Stevie Nicks has enjoyed a glittering career, a run of creative form that has established her as one of rock music’s most treasured souls. Although it took a while for everything to get firing for the Fleetwood Mac singer, as soon as she joined the band, she never looked back.
Nicks, the creator of now-iconic tracks both with and without Fleetwood Mac, has established her style over a wide-ranging field of sounds. Here, however, we are focusing solely on her work with the group. Her solo career is rightly revered, but the impact that Nicks had on arrival when she joined Fleetwood Mac transformed them into the biggest band on the planet. Suddenly, in a short space of time, her life had transitioned from professionally floundering to international fame.
Even though Fleetwood Mac had the world at their feet following the obscene success that came with Rumours, personal turmoil ensued, and the band all found themselves at a loose end. Despite the relationship woes and pitfalls with addiction, it’s hard to imagine a world without the music they created during this challenging period.
A few songs stand out to Nicks from her career in Fleetwood Mac and inhabit a special place in her heart. Reflecting on her career in 2009 with EW, the singer picked out three tracks from the band’s repertoire and explored her connection to the numbers.
The first selection was ‘Gypsy’, which appeared on the group’s 1982 effort Mirage, and there’s a profoundly emotional story at the heart of the song. “In the old days, before Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey [Buckingham] and I had no money, so we had a king-size mattress, but we just had it on the floor. I had old vintage coverlets on it, and even though we had no money it was still really pretty… Just that and a lamp on the floor, and that was it—there was a certain calmness about it,” Nicks reflected.
“That’s the words: ‘So I’m back to the velvet underground’—which is a clothing store in downtown San Francisco, where Janis Joplin got her clothes, and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, it was this little hole in the wall, amazing, beautiful stuff—” back to the floor that I love, to a room with some lace and paper flowers, back to the gypsy that I was. So that’s what ‘Gypsy’ means: it’s just a search for before this all happened,” she added.
Fleetwood Mac song ‘Sara’ is incontestably the most personal track that Stevie Nicks has ever written. For decades, it’s been presumed that the Tusk number captures the moment that she was left heartbroken and completely bereft by her bandmate Mick Fleetwood’s infidelity — but there’s more to the song than just that.
“It was really about what was going on with all of us at that time,” Nicks admitted. “It was about Mick’s and my relationship, and it was about one I went into after Mick. Some songs are about a lot of things, some songs only have one or two lines that are that main thing, and then the rest of it, you’re just making a movie, writing a story around this one paragraph, that little kernel of life. ‘When you build your house’ was about when you get your act together, then let me know, because until you get your act together, I really can’t be around you.”
Her final selection is the effervescent ‘Landslide’. The track is, of course, a love song, though it’s not quite about what you might imagine. Far from an ode to her then-partner Lindsey Buckingham, the song is, in fact, a love letter to Nicks’ career and passion, arguably the only true love of her life; music.
“I was in Colorado around 1973, after me and Lindsey’s first record, and we’d just been dropped,” Nicks explained. “Lindsey had been offered a tour with the Everly Brothers, it was a good salary and we really needed the money, so we went to where either Don or Phil Everly lived, in Aspen, to rehearse. I had my best friend with me, and we went out to dinner one night and met these great guys, they just gave us their living room in their three-bedroom apartment—we stayed there for three months.
“So one day while I was sitting there on their floor, looking out the window at all the snow, I made a decision whether I wanted to continue a relationship with Lindsey, musically and romantically, and I decided that I was gonna give it another try, because we weren’t getting along very well, but the music was important. But I never told him what it was about ’til years and years later, maybe only in the last five. I knew it was a good song. Whether I had [the] sense if it would do anything or go anywhere? I don’t know [laughs]. But I knew it was really good.”
Stevie Nicks’ favourite Fleetwood Mac songs