“We all really basically have a lot of magic … it’s only those of us that choose to accept it that really understand it.” — Stevie Nicks
We’ve been admirers of Stevie Nicks ever since we first laid ears on her, and she captivated us with her searing vocal and endearing personality. The singer, famed for her leading role in the stadium-sized success of Fleetwood Mac as well as her stunning solo career, has always remained one of those rock and roll icons that feels otherworldly. Her status as a Double Rock & Roll Hall of Famer adds to that mystique, but it’s her command of poetry and music entwined that really elevates Nicks.
Like Bowie before her, Nicks has always managed to possess a kind of ethereal luminescence, which allows her to float across genre, subject and sound with impressive ease. It’s also something that has allowed her to become an almost unattainable character in music.
She guaranteed her ascension into the Mount Olympus of rock a long, long time ago, but the singer is still gaining new fans with every chance listening on the radio or your latest streaming platform shuffle. That’s because to hear ‘Landslide’ just once is to fall for Stevie Nicks and her mesmeric vocal. This almost mythic quality to both her rock persona and her singing voice has left fans, like us, hungry for insights into Nicks as a person.
We’ve looked before at the singer’s favourite books and her ability to transform her love of literature into textured music and authentic lyrics. But now we’re happy to bring you this 2011 interview with The Guardian where Nick details the songs and albums which soundtracked her early life. Below, we also have the full playlist so you can listen along.
It’s a great read, as Nicks puts down into words how certain songs and albums have influenced her life in so many ways. She selects songs that marked the start of her rock and roll life, albums that remind her of friends and everything in between. Let’s start with that inflammatory song that sparked the fire of rock and roll in the belly of Stevie Nicks and set her on the path to greatness.
That would be the 1967 Buffalo Springfield hit ‘Rock and Roll Woman’: “Hearing this for the first time was like seeing the future. [Sings] ‘And she’s coming, singing soft and low…’ When I heard the lyrics, I thought: that’s me! They probably wrote it about Janis Joplin or someone like that but I was convinced it was about me.”
Having moved to the bustling San Francisco in her last year of high school, Nicks would be dumped in the middle of the notorious Summer of Love when 100,000 people would descend on the Haight-Astbury neighbourhood. “By 1968 I was in a band with Lindsey. His family lived in the same gated community as us, and we would practise at his house. My mum and dad liked him,” Nicks shares.
The next selection is a pivotal record for all those fans of Stevie Nicks’s work in Fleetwood Mac. Nicks’ picks Crosby, Stills & Nash’s self-titled 1969 record and says it is the “album that taught me how to sing harmony.” Such a vital column of Fleetwood Mac’s legend would not have been possible with CS&N. She tells The Guardian, “I spent a whole summer singing along to this record. I loved the harmonies, and learned to sing all three of the parts. I knew that I wanted to be in a band with the same kind of harmonies.”
Having been involved in the music business since she was a senior in high school Nick has performed a lot in her career but there’s still one song she puts on before she goes out on stage, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blonde in the Bleachers’.
As Nicks explains, the track is “about a girl who [sings] tapes her regrets to the microphone stand, she says ‘you can’t hold the hand of a rock’n’roll man for very long'”. I never saw myself as the girl in the song – I identified with the rock’n’roll star.” The ‘Rhiannon’ singer continues, “I was never gonna be the groupie. I was the star, I was sure of that. I listen to that song to this day.”
One album has a more textured set of emotions to accompany it, the LP Nicks picks acts as a reminder of when she was “down and out in Los Angeles”, she selects Court And Spark by Joni Mitchell. The 1974 record represents a troubling time for the singer, a moment when her musical path was littered with obstacles both professional and personal, “Lindsey and I were coming to the end of our relationship, and I’d met someone else.”
The album was a stark reminder to Nicks that she was not achieving her dream of becoming a pop star, often ruminating on whether to keep going at all. She told Gareth Grundy: “It was the only time I ever felt music might not work out. I talked to my parents about going back to school, because I was tired of being a cleaning lady, a waitress and a rock’n’roll star at the same time. We were really poor.”
However, things would look up as “by the end of that year Mick Fleetwood had asked us to join Fleetwood Mac, sight unseen. Keith Olsen had played him Buckingham Nicks and told him Lindsey and I came as a pair“. The journey to stardom had begun and from it, she moved through an illustrious career that acts a golden example of the rock and roll lifestyle – both good and bad.
The last record to be discussed on the list is John Mayer’s 2009 LP Battle Studies, which after a recording mishap meant Nicks could have a Hawaiian holiday, soon became the album that reminds her of friends.
As she explains, “So me and four of my friends went on holiday, drove over the mountains and listened to this record all the time. I don’t listen to other music when I’m actually writing as I don’t like to be influenced by other things. You don’t want to end up rewriting something that’s already been written.”
There you have it some of Stevie Nicks’ most treasured music all together in one place and even fully laid out in the playlist below. Enjoy.