Stevie Nicks on Her Life in Isolation: ‘We Have to Believe’

Group chats with Fleetwood Mac, listening to Harry Styles and more snapshots from Nicks’ quarantine life

Stevie Nicks had always intended 2020 to be a relatively quiet year, but not quite this quiet. She’s been battling a case of Epstein-Barr virus since January, and has been safely holed up in one of her California properties with three friends and her dog Lily for weeks now. She was in good spirits in a late-night phone conversation not long ago, where she answered our quarantine questions and more. “You really do start to understand, maybe, what our parents went through in World War Two,” she says. “You start thinking of all the things that have happened that have caused people’s lives to just turn upside down.”

How are you holding up emotionally through all this?
I had planned to take this year off. We’ve been on the road one way or another, whether it was me or whether it be with Mac, since basically since 2009. I had seven months off in 2016. That’s the only vacation I had, and I worked at home doing all kinds of different stuff during that seven months. It’s been solid touring ever since. So last year I made a pitch to everybody that when this Fleetwood Mac tour is over. I’m taking next year off because I want to work on my “Rhiannon” book/movie [based on the original Welsh myth that inspired her song]. And I want to maybe work with some different producers… I don’t know what I want to do! I just know that I don’t want a tour! So I think it’s not as hard for me as it is for the bands that had a tour coming up this year. Because they’d be getting ready to go into rehearsal right now. So not only is your tour canceled and your rehearsal cancelled, but you’re quarantined to your house?

How are you spending your days?
Well, so like I said, I’m really tired from this thing. And I don’t get to sleep until six or seven every morning because I just can’t sleep anymore. So I go to sleep about seven o’clock [in the morning]. And then I have somebody come in and wake me up at two o’clock, and it takes me an hour to wake up because I haven’t had enough sleep. And then I get up and  go to the big TV room and I and I sit in there and watch the news. And I watch [the NBC medical drama] New Amsterdam, which I really love, and is very inspiring for me. I could write an entire album, just on the New Amsterdam show.

And then I have some Rhiannon poetry that I have written over the last 30 years that I’ve kept very quiet. I’m thinking, “Well here I have all this time and I have a recording setup.” And I’m thinking I’m going to start doing some recording.  I’m going to start putting some of these really beautiful poems to music, and I have the ability to record them. So that’s on   my to-do list. Me and my three roommates were laughing, going like, well, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t go to sleep until seven in the morning! Because you don’t really have to get up until five if you don’t want to. Because you’re not going anywhere.

What all we have right now, if you’re home in quarantine, is time, unless you’re taking care of kids. So, really, you could do anything you wanted that you’ve been wanting to do your whole life. So that’s how I’m trying to look at it. 

It does sound like you’re not used to having time off.
Yeah, even though I didn’t have a tour planned, my brain doesn’t know that yet. My brain is like, okay, you came off the road, and usually you would be going to rehearse. And that’s not happening. It’s still bugging me that I should be getting ready for something. And I’m not. So I’m like, well, what’s wrong with this picture? This has never happened to me ever in my life. Because the second I come off the tour with one career, the phone’s ringing off the hook from the other career saying like, “Oh, are you ready to put together a new show and do something cool?” This is the year I was going to take off and I was going to you know, talk to everybody about making my movie and do some recording and meet new people. And well, you’re not going to meet any new people. Because you can’t leave your house. So you have your dog and your three friends.

I was going to ask you what music you’ve been listening to, but I know the answer is Harry Styles’ Fine Line.
To me, it’s just like the summer of Crosby, Stills and Nash, where I listened to nothing but [their debut album] for six months. And then it’s the same way I felt when Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark came out; I listened to nothing but Court and Spark for six months. Harry is recounting a lot of experiences that I had in my own life, beautifully. And making me remember stuff, and bringing back memories that I really didn’t love and memories that I did love. For me to hear a record made by somebody in his mid-20s that says a lot of things that I haven’t gotten around to saying yet blows my mind.

What do you want to say to your fans right now?
We have to believe, right? We have to believe that this is gonna go away. We have to believe that the government of the United States is going to, at some point, completely turn around and do the right thing.  I mean, I get a stomachache every day from it.  I have a really good friend who whenever I leave, she says, “ring of angels.” And I want to say that to everybody. You have angels around you. Because everybody’s gonna have to keep themselves safe. And right now it seems to me that the government doesn’t know what they’re doing. And nobody’s on the same page. That scares me.

You have to toe the line right now. That’s what we all have to do if we want this to go away. Otherwise, it’s just gonna keep coming back. It’s just gonna reappear. And every time people say like, “Oh, it’s getting better now, now you can all go out for basketball on the beach,” it’s like, “No, you can’t.” Boom, it comes back. That’s what’s gonna happen.  I just want people to try to think straight about it.

And try to watch movies, read some books, try to get some exercise. Keep your health. Just don’t turn into an invalid. Because I think it’s very easy for people to just sit around. So you got to keep going somehow, even if you have to do cartwheels in your living room or something. 

Have you talked to your bandmates?
Yeah. We have a special name for it, which I can’t tell you, but it’s it’s a conference thing. There are messages that go to everybody.

A Fleetwood Mac group chat!
Yeah, if I write to Christine, it goes to everybody, right?  We are all keeping in touch. Mick [Fleetwood] has gone back to Maui. He loves his island, so he’s happy there.

I’m in touch with Waddy [Wachtel], too. Every couple of days, he writes to me says, “Well, this really sucks.”

I keep thinking about how some of the people we’ve lost would’ve reacted to this, like your friend Tom Petty.
Tom has a studio in his house. I think Tom would have buried himself in his studio, and he would have just written songs. And Michael [Campbell] could send him stuff back and forth over the internet. Yeah. Because he was not just Tom Petty, the singer and songwriter, but he was an engineer.

And it sounds like you’re planning on doing the same thing, making some music.
Yeah, totally. And going to journals from like 2004 and pulling out what I think is some beautiful poetry. If I never write another poem, it would be okay. Because I have that much poetry.  I have enough poetry to write a really big poetry book if I ever wanted to. As soon as I get a little bit of energy back, that’s what I’ll start doing. And everybody wants me to that’s living here: “Let’s go down and let’s start recording, let’s just go to the piano!” And I’m like, I love this word you use, “let’s” or when you say “we.”  It’s like, you’re not really the “we” and you’re not really the “let’s.” [laugh] I can’t just go to the piano, sit down and go, “song on its way!” I have to think about it a little bit, and groove into it a little bit. So that’s  what I’m trying to do.