New York Daily News
May 6, 2001
Lacing Up Again
Stevie Nicks, solitary romantic, has a new album
By JIM FARBER
You've gotta hand it to Stevie Nicks. She's 53 years old. She has never been married. She has lived alone for most of her adult life. Yet she's still holding out hope of finding Mr. Right.
"I live in the world of romantic possibilities," the star declares. "My soul mate could be right around the next corner. He is out there. My mother promised me that."
That she continues to believe her mom shows how deep Nicks' devotion to dreams runs, in case that wasn't already obvious from her writing. Yet on the frilly icon's new album, "Trouble in Shangri-La" her first solo work in seven years Nicks deals with some of the consequences of living in dreams. In middle age, she faces the risks of sustaining her role as an unapologetic romantic, as rock's fairy-tale Rapunzel.
"If I had my life to live over/I would never dream/I will live alone/Yes, I will live alone," Nicks sings bitterly in "Planets of the Universe."
That lyric, as the singer explains, was actually written back in 1976, when she was breaking up with fellow Fleetwood Mac member Lindsey Buckingham. "That was a huge statement for me to make, a very harsh thing for me to say," Nicks explains. "It was just for six months [that I felt that]. I was depressed about love. The song was written when we were recording 'Rumours' in San Francisco. I was tired of the city and very, very angry at Lindsey. How strange and funny, though, that I have lived alone all that time since."
Maybe it's not so strange after all. Consider the evidence of several songs on the new album: In "Love Changes," Nicks cuts a man loose as soon as her passion wanes. In "Too Far from Texas," she carries on an affair with an unavailable married man. In "Candlebright," she talks about being a nomad who can't be pinned down by love. "I don't like staying in one place long," Nicks says with a laugh. "It's the way I'm happy. I live in two houses, in L.A. and Phoenix. When I get tired of one, I move on."
She says she has no regrets about not putting down roots with children. "There are lots of children in my life," she elaborates. "I have a niece who's 10. Lindsey has two kids amazingly enough. All my rock-star friends have babies. I don't feel like the world is going to curl up and die if I don't have a child."
Especially since Nicks' songs are, in some ways, her children. She is always writing, turning her journal entries into lyrics. The writing for the new album is some of her most clear-minded to date, and that's no accident. According to Nicks, the songs were written either before or after her long addiction to the prescription drug Klonopin. "When you're on that drug, you don't want to do anything," Nicks says.
The clarity of her lyrics is also reflected in Nicks' choice to write in the first person rather than the third, her old preference. "It's riskier [to use the first person]," she says. "Then you're saying, 'This really is me.' "
Not only is she asserting more control over her life, she has taken fresh pride in her legacy to younger female artists. Many contemporary female rock stars (including Sheryl Crow, who produced five of the new album's tracks) have saluted Nicks as the first woman to find a feminine way to rock. "I wanted to make that point at the beginning with my chiffon ballet skirt," Nicks explains. She modified the look with "heavy platform boots, to give the whole fairy-princess outfit a foundation."
She considers her balletic outfit "a uniform. It's very theatrical. For me to be without it would be like Gypsy Rose Lee without her boa."
But, in a way, that image keeps Nicks infantilized. In her style and lyrics, she continues to indulge the storybook imagery of a very young girl. On the "Shangri-La" cover, Nicks appears in flowing lace in a castle archway looking out over the Pacific Ocean. While the photographer took many shots with her feet planted firmly on the ground, she explains, Nicks rejected them in favor of one where her toes don't touch the ground. Coupled with her reluctance to get into a relationship, this raises the old shrink questions: Is Nicks afraid of reality and/or intimacy?
The singer laughs. "I don't see a shrink. It was a shrink who gave me Klonopin. I can go screw up my life without anyone's help."
In fact, she says, she likes her life just as it is, thank you very much. And while she'd like to have a life partner, she thinks that might not be practical: "I'm a free spirit. I don't want a boss asking me when I'm going to be home. Most men think the way I live my life is crazy."
In fact, only by avoiding deeper relationships, Nicks asserts, have her "dreams not been bashed. I haven't had a terrible marriage. I don't have children who are on drugs and who are refusing to call me. Because of that, I can go back to that childhood innocence we all have. Then I can make up these little romantic worlds for people to come into and hang out. That's why I make my records, to take people away from their lives for a while."
And maybe to perform that same function for herself, as well.