blue calm sea / I have always been a storm.” So that came from that. And you know what? That’s worth it. That’s worth going through. And then, when you go back to sing those songs, you reattach yourself to what happened. And it’s O.K. because it’s not forever. It’s just for that moment. So, every time I sing that, I’m sitting up there on that mountain looking down at Doheny Drive in L.A., trying to figure out how I was going to make it through this.

What have you learned from your friendship with Christine [McVie]?

First of all, to be in a band with another girl who was this amazing musician—she kind of instantly became my best friend, even though I already had Robin. Christine was a whole other ballgame. She liked hanging out with the guys. She was just more comfortable with men than I had ever been. But she’s been playing in bands since she was, like, thirteen and had, like, famous people carrying her books home for her. Sometimes opposites really attract. She’d go, like, “You’re like such a girly girl.” And I’d be, like, “Well, I guess I am, but at the same time, I think I’m pretty hardcore too, Christine.” We met in the middle, and we were very protective of each other. We made a pact, in the very beginning, that we would never be treated with disrespect by all the male musicians in the community. And we really stuck to it. I think we did the pinky swear thing that, if we ever feel like we’re being treated like that, we would just get up and walk out—and we did. We would just say, “Well, this party is over for us.”

I would say to her, “Together, we are a serious force of nature, and it will give us the strength to maneuver the waters that are ahead of us.” Because we knew immediately that Fleetwood Mac was going to be huge. It was the second week of our first little three-month tour. We knew, almost like we could just look into the crystal ball. Christine’s mom was a medium—like, a psychic medium, right? And her mom had a lot to say about it, like, “It’s gonna be huge.” And, if it had just been me and John and Lindsey, it would have been a lot harder, because the guys could do anything they wanted. They could go to the bar after. They could find women. But not us, because we had a security guard standing right outside our room. So, unless we were going to bribe them, we could not get out of the hallway. In a way, we were very cloistered. It was better than being a part of that party every night. And besides, we had to sleep and we had to sing and we had to look good. We didn’t really have time to just be party animals.

People reach a point where they’re, like, “I just don’t want to do this anymore.” And it really never occurred to me, because I definitely still want to—I want to sing. But there are so many other creative things that give me a happy state of mind when I need it, that are in the future for me, that I really am excited about. So that’s really what fame allows you. It allows you to move around, step by step—you go up toward the stars to wherever it is that you want to go. There were the drugs, and those were difficult times. But I survived it. And there were points when I thought, Well, what if you don’t survive it? And then I’d go, like, “Oh, no, no, no, you’re going to survive. Because you still have lots of cool stuff left to do.”

People get knocked down because of their fame, and the Internet, and all the things that I hate. You keep yourself above that, hopefully. I always think of Katy Perry and I having this long talk at the Corinthia Hotel, in London, once, and she said to me—this is probably ten years ago—she said, “So, Stevie, who are your rivals?” And I said, “I don’t have rivals.” And her big blue eyes got bigger and bluer. And I said, “No, Katy, I don’t, and neither do you. You are Katy Perry, you’re who you are, you do what you do and you’re great at it. I’m Stevie Nicks, I do what I do and I’m great at it. We don’t have rivals. That’s just ridiculous.” And she said, “Well, there’s, like, the Taylor Swift army and there’s, like, the Katy army and there’s like—” And I was, like, “That’s just bullshit. You have to just walk away from that. Don’t carry that around in your mind because then they’re winning this game.”

You’ve talked about Prince’s work on your song “Stand Back,” and how it was inspired by “Little Red Corvette.” Can you talk about that?

I wrote “Stand Back” to “Little Red Corvette,” and I called him and I asked him to come over. He came to the studio and he played on it, overdressed to the nines in purple velvet. I saw him many times after that. We’d play Minneapolis, and he’d come and pick me up after my show. And we went to his purple house one night and we wrote a song. It’s not a great song, but it’s fun because we wrote it.

But, you know, the eighties were pretty bad drug years for me. And Prince was very not into drugs. And the fact that he ended up being on a lot of pain medication just blows my mind, because he was so against it, and he gave me so many lectures about it. I’d talk to him every once in a while on the phone, and we’d talk for hours, and he’d go, “You gotta be careful, Stevie.” And I’d go, “I know, I know.”

