Let us get one thing clear, right off the bat, Stevie Nicks is far more than an accumulation of the relationships she had. The singer is a double Rock and Roll Hall of Famer for a reason, and, pure and simple, that reason is unbridled talent. It is talent that got her the position in Fleetwood Mac, not the leg-up from Lindsey Buckingham that people think, it was talent that meant she enacted one of the most successful female rock solo careers of all time when she left Fleetwood Mac, and it was certainly talent that ensured she had a place with the band whenever she wanted to return.
Like all gifted songwriters, Nicks writes about the world around her. Not just the global society she witnessed or even the music industry that she was working in, but her very soul is laid bare in almost every song she has ever written. It means, more so than most artists, Nicks’ canon of music reads like a serialised diary, providing illuminating render to the star we saw in the magazines. Much like Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell, Nicks wasn’t afraid to share her life with her audience; in fact, she likely saw it as her duty.
With such duties comes a certain amount of pain. While Nicks has always assumed the role of ‘the artist’ with glee — happy to perch atop a lonely mountain top to be the best observer as well as immersing herself in the very turbulent nature of life — she must have some regret when treading over past lovers and relationships during a sold-out show. Some artists may avoid such treacherous footing, but for Nicks, it is an unavoidable evil.
Some of Nicks’ finest songs were written about those she loved, both when she was infatuated with them and when she wasn’t. It’s one of the qualifying statements every artist must face; how well can you express the most sincere emotions? Nicks does it naturally, with a gentle smile and the affable humanity of a regular Joe, far removed from the rock star ideology of old. Nicks always presented herself as constantly in a confusing pursuit of happiness, just like the rest of us.
And, just like the rest of us, Stevie Nicks has had her share of lover interest. Below, we’re picking out the ten best songs Stevie Nicks wrote about the men in her life.
The songs Stevie Nicks wrote about the men in her life:
‘Edge of Seventeen’
We’ll start our list not with a romantic number but with a song about John — two of them, actually.
When the news of John Lennon’s passing reached the world, the music industry recoiled in horror. It had finally happened; a crazed fan had finally taken the ultimate piece of memorabilia, a singer’s life. It left the industry heartbroken, and it arrived at a time when Nicks was already mourning the loss of her uncle, John.
“This was written right after John Lennon was assassinated,” noted the singer when speaking with Entertainment Weekly. “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. 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.”
Nicks later confirmed the song’s other intention: “Right when I got to Phoenix, my uncle Bill got cancer, got very sick very fast, and died in a couple of weeks. My cousin John Nicks and I were in the room when he died. There was just John and I there. That was part of the song when I went running down the hallways looking for somebody – I thought, where’s my mum? Where’s his wife and the rest of the family? At that point, I went back to the piano and finished the song.”
We thought we’d get the contentious songs out of the way first. Many people believe this song to be written about Lindsey Buckingham, and while there’s certainly enough truth in that claim to ensure its place on our list, the real intent of the track was an ode to music and a letter of comfort to her family.
Buckingham Nicks had failed. It was an unavoidable truth that Nicks couldn’t seem to accept. While Lindsey Buckingham was finding work in California’s studio sessions, Nicks was struggling to make ends meet and align her career hopes with her prospects. Things were looking bleak.
Staying the “snow covered hills” of Aspen with Buckingham out on tour, Nicks pledged to herself, Buckingham and her family that she would make it work. She would commit to being a musician and live out her life the way she had intended. Incidentally, while doing so, she wrote one of the greatest songs of her career.
You may have already guessed it, but we’re about to get into some murky water. As we travel through the rest of our list, most of the songs have a couple of different potential intended targets. One song, ‘Storms’ isn’t only keenly about one of the many inter-band affairs that occurred but about the sadness, Nicks felt about her own affair with Mick Fleetwood, as Nicks says, “That relationship destroyed Mick’s marriage.”
While other songs in Nicks’ repertoire see the singer opening herself up to the pain of being hurt, she is ready and waiting for criticism on’ Storms’. In fact, you could argue, ‘Storms’ is one song in which Nicks openly criticises herself, acknowledging the damage she caused through hers and Fleetwood’s relationship.
It’s far more sullen and exhausted than the rest of her work on the matter and is one of the more vulnerable moments on 1979’s Tusk because of it.
There are two possible contenders for ‘Beautiful Child’ The most obvious answer, and probably the one everybody points to, is that the song was written for Mick Fleetwood, as the singer often described him as a “large child”, but there is another option. Some have suggested the song was penned about “Beatles Manager” Derek Taylor, which had seemed far-fetched given the timings of the song.
Recorded for the tumultuous Tusk, the song stands out as one of Nicks’ finest numbers and, speaking as part of a Q&A session a few years back, Nicks revealed it was, in fact, about Taylor. “It didn’t last very long because he was married,” Nicks says, “but it affected me very much because he told me so many stories about the Beatles.”
