[The Nicks Fix]

Reuters News

Wednesday April 15 6:54 PM EDT

The Rehersals

FEATURE: New Album, Tour, Reflect On Nicks' 'Enchanted' Life

By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Reuters) - She's spent the past year reunited with Fleetwood Mac -- not unhappily, either. But it's time for Stevie Nicks to go her own way again.

Oh, the door isn't closed on future Fleetwood Mac reunions.

"It'll probably be in two years, two and a half years," says Nicks, adding that she and the other group members will "fix those things" that made it difficult for singer Christine McVie to tour and subsequently declare an end to her involvement with the band.

Until that time comes, however, Nicks plans on being plenty visible. On April 28, she releases a three-volume retrospective box set, "Enchanted," which spans her solo career. She'll be on tour from late May to early August, then she plans to complete work on her first solo album since 1994.

"It's almost like I didn't ask for any of this," says Nicks, 49, who had started working on the solo album when the Fleetwood Mac reunion began to take shape.

"The whole world changed, upside down. And when I got home from the Fleetwood Mac thing, I was told Atlantic (Records) felt this was a good time to do the box set."

That's hardly surprising. Fleetwood Mac's tour in support of "The Dance," an album culled from a special concert performance for MTV, provided a reminder of just how popular Nicks is.

The loudest cheers each night were for Nicks, and her succession of hits -- "Rhiannon," "Dreams," "Gold Dust Woman," "Landslide" -- as well as her flowing gypsy-witch stage persona have long defined the band for many of its fans.

That's why it's the Phoenix-born, Calfiornia-raised Nicks who has has had the most success on her own, starting with the multimillion-selling 1981 release "Bella Donna." She's aware of this distinction, but it's also something she tries to keep at a delicate distance.

"I love the fact that I have that connection with my fans, but it's not something I let myself be terribly conscious of, because it's kind of overwhelming," explains Nicks, who joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 with her then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham after the two had recorded an album as a duo in 1973 ("Buckingham Nicks") and played together in the band Fritz. The couple's breakup was one of the factors that fueled the mega-selling 1977 Fleetwood Mac release "Rumours."

Nicks says she believes her solo success has been "fine and fairly easy for everybody in the band except Lindsey ... because we started out together. He kind of goes, like, 'When did you do all this? Why do you get this kind of reaction?"'

But since Buckingham is the lynchpin in determining whether the current lineup of Fleetwood Mac works, Nicks says she tries hard to keep her popularity from becoming an issue between them -- even if she has skewered Buckingham a bit in songs such as "Dreams" and the intense "Silver Strings."

"It's kind of like what we do together is what we talk about, and we kind of don't talk about other stuff," Nicks says. "I don't want to make Lindsey unhappy. I care about him, and I want him to be happy."

It's not like there isn't enough drama to deal with in Nicks' own story, either. Since Fleetwood Mac's rise during the mid-'70s made her one of rock's top female artists, Nicks has suffered through an assortment of interconnected demons.

Besides a succession of romantic affairs (with the Eagles' Don Henley and Joe Walsh, Mick Fleetwood and songwriter J.D. Souther), there was a brief marriage to Kim Anderson in 1983, cocaine addiction and a subsequent addiction to the tranquilizer Klonopin, complications from faulty silicone breast implants and a nearly debilitating weight problem that had her up to 175 pounds during the early '90s.

A 45-day stint of detoxification in 1993 helped Nicks clean out her system and regain her bearings.

"I came back with a real great appreciation of my life and a great appreciation that I had my music to come back to, that I still had something left," says Nicks, who now resides near her family in the Phoenix area.

"I don't think, without my music, I would survive very long. Maybe that's what made me survive all the way through it."

That made compiling the 46-track "Enchanted" "like going through a photo album," she says.

"Each one of those songs really was about something pretty heavy, for me to write a song about it," she explains. "And when you put them all together ... it's a pretty tumultuous bunch of songs. It made me take a walk back through my life and made me think about things I'd forgotten and think about experiences that were pretty strong and really touched and changed my life ...

"I think I'm really smarter than I used to be, and I don't take anything for granted."

Besides her hits ("Stand Back," "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," "Leather and Lace") and favorite album tracks, "Enchanted" dips prodigiously into Nicks' vaults for previously unreleased selections, songs from soundtrack albums (including a version of Tom Petty's "Free Falling"), collaborations with artists such as Kenny Loggins and John Stewart, and even the first-ever CD appearance of a track ("Long Distance Winner") from the Buckingham-Nicks album.

There are no Fleetwood Mac numbers, however, save for a spare piano rendition of "Rhiannon" that purposefully closes the set.

"I was so pleased, because ... this is probably going to be the most special thing on this whole record," she says. "It's the only time I'll ever play it like this, like the way I wrote it, for the world. It's really important that this song is here and that it's done by just me and that it's the last song on all three discs."

Refreshed and rededicated to her work, Nicks has chosen to concentrate on music and no longer worry about romantic entanglements or even her onetime plans to adopt a child.

"I don't really need children," says Nicks, who dotes on her 6-year-old niece. "I don't think the world is going to have too much of a problem with me not being married or having a family. I don't think that's why I came here."

Instead she's anxious to get back to work on new songs; her next album, titled "Trouble in Shangri-la," is an autobiographical concept piece about "achieving Shangri-la and not being able to handle it."

She put it aside when the Fleetwood Mac project began, and she won't pick it up again until after her latest tour, which she promises will include both Fleetwood Mac and solo songs, including material she's seldom if ever performed in concert.

"It's going to be a great set, and it's not going to be like any other set," she says. "On a regular tour, basically you just go back and get the set you did last time, change it around a little and add two new songs off of your new record.

"This tour ... is going to tell a story. Because this is the boxed set tour, it's OK for me to pick some songs that people aren't that familiar with. I won't be able to do this set again ... so this will be kind of a special show, I think."

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(Gary Graff is a nationally syndicated journalist who covers the music scene from Detroit. He also is the supervising editor of the award-winning "MusicHound" album guide series.)

Thanks to Debbi Radford for sending this article to The Nicks Fix.
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