When “Purple Rain” came out, I went to the première, and I watched up until the part where he slapped Apollonia [Kotero] across the face really hard. That definitely wasn’t the Prince that I knew, and that just freaked me out. I got up and I walked out and went into the really beautiful bathroom of the Chinese Theatre, and I just sat in there for the rest of the movie. After it was over, there was a big massive “Purple Rain” party somewhere, and he said, “So what did you think of the movie?” And I said, “Well, when you slapped Apollonia it freaked me out and I went and sat in the bathroom.” He was not happy. He said, “You left? If you had watched the end, the slap would’ve made sense to you. I was, like, fighting for my life during that part.” And then, over the next two years, I watched it and I understood what he meant. You know, there was a reason for it.

And now that he’s gone I’m really just so sorry. My one regret with him is that I did not call him up one day and say, “Listen, I’m just coming in, I’m gonna fly in and come over to Paisley Park and just hang out with you for two days. Because I just would love to see you.” And that’s what I always tell people. Remember, every single day of your life, the people you love could be gone tomorrow. If anybody can take away from what we’re talking about right now, it’s the fact that life is very fragile. You can’t count on ever having a lot of time left.

Sometimes that awareness stifles me, though, because then what is the best way to spend the time you have?

I think, Tavi, when you are really creative, I think that staying in a creative place is the best thing you can do if you have any depression going on. I’m not bipolar, but I’m something. I call it the Nicks crazies. My dad and my two uncles and my grandfather, they all had it too. My brother. And when I have that the least is when I’m really involved in doing stuff.

It’s, like, just remember. Time passes. When you’re really in a hole, go talk to somebody now. Because it’s just going to get worse, you know. And do some fun things. Do something that really makes you happy. Or go out and rent some great movies that you’ve always wanted to see, like “Storks.” [Laughs.] It’s my favorite movie. I’ve watched it six times and it’s just so great. Have you seen it?

No. [Laughs.]

It’s the sweetest movie. It’s about the storks going out of business and they become, like, FedEx, and they only deliver packages. No more babies. And they accidentally push the wrong button and one baby comes through—there’s the little star of the whole movie. The storks are her only friends. You just have to buy this movie and have it on replay at all times. It’s a cartoon, but it’s a massive movie of life and love and sadness and tragedy. That’s my answer to depression: “Storks.”

This goes back a little bit to when we were talking about songwriting and heartbreak. What was it like to go into the studio with people you were going through that with, and singing what you had written about them?

Well, you just have to get over that. You just have to throw yourself into your song. I mean, I broke up with Lindsey in 1976. We’d only been in Fleetwood Mac for a year and a half, and we were breaking up when we joined Fleetwood Mac. So we just put our relationship kind of back together, because I was smart enough to know that, if we had broken up the second month of being in Fleetwood Mac, it would have blown the whole thing. I just bided my time, and tried to make everything as easy as possible, tried to be as sweet and as nice to Lindsey as I could be. He wasn’t happy, either. Then something happened that was, you know, “We’re done.” And he knew it. It was time. And the band was solid, by that time, so I could walk away knowing that he was safe. And that the band was safe. And that we could work it out.

You know, because you’re asking me about writing, I was thinking today about Rookie. Because that really is when I met you.


And it lives so strong in my mind. I wrote down notes and I wrote down, “Rookie,” and then I wrote down, “resting bitch face.” And then, after that, I wrote down, “I still use it.” But just thinking [of the picture from that article], of your room and your window, and that’s where you started this whole thing—and under that, I wrote, like, “Wow, mogul, publisher, empire builder.” So that’s where I thought you were going to go, that you were going to have your own publishing company and just completely blow the socks off, especially, all the men who think they’re so great. I had no idea that you were really going to be such a serious actress.

It’s strange, yes. I’m totally blushing.

I think it’s spectacular. How old are you now? [Jokingly] Forty?


Twenty-five?! I think you’re a very old soul. Maybe you’ve done this before in another life. When you’re my age, I won’t be here, but I’ll be watching, from up there, all the things that you have done. You’re going to end up doing stuff that you have no idea you’re going to do. It’s different than me. I knew I wanted to be a singer.

When did you know?

