Explore the stunning vocals of Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks with this collection of isolated tracks
Many rock stars use costumes and high-fashion ‘looks’ to distract from a lack of talent and while Stevie Nicks has always been partial to a stage costumer or two, it was always in addition to her unstoppable talent.
The singer, who made her name as the fulcrum of Fleetwood Mac went on to shed further distractions from her talent and go solo in 1981. Following the departure, Nicks’ strength as a songwriter grew and with a series of sensational releases she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once with Fleetwood Mac and once on her own merit.
Though songs like ‘Landslide’ and ‘Rhiannon’ showcased Nicks as an extremely talented songwriter, it was when using her beautiful singing voice that she truly ascended into her art. There’s something intrinsically freeing about Nicks’ vocals on all her songs that feels both ethereal yet utterly connecting.
Nicks has an uncanny ability to empathise with her subject, whether autobiographical like ‘Landslide’ or indeed he ex-partner’s potshot at her ‘Go Your Own Way’ or something far more mystical like ‘Rhiannon’, Nicks always connected with the heart of the song.
She brought out the most basic human emotions of the song to a rich and textured complexity and then covered it all in a blanket of golden-hued vocals. It meant that while Nicks may have been singing about the death of a friend or relationship, you could still sweetly sing it to you lover.
Below we’re taking a look back at some of her favourite vocal moments from Stevie Nicks’ incredible career.
‘Rooms On Fire’
On her fourth album, Stevie Nicks was a consummate professional. She had outgrown the trouble and tribulations that surrounded her time in Fleetwood Mac and she asserted herself as an artist in her own right.
In the perfect example of that comfort is Nicks’ polished performance on ‘Rooms On Fire’ as she delves deep into her heart and delivers a beautifully honeyed vocal performance.
Released by Fleetwood Mac in 1975, Nicks would often preface her performance of the track with “This song’s about an old Welsh witch” It’s a little known fact that truthfully McVie and Nicks had written the song about an old folkloric tale of a witch from the valleys.
It was a theme close to Nicks’ heart and even saw the singer scout out a potentially large project for ‘Rhiannon’ that sadly never came to fruition. But it never stopped Nicks enjoying the song and its mystical subject matter. Below listen to the isolated vocal as Nicks empowers her protagonist with more magic than she can handle.
‘Edge of Seventeen’
The song represented the moment Stevie Nicks finally stood out on her own. Though she had released two songs prior to this, both of them had been duets and so offered a little shelter from the spotlight. ‘Edge of Seventeen’ however put Nicks and her singing talent front and centre.
The song, produced by Tom Petty and Jimmy Iovine for her 1981 solo record Bella Donna, is entrenched in the enveloping emotion of loss. Written in part about Tom Petty and his wife Jane, following the latter’s pronunciation of the phrase “age of seventeen”, the track took on a new meaning following the death of her uncle John and John Lennon
Nicks tells BAM of the track: “The most recent [song on Bella Donna] is ‘Edge of Seventeen’, which is also my favourite song on the record… ‘Edge of Seventeen’ closes it [the album]—chronologically, anyway—with the loss of John Lennon and an uncle at the same time. That song is sort of about how no amount of money or power could save them. I was angry, helpless, hurt, sad.”
Speaking in 1991, Nicks shared her difficulty with dealing with those emotions, of losing her Uncle to cancer: “I have to deal with it every single night when I sing it. That’s why I can [sing it]. When that song starts, I go back to that week. And it’s not like I try.”
A range of emotions are uniquely and individually expressed with every note and musical blank space of ‘Edge of Seventeen’.Nicks is as able to control silence as she is her vocal chords, and on this isolated vocal track of the song allows us all to fall a little bit further in love with Stevie Nicks, as she inhabits the role of the sirenic poet.
It marks Stevie Nicks out as the future solo star she was destined to be. A track about the duality of taking cocaine and finding love in all the wrong places is expertly delivered with Nicks’ dulcet tone as she hides the sadness of the track in a golden sheen.