Stevie Nicks on Twirling, Kicking Drugs and a Lifetime With Lindsey
“Mabel Normand” on the new album has a sad story. Why did you relate to her?
Mabel Normand was a movie star from the 1920s. A beautiful girl who had it all at her fingertips, until she got into the drug world. She was a really bad cocaine addict — and this is the Twenties. I watched a documentary about her in 1985, my worst time, six or seven months before I went into Betty Ford. She was like me: If I bought coke for me, I also bought it for 500 of my closest friends. And if you’re buying drugs for you and all your friends, and you’re the only one who has money, and then somebody’s trying to get you off drugs, the seedy side of the drug-dealer world isn’t happy about that.
“Forty-seven days in rehab to get off Klonopin was way more horrific than 30 days to get off coke.”
Did you ever think Christine McVie would come back?
Never. We reformed with The Dance in 1997, but that only lasted a year before Christine flipped out and said, “I just can’t do this any more — I’m having panic attacks.” She sold her house and car and piano and moved back to England, never really to be heard from again. Then last year she called me and said, “This is crazy — I don’t need to sit out here in this castle 40 miles outside London watching gardening shows. I’m ready to come back to the world.” So I said, “Chris, it’s your band and we’d love to have you back. So meet up with us in Dublin and see the rock monster we’ve become. And get a trainer.”
One of the great moments in the Mac live show is when the roadie brings out your top hat for the encore. Does the hat have its own roadie?
Absolutely, because that’s the one. It’s a very special top hat — it’s from the 1920s, that one, and you can’t find another one like it. So the hat has its own roadie, its own box and its own cage — it’s always protected.
People really lose it when you sing “I’m getting older too” in “Landslide.” Yet you were so young when you wrote that song.
I was only 27 — I wrote that in 1973, a year before I joined Fleetwood Mac. You can feel really old at 27.
My favorite song of yours is “Ooh My Love,” from 1989. People always forget that one.
That’s one of my favorites too. In fact, The Other Side of the Mirror is probably my favorite album. Those songs were written right before the Klonopin kicked in. “In the shadow of the castle walls” — that song was very important to me. I was lucky those songs were written when they were, before that nasty tranquilizer. It was a really intense record. People don’t talk about that record much, but it was different from all the others. It was a moment in time. I had gotten away from the cocaine in 1986. I spent a year writing those songs. I was drug-free and I was happy.
Then the Klonopin really kicked in. To go from The Other Side of the Mirror to Street Angel…that was difficult. I was a wreck and the album was a wreck. They’re called “tranquilizers” for a reason. You stop being so committed. This doctor had me on it for eight years. Forty-seven days in rehab to get off Klonopin was way more horrific than 30 days to get off coke. The word “tranquilizer” should scare people to death. Xanax should scare people to death. My godson died three years ago at a frat party — Xanax and alcohol, goodbye.
This doctor was a groupie — he just wanted to hear me tell stories about rock & roll. So he kept upping my dose for years. Finally I said, “I’m taking enough Klonopin every day to sink a boat. That’s why I gained all this weight, and that’s why my writing is terrible, and that’s why The Other Side of the Mirror was the last good record I made. This was all your idea.”
How do you get past that anger?
That doctor — he’s the only person in my life I can honestly say I will never forgive. All those years I lost — I could have maybe met somebody or had a baby or done a few more Fleetwood Mac albums or Stevie Nicks albums. So I’ll never forgive him. If I saw him on the street and I was driving — well, I don’t have a drivers license and it’s good, because I would just run him down.
You’ve been on such a creative roll lately. How does it feel to revisit these old songs?
It’s always intense to look back, but it’s always good to remember who you were and what it was like then. It makes me remember how beautiful and frightening it all was. So many of these songs are about me and Lindsey moving to L.A. in 1971, asking each other, “Now what? Should we go back to San Francisco? Should we quit?” We were scared kids in this big huge flat city where we had no friends and no money. But we didn’t quit.
“I’m very practiced at twirling. If you’re gonna dance, you gotta really dance.”
I believe Lindsey and I would have made it if we’d stayed in San Francisco. He does too. If we never joined Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham Nicks would have taken off. We would have stayed together, gotten married, had a kid — and then we probably would have gotten divorced, because it would have been too hard. There’s this whole other way it could have gone.
But all those little songs, all that pain I went through — it got me here. I look around me now — I’m in my little house right now, looking out at the beautiful ocean, picturing my dad leaning against the wall over there like a ghost, saying, “Do you realize what a lucky girl you are?” I’m lucky that my favorite evening is still going to a grand piano in a beautiful room with incense and candles and sitting down to write a song for the world.
There are so many young new rock artists who are obviously hardcore fans of yours — Sharon Van Etten and White Lung and Sky Ferreira.
It’s sweet how that happens. It’s crazy to think about all these people listening who weren’t born back then. We put “Seven Wonders” back in the set because of American Horror Story. Our monitor guy said, “I’m not familiar with that song.” I said, “Because it came out when you were two.”
You’re like David Bowie that way — every generation discovers you.
Well, I’m a big fan of David Bowie. Especially his movie The Hunger, with Susan Sarandon and Catherine Denueve. Just creepy and strange and amazingly beautiful. I’m always surprised Bowie didn’t make more vampire movies.
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