“Everybody has your road manager,” Stevie Nicks adds. “We had J.C., crazy J.C. (John Courage, who also worked with Savoy Brown.) Led Zeppelin had Peter Grant. The road managers are the ones who know everything. And so I learned so much about him about the whole world of the Beatles that it was stunning.”
“I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you (give me just a chance)/ You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you (was I just a fool?)” sings Stevie Nicks on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours off-cut ‘Silver Springs’. The song was originally scheduled for the tumultuous masterpiece album before being relegated to being a b-side.
The song was penned in 1976 and captured a moment we have all felt in our lives. Nicks had broken up with Lindsey Buckingham, but the guitarist had moved on rather quickly, getting a new girlfriend in a short space of time. It hurt Nicks and saw the singer write one of the most obviously gushing songs about her ex.
As well as confirming within the song that she doesn’t want to know about his love life, she also promises to haunt Buckingham forevermore. When you think about it, she certainly made good on this one.
During the recording of Fleetwood Mac’s seminal record Rumours, songbird Stevie Nicks would often escape the intensity of the studio to take a break in the King of funk, Sly Stone’s room, as it was just down the hall in the same rehearsal space. It was there that Nicks would write one of the most beloved songs.
“It wasn’t my room, so it could be fabulous,” she recalled in the 1997 Classic Albums documentary on Rumours. “I knew when I wrote it that it was really special. I was really not self-conscious or insecure about showing it to the rest of the band.” The recording process was a scene that was worthy of escaping.
‘Dreams’ is a product of that highly-charged situation and sees Nicks firmly aim her now-ex-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham with unnerving ferocity and marksmanship.
Street Angel may well be one of Nicks’ least-loved albums, having been written in the middle of leaving Fleetwood Mac and her prescription drug addiction, but it did hold one beautiful moment, the gorgeous ‘Blue Denim’.
“It’s a song about this guy who came into my life but left just as quick,” she told WDVE, referring to her on and off-stage partner Buckingham. “And his eyes were that intense.” The track is equally beguiling and has a habit of capturing your mind’s eye and taking it on a ride.
It’s a pretty simple song as Nicks compositions tend to be, but it packs an emotional punch, the kind only a heavyweight like Nicks can deliver.
Fleetwood Mac song ‘Sara’ is incontestably the most personal track that Stevie Nicks has ever written. The Tusk number captures the moment that she was left heartbroken and completely bereft by her bandmate Mick Fleetwood’s infidelity.
Nicks’ relationship with Fleetwood was never a conventional one. While the relationship itself was an affair, the drummer broke that special bond the two enjoyed, an incident that left her feeling utterly betrayed. The relationship between the pair came when the Fleetwood Mac singer found herself painfully lonely despite dating Don Henley. While on the surface, they may have appeared as the perfect rock couple, their busy schedules meant that, actually, they weren’t much of a couple at all. The situation led to Nicks starting a cocaine-fuelled affair with her bandmate. She later opened up to Oprah about the ‘doomed’ affair, saying they were the “last two people at a party” and that, “It was a doomed thing [that] caused pain for everybody.”
Writing a song about your lover deserting you for somebody else is always going to be a difficult task, one filled with raw emotion. What made Nicks’ task infinitely more difficult was that the person who had wronged her was somebody she was forced to spend time with every day and, to make things even worse, he needed to assist her creativity. Rather than being overawed by the challenge at hand, Stevie Nicks had no qualms about letting Mick Fleetwood know exactly how his behaviour left her feeling, and ‘Sara’ remains one of the greatest tracks she has ever penned.
‘Beauty and the Beast’
There may be some speculation around some of Nicks’ songs, amid the source of the inspiration, but this one is clear as day. Nicks is quick to point this out too.
“It was definitely about Mick,” she confirmed, “but it’s also based on the 1946 Jean Cocteau movie. I first saw it on TV one night when Mick and I were first together, and 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.
But perhaps most importantly, the film offered a reflective moment: “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.”
‘Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You’
While all of the above men may have had an influence on Stevie Nicks’ life, they are, in fact, only the most famous faces of the bunch. Nicks’ real love, the one many call her “great, great love”, was Joe Walsh of the Eagles. During one of their drives through the Rocky Mountains, Walsh opened up to Nicks about the loss of his young daughter, who had sadly died in a car accident a decade earlier.
Walsh showed Nicks a drinking fountain that he had installed in tribute to his daughter with a plaque that reads “For All Those Who Aren’t Big Enough to Get a Drink.” It rocked Nicks and convince her to begin writing this delicate and touching piano ballad.
Nicks knocked most of the song off in five minutes, such was the intense feeling, and she accurately denotes such vivid emotions within the song. While it was written for Walsh, its sentiment is universal as Nicks sings: “If not me/ Then do it for the world”.