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Music

Stevie Nicks picks out the five best songs of her career

@SamWKemp

Stevie Nick’s Chiffon-clad public image has preceded her for over 40 years now. With Fleetwood Mac – and later as a solo artist – Nicks dominated the landscape of American pop, burning a trail right through the heart of popular culture. While she is a little less chaotic than she once was and hasn’t released new music since her 2011 album In Your Dreams, Nicks’ presence still looms large. Having a trunkload of top ten singles in your discography will do that.

Opening up about some of her favourite records from her extensive career, Nicks told Entertainment magazine, Nicks expressed her undying affection for ‘Gypsy’ from Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 album Mirage. As the singer explained, before Fleetwood Mac made it big, she and Mick Fleetwood had no money and shared a mattress placed on the floor. “To this day, when I’m feeling cluttered, I will take my mattress off of my beautiful bed, wherever that may be, and put it outside my bedroom, with a table and a little lamp,” she said. “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,” Nicks concluded.

Of course, Nicks couldn’t list the best songs of her career without at least mentioning her breakthrough solo single ‘Edge Of Seventeen’. It’s rarely mentioned, but the track was written just after John Lennon was assassinated in 1980: “That was a very scary and sad moment for all of us in the rock and roll business, it scared us all to death that some idiot could be so deranged that he would wait outside your apartment building, never having known you, and shoot you dead,” Nicks commented. “If you were the president of the United States, maybe, but to just be a music person, albeit a Beatle? And to be shot and killed in front of your apartment, when you had a wife and two kids? That was so unacceptable to all of us in our community. So the white dove was John Lennon, and peace.”

Stevie Nicks’ next choice comes from Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 album Tusk. ‘Sara’ is often misconstrued as a song about Mick Fleetwood’s ex-wife Sara Recor, but Nicks has always denied this. “I used her name because I love the name so much,” she began, “But it was really about what was going on with all of us at that time. 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.”

Another of Nicks’ favourite tracks was also written about her relationship with Mick Fleetwood. ‘Beuty And The Beast’ was inspired by Jean Cocteau’s 1946 fairytale adaptation of the same name, which Nicks saw on TV one night after the pair first got together. The parallels between their relationship and that of Belle and the Beast were immediately apparent. “I always thought of Mick as being sort of Beauty and the Beast-esque, because he’s so tall and he had beautiful coats down to here, and clothes made by little fairies up in the attic, I always thought [laughs], so he was that character in a lot of ways,” Nicks said. “And also, it matched our story because Mick and I could never be. A, because Mick was married and then divorced and that was not good, and B, because of Fleetwood Mac.”

Stevie Nicks’ five favourite tracks:

  • ‘Gypsy’ from Mirage – Fleetwood Mac (1982)
  • ‘Edge Of Seventeen’ from Bella Donna – Stevie Nicks (1981)
  • ‘Sara’ from Tusk – Fleetwood Mac (1979)
  • ‘Beauty And The Beast’ from The Wild Heart – Stevie Nicks (1983)
  • ‘How Still My Love’ from Bella Donna – Stevie Nicks (1981)

Meanwhile, Nicks’ final choice, ‘How Still My Love’, carries a far more overtly sexual tone than the whimsical ‘Beauty And The Beast’. While Nicks isn’t known for declarations of unrestrained lust, this track is practically burlesque in its woozy sensuality. “It’s got a really great beat—kind of a strip-tease, a little Dita Von Teese-y,” Nicks said. “The title actually came from two different books I saw in some hotel, one was called How Still My Love and one was called In the Still of the Night, and I used both, but I never even opened up the books [laughs], so I have no idea what they were about. Whenever I come into a room with a library, in a hotel or whatever, I pull them all down and just sit—I get a lot of ideas that way.”

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