Stevie Nicks on her solo album, the Mac and being Tom Petty
If you paid even a modicum of attention during Fleetwood Mac's reunion tour last fall, it was clear that gypsy-garbed Stevie Nicks was still the star of the show, just like she was during the Seventies. Trim and healthy, she got the biggest cheers and entranced the audience just as she had two decades before, when the Mac was riding high on the mega-million selling success of Rumours and its attendant slew of hit singles.
Now, with Fleetwood Mac taking a breather, Nicks is going her own way once again, with her most prodigious display of musical wares since she began her parallel solo career in 1981. She recently released Enchanted: The Works of Stevie Nicks, a three-CD boxed set that contains her solo hits, choice album cuts and a bunch of rarities including soundtrack songs, collaborations, outtakes and a haunting, spare piano version of "Rhiannon."
She kicks off a tour, with Boz Scaggs opening, on May 27 in Connecticut; when that wraps up in early August, she plans to finish up her first solo album in four years -- and her first release for her new label, Warner/Reprise. After the early Nineties getting off cocaine and Klonopin, the drug that helped cure her coke addiction, Nicks is ready to answer her own question. Will she ever win? Nicks says yes.
Rolling Stone: This is quite a productive period for you.
Stevie Nicks: It's almost like I didn't ask for any of this; it just happened. I was truly starting on a record of my own when the whole world changed ... upside down.
RS: You had started on your next album when the Fleetwood Mac reunion popped up?
SN: Yes. All of a sudden this thing about Fleetwood Mac happened, and as the days went by there was more talk, and then somebody from Warner Bros. actually came up and said [Lindsey Buckingham] really is going to put his record on the shelf to do this. I said, 'Well, I don't believe that,' 'cos he said that a million times before. So I called him and I said 'Lindsey, I need you to tell me what's happening, because if we really are going to do this ... I'm not even going to start my record and have to stop it.' And he said, 'No, I'm going to do it.' I said 'You're sure? You promise?' He said 'Yes.' And then, when I got home from the Fleetwood Mac thing, I was told Atlantic felt this was a good time to do the box set, since I was going to Warner/Reprise. So all of these things just sort of happened, to my surprise.
RS: You were so clearly the fan favorite during the tour. How does the rest of the band deal with that now?
SN: I think probably it's fine and fairly easy for everybody in the band except Lindsey. I think it's hard for Lindsey because we started out together. I think he goes, like, 'When did you do all this? Why do you get this kind of reaction?' And I think that is hard for him. So I don't talk to him a lot about it. It's kind of like, what we do together is what we talk about. I don't want to make Lindsey unhappy. I care about him and want him to be happy.
RS: Do you foresee another Fleetwood Mac project?
SN: I don't have a sense of if and when, but I don't have a sad feeling about it. I feel that what we did this last year, it was great. Everybody had a great time. It was a little hard on Christine [McVie], but I think she will change her mind and she will get bored and say 'Oh, I want to do this one more time.' There's no way this band won't play again. I just know that when the time is right, it'll come back together. It'll probably be in two years, two and a half years.
RS: What was it like compiling the Enchanted boxed set?
SN: It was like going through the photo album that went along with all those records, that went along with my life. Those songs are the photo album of my life, because each one of those songs really was about something pretty heavy, for me to write a song about them. And when you put them all together ... it's a pretty tumultuous bunch of songs.
Closing it with the new version of "Rhiannon" is pretty striking. It really provides a coda for your career up to this point.
I really hoped that's how people would take it. You know, there almost wasn't time to do that "Rhiannon." We came back from Germany and I was sick and we went in and did it. And it turned out really good except that I was sick and you can hear it. And I said 'No, this can't be it. This isn't the "Rhiannon" I want the world to hear. It's the only time I'll ever play it like this, like the way I wrote it, for the world, and it can't be like this.' So I went in really late, spent about two hours, and I did it twice, and the one that you hear is the second one. And I was so pleased because I said this is probably going to be the most special thing on this whole record ... This is really important that this song is here and that it's done by just me and that it's the last song on all three discs.
RS: What's the deal with your version of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'?"
SN: Someone at Warner/Reprise asked me if I wanted to record it for Party of Five. I love the song and I've always wanted to do it, and they gave me a reason to do it. It fits right in; that's why Tom is my favorite writer. I kind of feel that if I had come into this world as a boy, I would have been him. I really do. I feel like there's a part of Tom's writing that I relate so easily to. He's doing another record now. I can honestly say that one of the things I'm looking forward to most of all is hearing these new songs of his.
RS: Enchanted also has the first Buckingham-Nicks song ("Long Distance Winter") to ever appear legitimately on CD. Will the album ever be re-released?
SN: Lindsey says yes. Lindsey has said he will do it. See, I own half, he owns half. I can't put it out without his half. Plus, we don't have a record deal for it. So before the Buckingham-Nicks record would be released, we would have to do the whole thing to release a record. But he says he wants to now, so I would tend to say we'll do it and put it on CD.
RS: What's your next album going to be like?
SN: The title song is written -- "Trouble in Shangri-La." It's like Bella Donna; it's a definite concept album. It's about achieving Shangri-La and not being able to handle it.
RS: Sounds like a true story.
SN: (Laughs) Oh, yes. I understand it all pretty well. Going through all these songs [for Enchanted] made me take a walk back through my life and made me think about things I'd forgotten and about experiences that were pretty strong and really touched and changed my life ... really see what were the good things and what were the bad things. Just wisdom, you know? I think I'm really smarter than I used to be, and I don't take anything for granted now.
RS: Any regrets?
SN: No, because the things that I've wanted to do that I haven't done, I will do. I want to do a children's cartoon movie. And I want to do a Rhiannon record with just the songs of Rhiannon -- 'cos there's Rhiannon but there's also nine other songs I did right in that period of two years, when I was reading the books of Rhiannon.
RS: You once talked about wanting to adopt a child. Is that still an ambition?
SN: I don't really need children. I have a niece who's six, who certainly fills my life up as far as a child goes. I'm gonna just work on my work. I don't think the world is going to have that much of a problem with me not being married or having a family. I don't think that's why I came here. I have something that's really important to do, and I don't think I've done that yet.
(May 14, 1998)
Thanks to George Jenkins for sending this article to The Nicks Fix.
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