[The Nicks Fix]

Boston Globe
July 14, 1991
A Solo Stevie Nicks

Her love affair with music is the one that has lasted

by Steve Morse

The clock was approaching midnight when Stevie Nicks called from Los Angeles. She's a confirmed night owl, has been since she was a teen. It suits her workaholic lifestyle, for she's long juggled two careers -- as the mystic siren in Fleetwood Mac and the solo earth goddess whose songs have been inspired by the likes of John Lennon and Jean Cocteau, Tom Petty, Joe Walsh and Jessi Colter.

Now 43, Nicks is about to hit the road again, embarking on a tour that lands at Great Woods on Friday. The tour finds her at a crossroads where she's trying to shed her elusive gypsy image and be absolutely candid about her life.

She doesn't expect to return to Fleetwood Mac -- following a "serious argument" with leader Mick Fleetwood. [She will concentrate on her] solo career. Her muse has been good to her in both cases, but the fluid, from-a-rasp-to-a-lullaby voice that made her a major star in Fleetwood Mac has also made her by far the most successful solo act to emerge from the band.

She'll have a new "Best Of" album in September that she promises will open many eyes. Not only does it include two surprise tunes written by hardrockers Jon Bon Jovi and Bret Michaels of Poison (they both contacted her), but it contains confessional notes on each of her solo hits. The notes openly acknowledges various love affairs at the core of her romantic songs: Mick Fleetwood in "Beauty and the Beast," Don Henley in "Leather and Lace" and Joe Walsh in "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?"

"I just felt like it was time," Nicks says. "Finally after all these years, people have to understand why these songs were written and why I sometimes get so emotional on stage, why I sometimes burst into tears. It isn't because I'm a cornball, but there's a real reason. It's that I'm reliving an experience that happened to me and that I wrote about.

"I write very vaguely because I like everybody to interpret my songs in their own life. And I figure they've had 11 years to interpret them in their own life, so now it's time for them to understand what they meant to me."

The revelations are often bracing. The song "Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove)," was written after the deaths of John Lennon and her uncle, Jonathon William, whose hand she held while he died. And "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?" came after Walsh mentioned losing a young daughter, as he drove Nicks up to a snow-covered park in Colorado where the young girl loved to play.

"Considering the generation we come from, we are very lucky to be alive," says Nicks, who flirted with her own mortality by using drugs heavily. She got straight at the Betty Ford Center seven years ago. "When you have to sit down and write on a piece of paper: 'I am not special. I am dying,' that's a real serious thing to swallow. And that's one of the things you have to write down there. You finally reach a point where you say, 'I am rich. I am famous. I have everything I want and I am dying.' That's about as serious as you can get.

"My mom says that God will never give you more than you can handle, and I really try to believe this, because sometimes I think that I've been given more than I can handle. But it seems that I do have a strong instinct to survive, and I'm way too proud to let anything stop me or get in my way. And I have way too many tings left to do on this Earth to let anything stop me. I want to write a book, and I want to do my paintings and get them out to the world. And that's what I'll do in another 10 years when I decide to really stop what I'm doing right now.

"There's a lot of things I want to share -- and that's why I started a little bit with this album, by telling everybody a little bit about each song."

Right now, the music business remains her chief love -- and, she'll readily acknowledge, her chief distraction from leading a more stable personal life. One that might include, say, marriage and children, a loaded issue for a woman in her 40s.

"Sometimes this business is wonderful, truly wonderful -- you couldn't ask for more," she says "And sometimes it's really difficult because of the things that you have to give up -- like marriage and children and any kind of social life. And with me having two careers, giving up any kind of a vacation to Hawaii for two weeks or spending time with my parents -- that all has to go. But yet, when I walk across the stage at the end of 'Edge of Seventeen' and touch fingers with these people that are so special to me and that I love so much, it's a fair trade. You give up a lot, but you get an awful lot back."

Giving up group

At the moment, Nicks is also giving up Fleetwood Mac, for whom she's been a fixture since she and Lindsey Buckingham joined in 1974, back when they were lovers. The group soon recorded "Rumours," an album that sold 25 million copies worldwide. It contained the Nicks hit "Dreams" and also kicked off the Mac soap opera that persists to this day. Drummer Fleetwood blew the door open with his 1990 autobiography, "My Life and Adventures with Fleetwood Mac," revealing an affair he had with Nicks. Longtime fans knew of the romances between Nicks and Buckingham, and between keyboardist Christine McVie and bassist John McVie, but were caught off guard by Fleetwood/Nicks liaison.

"I wasn't displeased with anything Mick said about me," says Nicks. "I knew the truth would come out someday. It was a great love affair -- something I would never trade in a million years."

She's angry at Fleetwood for another reason -- and it explains why she's recently left the band. She and Christine McVie had planned to stop touring with the group ("That was Christine's decision ... either we both go or neither of us goes. ... We're like sisters"), but leave open the possibility of recording with them. But Nicks has now forsworn even that role, angered at Fleetwood for not giving back a song she wrote: It never made it onto a Mac album, and she wanted to use it on her new collection. Entitled "Silver Spring," it was to be a gift for her mother, who runs an antique shop in Phoenix, where Nicks was born.

"Mick's word is law. It always has been and always will be," says Nicks, not needing to add that Fleetwood also managed the band in the 70s and has kept it together through various personnel shifts over two decades. "I said if you don't give me back my song, then I won't write two new songs for your new record. So that's where it stands right now.... He won't talk to me about it. I have no clue as to why he made that decision. It never stops, does it? Fleetwood Mac goes on like a miniseries. It's one of those 'Gone With the Wind' things that goes on and on; and I never really know what's going to happen... I never burn bridges, but right now I don't think I'll work with them."

No wonder Bon Jovi wrote her a new song called "Sometimes It's a Bitch," alluding to the music business and the vagaries Nicks has encountered within it. "There's a line that says, 'I reach out into the darkness and come out with treasure,'" says Nicks. "That happens all the time in rock 'n' roll...But also the opposite of that can happen."

And no wonder, too, that Nicks clings faithfully to the many stage costumes that have become her signature -- the medieval capes she wears during "Stand Back" and "Beauty and the Beast," and an assortment of lace dresses and shawls. They're the most consistent elements in her life. "Over the years, they've become really superstitious things fro me...They're like special good-luck charms."

For now, Nicks is pressing on with her new album, which also includes a track, "Desert Angel," in honor of the Persian Gulf troops; and with her new tour, which features a new stage set of an English living room with high, starlit windows, burgundy velvet drapes and Persian rugs.

"I don't get a chance to sit and watch it, because I have to be up there," says Nicks. "But I think people will love it. I think they'll say, 'That's the living room I always wanted.'"

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