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Music

The Stevie Nicks song you have to be "a little crazy" to understand

As one of the most important female voices in rock music, Stevie Nicks has enjoyed a career spanning five decades over which music has developed dramatically. Her impact on pop music since joining Fleetwood Mac in the mid-1970s is incalculably vast, with myriad subsequent acts labelling Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks as key influences. 

Nicks’ main talent lies in singing and lyrical composition. Over the years, she has been lucky to have worked with some fantastic musicians who have given her unique voice a medium in which to be heard. In the early days, this was, of course, her first love, Lindsey Buckingham.

The singer met Buckingham during her senior year at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California. Nicks was out one night at the Young Life Club, where she watched Buckingham playing a cover of Barry McGuire’s ‘California Dreamin’, and she decided to join him in harmony. This romantic image marked the beginning of one of the most successful yet notoriously tempestuous musical relationships of all time.

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Both were invited to join Fleetwood Mac in 1974 and with the revitalisation of Buckingham’s guitar mastery and Nicks’ lyrical and vocal contributions, the band released their most popular release to date with the eponymous 1975 album. This chart success was consolidated two years later with the release of Rumours, which remains to this day Fleetwood Mac’s most popular and best selling album. 

By the early 1980s, the tensions that had been rife within the band since 1976 appeared to come to a head, and while the group didn’t fully disband, Nicks looked to stretch her legs somewhat and pursued a solo career. For her solo material in the 1980s, Nicks began to source her musical expertise and inspiration from outside Fleetwood Mac for the first time in her professional career. 

One of her close friends and collaborators in the 1980s was Rick Nowels. Nowels wrote the music for what would become Nicks’ ‘I Can’t Wait’ from her 1986 album, Rock a Little. The song became Nowels’ first Hot 100 single as a songwriter, but he went on to find further success with writing credits for Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’, Madonna’s ‘The Power Of Goodbye’ and Lana Del Rey’s Summertime Sadness’ among others. 

Discussing ‘I Can’t Wait’ in the liner notes of her compilation album, Timespace, Nicks wrote: “To understand this song, you sort of have to let yourself go a little crazy. Love is blind, it never works out, but you just have to have it. I think this was about the most exciting song that I had ever heard.”

She continued explaining how the song was initiated by Nowels. “My friend, Rick, whom I had known since I was 18 and he was 13, brought over this track with this incredible percussion thing, and gave it to me asking me if I would listen to it and consider writing a song for it. I listened to the song once and pretended not to be that knocked out, but the second Rick left, I ran in my little recording studio and wrote ‘I Can’t Wait.’”

“It took all night, and I think it is all about how electric I felt about this music. And that night, that SATURDAY night, Rick and I went into a BIG studio and recorded it. I sang it only once, and have never sung it since in the studio. Some vocals are magic and simply not able to beat. So I let go of it, as new to me as it was; but you know, now when I hear it on the radio, this incredible feeling comes over me, like something really incredible is about to happen.”

Listen to the Stevie Nicks and Rick Nowels collaboration, ‘I Can’t Wait’, below.