Stevie Nicks on Twirling, Kicking Drugs and a Lifetime With Lindsey
You can’t keep a gold dust woman down — and Stevie Nicks is one busy gypsy these days. In the past few years, she’s made two of her best solo albums, toured the world with Fleetwood Mac and sung for the witches of American Horror Story. Her excellent new 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault has songs she’s written over the years but never recorded before, reaching back to 1969. This fall she hits the road again with the Mac — this time with the long-lost Christine McVie back in the fold. “The five original cast members,” Nicks says proudly. “Of all the elite bands of the Seventies, we’re the only one touring with the same lineup we had in 1975.”
The rock goddess took a break from band rehearsals for a late-night chat, calling from her house by the ocean, gazing out onto the waves in Santa Monica while discussing music, memories, drugs, hats, ponchos, band politics, her “Crackhead Dance” and the essence of twirling.
What’s it like playing with the whole Mac again?
We’re starting from scratch. The Christine songs are brand new to us after 16 years, and God bless her, she has to learn them all over again. She came up with that part in “Silver Springs.” [Stevie sings piano solo] She hasn’t played those songs in 16 years. And I am here to tell you that none of us just sit around listening to Fleetwood Mac records. We’re always moving forward, so once we finish something, we’re on to the next thing. It’s not like we have record parties and listen to our old stuff.
So you’re back on the road with Fleetwood Mac — a week before you release your solo album.
I’m running two careers at the same time. But I don’t walk into band rehearsals and expound upon the record I just made, because I am a smart woman. I’m not pushing it down their throats — I’m not trying to cause any trouble here. Nobody from Fleetwood Mac has heard this record yet. When the time comes to hear it, they’ll like it. Lindsey will love it — half of these songs are about him!
Lindsey actually likes that?
Well, of course! We write about each other, we have continually written about each other, and we’ll probably keep writing about each other until we’re dead. That’s what we have always been to each other. Together, we have been through great success, great misunderstandings, a great musical connection. He has more appreciation for that now — I think it’s because he has two little daughters and a lovely wife, so he’s really in Girl World now. That’s gotta soften him up a little bit. He’s more aware of a feminine point of view.
How did you record these songs so fast?
Fleetwood Mac took a three-month break, and I thought, “I don’t wanna just sit around. But I don’t have time to make a record. Or do I?” So I called Dave Stewart and we went to Nashville. We cut all the tracks in three weeks.
We should all have your energy level.
And without drugs! [Laughs] If somebody had told me back then, “You don’t really need to do barrels full of cocaine — you have the energy. You were born with it. You never need drugs to do your work.” But we got thrown into a bad time in the world when everybody said cocaine was inspirational and safe and non-addictive. And everybody was having fun, until they weren’t. It sort of backfired.
When you did “Stand Back” on the last tour, I counted 18 twirls during the guitar solo. Are you ever tempted to just stand there and take it easy onstage?
Well, I’m very practiced at twirling. I would be so bored if I was up there just standing. I took a lot of ballet — I always wanted to work the dancing in. The reason I wear the ponchos and the big shawl-y chiffon things is because I realized from a very young age, if you were 5 foot 1, and you wanted to make big moves and be seen from a long way away, if you weren’t twirling a baton of fire, you needed something that was gonna make you show up. Like a Las Vegas showgirl, really. You need big moves. If you’re gonna dance, you gotta really dance.
I do this long dance during “Gold Dust Woman” — we call it the Crackhead Dance. It’s me being some of the drug addicts I knew, and probably being myself too — just being that girl lost on the streets, freaked out with no idea how to find her way. Years ago Lindsay would have said, “You can not do the Crackhead Dance onstage. Lose that.” But now he likes it, because it gives him a chance to jam and play guitar. When Christine saw it, she said, “Wow, we’ve always known that ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was about the serious drug days, but this really depicts how frightening it was for all of us and what we were willing to do for it.’ We were dancing on the edge for years.