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Music

The Jean Cocteau film that inspired a classic Stevie Nicks song

@SamWKemp

Stevie Nicks remains an enduring icon. With Fleetwood Mac, she embarked on one of the most drug-fuelled, romantically strained, and prolific careers of the 1970s. 

With the towering pop group, she helped craft albums like Rumours, Tusk, and Mystery To Me – all LPs that have explored the niches of romance in a way that few other bands have achieved. In a recent interview, Nicks sat down to cast a light on some of her most famous songs, many of which were written as a result of the various inter-band relationships that eventually led to Fleetwood Mac’s implosion. That’s not to say that Nicks wasn’t inspired from elsewhere, of course. While it’s easy to assume that her output with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist is entirely comprised of songs about backstabbings and extra-marital affairs, that would be to ignore all the other influences that are – perhaps subconsciously – threaded throughout many of her best-loved tracks.

‘Beauty And The Beast’ from Nicks’ 1983 solo album The Wild Heart is one notable example. During the interview, Nicks recalled how the film of the same name, directed by Jean Cocteau, inspired the song: “It was definitely about Mick, but it’s also based on the 1946 Jean Cocteau movie,” she began. 

Adding: “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. 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.

“Lindsey had barely survived the breakup of Lindsey and Stevie, much less would he not survive the relationship of Stevie and Mick,” Nicks continued, “So Mick told Lindsey, even though I thought it was totally the wrong thing to do, and two days later we broke up. But of course, Lindsey never forgave me for years, if ever. All the great love stories are the love that cannot be. And in the midst of that whole thing, Mick fell in love with my best friend Sara. So the moral is, Don’t go out with a gorgeous rock star who goes on the road, just don’t! Because it will never, ever work out.”

Jean Cocteau’s adaptation of the classic French fairytale acted as a lens through which Stevie Nicks could interrogate her relationship with Mick Fleetwood. The romance began two years after Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975, at which time she was still dating the Eagles member Don Henley. To make things even more complicated, Fleetwood was still married to the model Jenny Boyd. Their “great love” was – as Nicks herself later admitted – doomed from the start and, inevitably, “caused a lot of pain to everybody”. 

It is that same pain that would birth the melancholy tones of ‘Beauty and The Beast’ years later.

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