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The "crushing" moment that convinced Stevie Nicks she wanted to be a songwriter


There’s something about being a teenager. The intensity of those years casts everything in a melodramatic light. And while it might feel awful at the time, a part of me misses that feeling – a sense of being the lead actor in a crap melodrama from the 1970s. The intensity of emotion we felt in adolescence might have made sadnesses more pronounced, but it also made things more joyous. Sure, being dumped was fairly crushing, but the rush of listening to a song that captured that feeling of being crushed usually made up for it. For Stevie Nicks, the chaotic swirl of her teen years served as the backdrop for a discovery that would shape the rest of her life.

Stevie Nicks’ love life inside the music industry is well-documented. However, her romantic escapades prior to her becoming the charismatic singer of Fleetwood Mac are more mysterious.

Nicks’ family moved from place to place, rarely staying in one location for long. By the time she graduated high school, she’d lived in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and California. “Well, we moved — a lot,” Nicks tells Stephen Davis in Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks. “So I was always the new girl. I knew I wasn’t going to have much time to make friends, so I made friends quickly and I adjusted really well, and when I’d say, ‘I’m gonna miss my room,’ my mom would always say, ‘There’s always a better house.”

It was in California that Nicks took her first tentative steps into the world of romance. She was 15, and it wasn’t long before she’d had her first kiss. “I honestly feel that I was as in love with him as I have been in love with anybody else for the rest of my life,” Nicks told CHUM Radio in 2001. “I mean, that is why I wrote my first song, because I went out with somebody for a month and a half, at fifteen and a half, you know, and totally fell in love with him, and really fell in love with him, and wrote my first song.”

The details Nicks subsequently gave about the relationship seem as though they’ve been plucked from the annuls of Fleetwood Mac’s incestuous romantic history. Nicks and her 15-year-old boyfriend dated for a month or so before he left her for Nicks’ best friend. “I had fallen for this incredible guy, and he ended up going out with my best friend,” she said. “And they both knew that I was going to be crushed.”

Dumbstruck by the cruelty of it all, the ambitious young musician channelled her disappointment into a song, one of her earliest compositions. “I was totally in tears, sitting on my bed with lots of paper, my guitar, and a pen, and I wrote this song about your basic sixteen-year-old love affair thing that I was now going through,” Nicks recalled.

When she put the guitar down, she found she had crafted her first fully-formed original song. “I finished that song, hysterically crying. And I was hooked,” she explained. “When I played my own song later that night, I knew — from that second on — that I was not going to sing a lot of other people’s songs. I was going to write my own.”

It was the beginning of everything for Nick, the spark that started the fire. Arguably we owe everything from ‘Dreams’ to ‘Edge Of Seventeen’ to one fleeting high school romance. It makes you wonder how much our own lives have been shaped by those first forays into love.