[The Nicks Fix]

Time Out New York - Interview
April 26 - May 3 issue (issue #292)

Sobriety test

After kicking pills and overcoming writer's block, Stevie Nicks comes clean on her new album

By Gia Kourlas

Even though Stevie Nicks has converted the ballet room in her Phoenix house into a guest bedroom, I will never cease to worship her. "Keeping a big room for nothing but ballet is kind of a waste," she explains cheerfully. "I do Pilates now. But once a ballerina, always a ballerina."

Now 52, Nicks--that white-winged-dove-loving rock poetess--has long been celebrated for her ethereal songwriting ("Rhiannon," "Sara" and "Landslide" are Fleetwood Mac classics), her flexibility (she can still do the splits on either leg) and her flowing fashion sense (the shawls, the lace, the platforms). She has a new record, and mercifully, it's no Street Angel. While that embarrassing 1994 album--Nicks's previous solo outing--was created under the haze of the tranquilizer Klonopin, the marvelous new Trouble in Shangri-La is mature, raw and drug-free. It features a jazzed-up version of "Sorcerer," which was previously available only in bootleg form, and a bevy of famous backup singers: Sheryl Crow (a close friend of Nicks's, she produced five of the 13 songs), Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks. During a phone interview from her Los Angeles home, Nicks discussed her addiction to pills, her recently revived friendship with former boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham, and her innate sense of style--which, it so happens, dates back to the fourth grade.

Time Out New York: When you started Trouble in Shangri-La, you asked Tom Petty to help you write a song. He told you to write your songs yourself--when did that happen?

Stevie Nicks: In January of 1995. I had written one song for this record, "Love Is," and I knew that it would be the last song [on the album]. But that was kind of depressing [Laughs] because I just had the last song! Basically, he said, "You know that you're a good songwriter, Stevie, and I don't know what's getting in the way right now, but you just need to go home and go straight to your piano."

TONY: What was blocking you?

Stevie: Well, I know what was blocking me. First of all, in the beginning of 1994, I went into rehab to stop taking Klonopin, which I'd been taking for almost eight years. Street Angel was done in the last two years of the Klonopin, when it had really kicked in to the point that it took away my soul and creativity. The record was finished in November; I went into rehab on the 12th of December and got out on the 27th of January. So I listened to the record--I'm off all the drugs--and I knew it was terrible. It had cost a fortune. I tried really hard to fix it, but I couldn't. So I had to go and do interviews for it, just like I'm doing right now, and it was everything I could do not to say to the interviewers, "I hate this record." When I had dinner with Tom, I was having a hard time getting over the Street Angel experience. I was just really sad. That dinner made all the difference. I give Tom all the credit in the world for this record.

TONY: Do you wish that your relationship with Lindsey Buckingham weren't so public?

Stevie: You know what? It doesn't matter to me, and it doesn't really matter to him. We're really good friends now. Lindsey has a six-month-old baby girl and a three-year-old boy. This was a big surprise for Lindsey; he never planned to marry or have children, and it has really changed and softened him. So Lindsey's happier now, and we actually talk about our relationship and about what happened to us. What I want the world to know about us is that we're okay and actually having quite a nice time. I think Lindsey and I both have realized that after all is said and done, we'll always have each other. He lives a mile and a half away from me.

TONY: Where do you keep all your feathers?

Stevie: All my feather stuff is in L.A. at a temperature-controlled stage-storage place. I keep all my good stuff there because if I had it all in my house, I wouldn't have any room for my regular clothes. It has to, like, not live here. [Laughs]

TONY: Have you ever gone out on a date with David Letterman? He seems to have a huge crush on you.

Stevie: Never. Never! [Pauses] I think David Letterman has a live-in girlfriend. He doesn't talk about her, but every once in a while--a couple of months ago, something happened at his house. On the show, he said, "And, you know, the girlfriend..." So too bad for me, huh? [Laughs] He's rich, and he has a job.

TONY: Fleetwood Mac performed at a surprise farewell party for Bill Clinton, as well as at his inauguration. Were you nervous?

Stevie: Well, you know, going to the White House is nerve-racking. It's such a big deal. You go through those gates and see SWAT teams and security people everywhere. The show itself was great. The President was totally surprised. [Proudly] And he cried during "Landslide."

TONY: Do you even own a pair of jeans?

Stevie: I do. I probably have three pairs of jeans. I don't wear them often. I think the last time was when I went out on [Mac bassist] John McVie's boat. Which was like a year ago. [Laughs]

TONY: When were you first drawn to lace?

Stevie: I became really aware of how beautiful lace could be when I joined Fleetwood Mac. We were in London and went to Antiquarius, where there are incredible antique lace pieces. I became enamored with the old English stuff. Before that, lace doilies didn't knock me out. Lace tablecloths did not do a thing for me. It was the fine little lace blouses that got me to love lace.

TONY: You don't seem to wear the top hat anymore.

Stevie: Well, amazingly enough, I've done two photo sessions in the last two weeks, and I have worn that top hat.

TONY: That's funny.

Stevie: The first time I ever wore one was in fourth grade. I wore a black top hat, a black vest and skirt, a white blouse, black tights and black tap shoes with little heels. That was my Rhiannon outfit, in the fourth grade! I did a tap dance to Buddy Holly's "Everyday" with my friend Colleen. We rehearsed for a month, and it was perfect. I feel I had a definite knowledge of how I wanted to look even then. In 1975, when I joined Fleetwood Mac, I got the first top hat in Buffalo. John and [keyboardist/vocalist] Chris [McVie] and I were looking for antiques, and we found that old English school hat. I still have it. It's tiny--it had to sit on top of all my huge hair, but I saved it.

TONY: Did you ever feel inferior in Fleetwood Mac because you didn't play an instrument?

Stevie: Never. If I had wanted to play an instrument, I could have boned up on my guitar, or I certainly could have played two-finger chords on the piano. I preferred not to be laden down with a big instrument. If you're behind a guitar, you get used to being behind a guitar, and you don't really perform because you can't. I wanted to be able to just hold on to the mike and sing.

Trouble in Shangri-La (Warner Bros.) is in stores Tuesday 1.

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