Life after Fleetwood Mac for Stevie Nicks
Just in the Nicks of time
by Gregg Shapiro
Growing up in Chicago, the TV concert series Soundstage was always a source of pride for me, coming as it did from local PBS station WTTW's northside studio. So imagine my excitement when I learned the Soundstage program that Stevie Nicks filmed was being released on DVD as Live in Chicago (Reprise/Warner Bros.), with a companion CD, The Soundstage Sessions (Reprise/Warner Bros.). The 17-song DVD and 10-track CD are bound to elate Nicks' fans, who will delight in her performances of beloved originals as well as songs by Dave Matthews, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin. I spoke with Nicks in late March, on the day before The Soundstage Sessions was set for release.
Gregg Shapiro: For your first filmed and recorded live show in nearly 25 years, what was it about the Soundstage performance that led you to want to release it as the Live in Chicago DVD?
Stevie Nicks: Well, what happened was in 2005, we got an offer to do four shows at Celine Dion's big theater, the Coliseum at Caesar's [Palace]. I was in Maui, and I got a call from my manager and he said, "I need you to come in and see Celine on this stage because she leaves after the show tonight and Elton [John] comes in tomorrow. So you could see Celine and Elton in two days and decide whether or not you'd like to do this because they've offered you four shows." Getting your foot in the door to play Vegas once in a while is not a bad thing.
So I'm like sorry, I'm on my Rhiannon-quest here in Maui, so I don't think I'll be able to do that. And he goes, "I'll see you Tuesday." So off I went. My guitar player Waddy [Wachtel] and I watched Celine, then we watched Elton, and we're like, "Oh, my God, we can't do this!" You have to build a world here. This is a massive IMAX theater, and the screens are a hundred feet tall. You can't just take your little rock band in there. We're like, "Can we do this?" Elton filmed everything he ever did, and Celine has Cirque du Soleil. What do we have? So we said, call everybody that we know, and we got every ounce of film that was ever taken of us. Every snapshot, every video for every single. We took a bunch of my drawings and photographed them. We got this artist, Sulamith Wulfing, we got permission to use some of her drawings. So we mixed Sulamith's drawings, my drawings, all the film footage, photographs, gave them to our lighting and stage guy and said, "OK, here it is. Build a world."
We did those four shows, and they were great. Then we went to Chicago, rehearsed for three weeks, and filmed it.
The songs on the companion CD The Soundstage Sessions are cleaned up, in that the audience response to the songs was edited out. Why did you choose to go that route?
I said, "Let's try to make this into a little album. Let's pull the 10 most unfamiliar songs. Let's take the Fleetwood Mac songs out, and put in 'If Anyone Falls,' 'Sorcerer,' the Dave Matthews song, and the Bonnie Raitt song. Let's put the unfamiliar things from the show on the disc, take the applause off, go to Nashville and redo some vocals, add some strings, and make this a distinctly different piece of work that can go out along with this DVD."
Your song "Landslide" has been covered by Dixie Chicks, Smashing Pumpkins, and Ann Hampton Callaway. How do you feel when you hear other people's interpretations of that song?
I love it when people take it upon themselves to interpret something. It's no different, really, than me trying to interpret "Crash into Me" by Dave Matthews. Who would have ever thought that I would do that? So who would ever think that people would try to do "Landslide?" Because most people would be like, "Oh, that's a Stevie Nicks song, I can't do that." The fact that somebody is brave enough to do that is great! Every time somebody does "Landslide," it takes my music and spreads it out over the world.
Your songs "Edge of 17" and "Gypsy" inspired the gay coming-of-age movies Edge of Seventeen and Gypsy 83. Have always been aware of your gay following?
I became aware of it with Night of a Thousand Stevies . I am thrilled and honored that the gay community backs my music. I always kid that one day, all you Night of a Thousand Stevies people, one day I'll be there, in complete dress, and you won't know it. I'll be hulking around somewhere, standing behind you, so be careful what you say, because I could be standing next to you at any moment!