I wanted to start singing for real when I was in the fourth grade. I had a grandfather who was a country singer. And he left his wife, my grandmother—she was a piece of work, I could understand why he left her—and went off and played shows all over the country, but supported himself playing pool. He would come and visit us every once in a while, and he brought me tons of records. Tons of 45s. Everly Brothers. Lots of country music.

But then, when Top Forty radio really started to become R. & B., like the Supremes, and the Shirelles, and “my boyfriend’s back, and you’re gonna be in trouble”—well, I love that. So I made a U-turn and walked away from country in the fifth grade. We’d drive around in El Paso, Texas, and I would just be singing away to this R. & B., girl group, because they wrote all the hit songs. It was Motown, full on. And my mom and dad would turn around and look at me and go, “Who are you?” And that’s how I learned to sing.

I was fifteen and a half when they bought me my guitar, from my guitar teacher. It was a Goya classical guitar, which I still have, and I probably wrote a song in the first two days I had it. I was crying through the whole thing—my whole neck was wet, and the top of my guitar.

And then when I moved to San Francisco, many years later, that was Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and Chicago and Boz Scaggs and Buffalo Springfield and [David] Crosby and [Graham] Nash and James Taylor and Carole King—you could not pick a better time to have your family transferred to San Francisco. I graduated from high school in June, 1966, and that was it. That’s when it all happened. The Beatles were already big, and I was never a big Beatles fan. Lindsey was a big fan, but I really wanted to sing blues rock and roll, like Janis Joplin.

Then I got that call from the drummer saying, “You met Lindsey two years ago, and he remembers you, and he was wondering if you’d like to sing in our band.” And I said, “What kind of band is it?” thinking it could be anything, and he said, “It’s a real hard rock-and-roll band and I said, “O.K., I can do that.” And that was it.

Were your parents supportive?

I think they saw in my eyes that they were not going to deter the singer-songwriting person in me. My mom was a financial wizard, but when she married my dad he just squashed her. It was like there was only room for one star in this family. Anyway, she said, “You are going to be an independent woman if it kills me. Wherever you go, whatever you do, whether you’re a rock-and-roll star, or whether you’re the president of a company, or a lawyer, or whatever it is you decide to do, you are going to stand in the middle of a room full of men and you are going to be way ahead of them. They are never going to look down on you as a woman.” So my mom was a serious feminist. She implanted that in me.

But I think my mom and my dad both knew that we were going to make it. There are probably a lot of really brilliant artistic people out there who did not get that kind of support from their parents, so therefore didn’t do it. And I learned a lot from my dad. My dad ended up being the C.E.O. of Armour, Greyhound, and Dial. That’s meat, buses, and soap, but so many other things. I watched my dad carry his team all over to where we went—to Texas, to Utah, to Los Angeles, to San Francisco, to Chicago. I watched him be an amazing host, and I watched him know everybody’s name. And I watched him be really loving to all the people that he worked with. And I learned that from him. And from my mom I just learned to never back down. Or, if you were backing down, to back down so subtly that nobody really realized that you were backing down. She taught me how to maneuver through life without people really knowing that I was so clever—so that I was just moving the chess pieces as I went. And nobody really knew that, but I was.

I wanted to ask about your personal style. Where did your iconic look come from?

Well, I have to have a uniform, and I’ve always been that way. When we started, the midi length was really in. It was the boots and midiskirts, so you looked really long and tall even if you were short. And so my skirts started out really long, like, almost to my ankles. And they went up and down through the years. And I have them all. So I have the Stevie skirt in any possible length. I can remember, when I was twenty-eight, twenty-nine, I had my idea of what my clothes were going to be. I had met Margi Kent [Nicks’s designer], and I would say to her, “This outfit is going to . . . what’s the word for it? It’s going to stand the something of time . . .”

The test of time.

Yes, it’s going to stand the test of time, because I’m going to be able to wear this when I’m sixty. Sometime I’ll plan a day and I’ll let you go through all my clothes, because it’s spectacular. Every imaginable piece from everything you’ve ever seen, every photograph, is all in storages that are all temperature-controlled.

Online there is so much love for you and for your whole body of work, and it spans generations.

I know. I don’t necessarily see it, but I hear about it. Like when the TikTok “Dreams”-on-the-skateboard thing came up, that just cracked me up so much. I really did think that was amazing. Or the thing about how this one mother and dad, whenever their baby is screaming, they put on “Dreams” and the baby just stops. Just, like, lies back and gets comfortable and grooves along to “Dreams,” and then when it’s over baby starts screaming again. I love that, because that’s, like, O.K., so “Dreams” is two-ply—it’s a lullaby and it’s a cool song, right?

