Stevie Nicks is the stuff of rock ‘n roll lore. With a career spanning 40 years, she is woven into the very fabric of American popular music. Whether it be those stories of her wild, coke-addled days with Fleetwood Mac or her reinvention as a solo act in the 1980s, Nicks has always kept it interesting.
With a career that long, it’s surprising that Nicks has been able to keep her passion for music alive. For many, once the hey-day has been and gone, and the press has moved on, the urge to create quietly slips away. But not for Stevie Nicks. Now in her seventies, the ‘Dreams’ singer is still performing live (Covid permitting) and releasing albums year after year. And in all of her work, up to the present day, there is a sense of romanticism, of teenage idealism.
For her fans, it is this undying romanticism that is half of the appeal. Despite her troubled relationship with the press, her numerous heartbreaks and setbacks, Nicks is an example of an artist who has walked through the holy fire of the music business and emerged unburnt. It’s just as well because if there’s one thing that doesn’t lead to good art, it’s bitterness.
Speaking of her continual drive to stay true to her teenage romanticism, Nicks said: “It’s very sad, once you stop being a romantic, you can no longer be a poet. If you are, you’re a lousy poet and nobody’s going to want to read your poems because they’re just jaded and miserable. If you can’t write something that’s going to inspire people they’re not going to read it. They’re going to look at your work and then they’re going to say, ‘This person is done. That career is over.'”
It’s a refreshing take on artistry, one which stands in stark contrast to the macho wallowing of Charles Bukowski, a poet with spectacular one-liners such as: “I don’t hate people. I just feel better when they aren’t around,” and “Of course it’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well.”
Cripes, if there’s anyone to make you want to cry into your Weetabix, surely it’s Bukowski. Nicks, however, is of the more optimistic belief that to make decent art you need to believe that people are fundamentally good and that they aren’t on the earth purely to crush your spirit.
Nicks goes on to say: “To inspire people, to make people feel things—that’s why we do this. Maybe you want to make people sob the way we were sobbing the other night at the movies—me and two friends, all of us sobbing so hard we can’t even look at each other—that’s actually a really beautiful thing. If you can’t do that or if you can’t make somebody laugh and remember the first time they ever fell in love, then you should just stop.”
“You should not destroy your former career by trying to keep things going if you don’t have it anymore and the work isn’t coming from the right place. You should just count your money and make investments in real estate and be done. That’s it. You should just go to do something else,” Nick’s concluded.
Oh, how I wish more musicians lived by that rule. Naming no names, the world would certainly be less full of posturing, leathery rock stars well past their prime, flogging a dead horse for all its worth. Still, it’s wonderful to see that there is at least one artist with an outlook based not on ticket sales, but passion, depth, and self-discovery. Long live Stevie Nicks.