Ten years have passed since Stevie Nicks released her last solo album, but she’s still the same gay-loved goddess of earthy rock she built her legend on. The new release, In Your Dreams, is exactly how the gypsy queen left us — with that uniform sense of mystical otherworldliness that’s made Nicks a go-her-own-way virtuoso since her days with Fleetwood Mac. White horses, vampire tales and ethereal love parables all seep into this set, Nick’s first all-new studio project after reuniting with Fleetwood Mac for 2003’s Say You Will.
Nicks recently spoke with us about taking a trip to “the magical world of fairies and angels,” the dress that drag queens love, and how her own music motivated her to lose a dozen pounds.
Why did it take so long to release another solo album?
Even though I haven’t made another solo record in 10 years, I’ve been making music solidly since Trouble in Shangri-La. I came off the road from 135 shows in 2005 with Fleetwood Mac and was going to make a record, and the business people around me said, “We don’t think you should do it because the music business is in chaos” — you know, with Internet piracy, which was really hitting us in the face in 2005 — “and it’s just going to be a really emotional pull on you. We don’t think you should do it. Tour while you can, do big shows and sell a lot of tickets, that’s what you can do.” And I just was stupid enough to kind of go, “OK.”
When did you wise up?
At the end of the Fleetwood Mac tour in 2009. We were in Australia, and I wrote the “Moonlight” song (from In Your Dreams) there, and when I got done with that song — I started it in Melbourne and I finished it in Brisbane — there was a piano. I stood up and I said to my assistant, “I’m ready to make a record now.”
What was it like recording In Your Dreams?
The whole year of recording this record was like this magical mystery tour that we did at my house. We recorded the whole thing at my house and (the Eurythmics’) Dave Stewart, and his entourage were there every day, and my girls and everybody were there every day. It was just a fantastic experience. We started in February and ended in December, and when it was over I was heartbroken. I didn’t want it to ever end.
The concept of the video for the first single, “Secret Love,” is intriguing — it merges your older self with your younger self. How do you feel now versus then?
That’s why the little girl that’s in the video, Kelly, is wearing the green outfit that was my first colored outfit made in 1976, 1977 — that’s when my designer, Margi Kent, started making my clothes. But my outfits were black, and that’s one of the only colored ones she made; it’s a kind of tie-dyed green outfit. The little girl that’s playing me, she’s 15 and she’s one of my goddaughters; she, like, fits into this and we’re looking at her going, “Oh my god, we were that tiny!”
But anyway, that’s what I wanted. I wanted Kelly to be the 25-year-old Stevie, and then there’s the older Stevie. That song was written in 1975, so I wanted the spirits to blend. That’s why you see her leaving the white horse and then you see me leaving the white horse and then we’re both together, because in my dreams as a little girl that white horse was very important.
That horse was so beautiful. (While shooting the video) we looked down out of my bedroom window and saw this horse — there was a fog machine on and the actual sun was coming through all the evergreens in my backyard — and I was like, “That can’t possibly be real.” If that horse had a horn you would’ve thought, “OK, I’ve died and gone to fairyland,” because it was so, so mystical and so real in its magicalness. This horse was like Guinevere.
Let’s talk about those fairies, because you know a lot of gays adore you.
I know. I’m glad. All these visions that I see, I love when people get them. Sometimes people don’t get it, you know, and I love when people do, because I think that everybody needs to move into that magical world sometimes. A lot of people do not ever move into the magical land of fairies and angels and they just live in the hardcore miserable world that this world is right now. It’s chaotic, horrible, there’s nothing we can do … it’s such a bummer.
I can do benefits and go to Africa, but the reason I make music — the reason I’ve always made music — was to try to just make a record of songs that makes everybody, for an hour a day, feel better. We can all stay friends and we can all be in this world and we can rise above everything else for a minute. And that’s really the only reason I wanted to make music.
When did you know you were a gay icon?
When “Night of a Thousand Stevies” (a New York City-based salute to Stevie Nicks featuring impersonators) started happening 20 years ago … it was a clue. And you know, I always felt it was because I was not a fashion statement like Madonna was. I’m very different than her; she’s very chameleon-esque. That little outfit that Kelly is wearing is exactly the same as the black outfit I have on in the video. The eye makeup she has on is the makeup that I’ve been wearing since high school. I don’t change much.
Right. You stay very true to yourself, and I think a lot of gay people can admire that because we strive for that, too.
I do, and I think that brings a little bit of comfort to my audience. I still have the two girls singing with me, because I love them and they’re my dear friends. But I could’ve been changing background singers every year, and I chose to stay with Sharon (Celani) and Lori (Nicks) because the sound of the three of us is comforting to my audience. And those clothes are comforting to my audience.
Any impersonators stand out to you?
Well, I just think it’s very fun to see. When I was wearing my beautiful white Morgane Le Fay dress and my black velvet jacket, that dress just took off. I noticed how popular that dress was from the impersonators. (Laughs) I was laughing, and Morgane Le Fay was just tickled pink. So every time I’d do a little change, like in the “Secret Love” video with the long floor-length, we’re laughing … Lori and Sharon and I are laughing going, “We’re single-handedly going to bring back the Victorian ball gown.” There’s a whole new fashion statement coming out of the three or four or more videos that will come from this record, where we really stayed very Victorian.
Drag queens will be all about that, you know.
Yeah, I love it!
Glee recently dedicated an entire episode to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. How do you feel about having your work on a show that’s been so controversial regarding using other artists’ songs?
You know, I went down there when they were doing “Landslide” and I stayed there for six hours and watched them film the whole thing. I watched Gwyneth (Paltrow) and Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera) sing the song 50 times, and I had such a good time. What I was very touched by was that Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, said to me, “You know, in all the big songs that we’ve done, which is many, nobody’s ever called us or come down or even written a note thanking us for doing ‘Jessie’s Girl’ or a Journey song.” They do such great versions of all these songs; the original writers cannot fault them. They’re magnificent, every one of them. And she goes, “Nobody except you has ever come down and told us that they thought we were doing a good job.” And I thought that was so sad. Very, very disrespectful.
As someone whose music has spanned many generations, how does it feel working with a new generation of performers like the Glee cast or, for instance, Taylor Swift at the Grammys?
I love that. A lot of the songs they love are songs that I wrote when I was really young. “Landslide” was written in 1973; I was 27. I may sing it now at 62, but I was 27 when I wrote that song. It’s not like they love a song that was written by a 62-year-old woman. They love a song that was written by a 27-year-old girl.
So I’m thrilled, and I don’t write any differently now than I did when I was 27. I just go to the piano — inspired by something that happens to me — with a cup of tea, incense burning and a fire in the fireplace.
Was your muse for “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream),” which was Twilight-inspired, Taylor Lautner’s abs?
No. It’s nothing about him at all. The first and third verse were written about me and Lindsey (Buckingham, of Fleetwood Mac) in 1976; the second verse and the chorus were written about Bella and Edward. It really is an amazing blend — an ancient story blending Lindsey, Stevie, Bella and Edward, and everything in between. It’s my favorite. And by the way, I have listened to “Secret Love” and “A Vampire’s Dream” for the last two-and-a-half months and I’ve lost 12-and-a-half pounds just from treadmilling to “Secret Love” and “A Vampire’s Dream.”
No way. You treadmill to your own music?
Way! And I have never gotten tired of either of those songs. I’ve just been listening to those two songs for two-and-a-half solid months, and I am thinner than I’ve been since 1989. I really attribute it all to those two songs.