You talk a lot about symbols and signs that have reappeared throughout your life. They find ways into your music, and you’ve talked to me a little bit about signs that you get from people you’ve lost. When do you think you started noticing these occurrences and taking them seriously?

When my mom died, on the twenty-eighth of December, 2011, I started noticing that I would be looking for stuff, like a specific piece of jewelry. I just looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find it. And then I would say, like, “O.K., Mom, where is it?” And I swear to god, I would turn around and put my hand down and there it would be right under my fingers. And in my bigger house, where I have my little recording studio, I have this chandelier, it’s a crystal ship, and then I have this moon-and-stars machine that you can buy at any lamp store. And I point it up there and it makes the whole ship reflect all over the ceiling, and it looks like it’s in a big ocean. And when my mom first died, I’d get in bed and I would not be paying much attention, and then I would look up and see this one little crystal floating around up there, and at first I couldn’t quite figure out what it was, and then I realized it was just the way that the light was hitting a certain crystal, but then it became her ship, her sailing ship, her old-fashioned sort of the Lost Boys’ ship. And, to this day, whenever I go there and I turn that on, I just feel her come into that crystal, old-fashioned sailing ship and just let me know that she’s still there.

And so this really gave me a certain religious thing that I never would have had before. Sometimes when I walk on stage, if I’m really nervous, which isn’t often, I will say to Prince, “Prince, walk with me.” And he does. I believe he just suddenly is there with me. And I feel Tom [Petty]. [The night he died] I was up watching TV in my apartment that has this view all the way to the pier, and then all the way back to Point Dume. And, all of a sudden, I just looked over to the right and I saw this little red dot way far away down toward Malibu, and I went over to the window and I just stood there and I watched it come all the way up and kind of slow down, when it stopped at the street before me. And I realized, after Tom died, that that was Tom in that ambulance. Because then I went to the hospital the next morning, and that’s exactly when he left his house in Malibu and went to the hospital.

Do you think that inspiration comes from that same spiritual realm, when you like something that you feel compelled to write down?

Yes, absolutely, I do. Because, for me, anything that gives me an idea, it strikes me in the good part of my heart, right? I have other notebooks that are just lying around on my bed, and I’ll just pick one of them to really quickly write that sentence down. I have little things written everywhere, and I try to tear them out immediately and stick them in my journal. So it’s just a feeling of an experience that you had a long, long time ago, and you remember something about it that you hadn’t thought about in a long time.

I’ll give you an example: Somebody that I met right when the Crosby, Stills & Nash album came out [in 1969]. I had gone horseback riding in San Francisco, and I met this guy out there. And he was super, super cute. And he was leaving the next day for Spain. And I was, like, well, that’s really a bummer. And he said, “Well, I’ll be back in three months.” So it was very romantic, just out riding horses, and when he came back he brought me a poncho from Spain that actually was the template for the long sequin ponchos that I wear on stage today, and at the beginning of Fleetwood Mac.


That relationship kind of went on for a little while when he got back. But it was a mind-blowing experience, because it did cause an effect, you know? That poncho became one of the iconic things that I have worn ever since.

I was just actually writing something about that the other day, in a note-keeping little book. I can remember it that well, and bring back that incredible feeling I had out there on the horses, riding around in San Francisco. So, for me, anything, really, can cause that to happen out of nowhere. And sometimes I really feel like that’s the spirit world just tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me of something that I hadn’t thought about in a really long time.

Do you think there’s anything, specifically, that you do that makes you more open or receptive to getting these taps on the shoulder?

No, I don’t, actually. Because I think they happen out of nowhere, and I don’t think that they’re preceded by much. So I don’t think you’re necessarily ever closed. Like, we’ve come out of a two-year pandemic, but I have written—I would love to play it for you at some point—what I think is maybe one of the best songs I’ve ever written. And that made me really feel like there is no age limit on how good of a writer you can be. I hear all these older songwriters go, like, “I can’t write love songs anymore.” And I’m, like, “Well, that’s just stupid.” Because you have memories for days. Go open your memory library and check in there.

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