Still following her ‘Dreams’
Stevie Nicks tours behind new album that takes her in many different directions
Stevie Nicks will twirl her way to the stage of the
Produced and partially co-written by erstwhile Eurythmic Dave Stewart - with help from Glen Ballard - at a studio in Nicks’s Los Angeles home, the album finds the Fleetwood Mac chanteuse covering a lot of ground. She spreads her patented brand of mystical glitter on everything from the emotional ode to our troops “Soldier’s Angel,’’ featuring Mac compatriot Lindsey Buckingham on guitar and vocals, to the expansive rocker “Wide Sargasso Sea.’’
We chatted with Nicks recently on the phone from LA.
Q. Your tour earlier this year with Rod Stewart seemed like fun.
A. It was really fun! He’s very charming and witty and English. I get along with the English very well because of my English Fleetwood Mac friends.
Q. It was so gentlemanly that he came out and introduced you.
A. I know! (Laughs.) And he said such nice things about me.
Q. Speaking of English gentlemen, you worked with one on the new album, Dave Stewart. Considering how much recording you’ve done, it’s interesting that you’ve said this is the best experience you’ve ever had.
A. This was the best; it was the most fun.
Q. And it was down to him?
A. It was down to him. Because, first of all, we wrote seven songs together, which is one of the reasons why this record is diversified. The couple of times I’d ever tried to write with somebody in the room, it came down to me feeling like I was hurting their feelings. So with Dave, I sent him 40 pages of poetry. And he actually read that poetry, which, right there, made me a huger fan than I was! And he just pulled out one of the poems and said, “I like this poem, let’s do this one.’’ I just started sing-song-ing away, and at the end of 15 minutes we had “You May Be the One’’ - written, full on, done. I was like, OK, epiphany; I understand why John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote together. Because if you find somebody that is really fun to write with, it’s a whole other ballgame. And if you find somebody that does not have an ego, it’s a whole other ballgame. Because I couldn’t hurt Dave’s feelings if I tried. He’s just not hurtable. He’s just like, “You don’t like it? OK, fine. Let’s go to another chord.’’
Q. The album has a lot of different vibes on it, perhaps the most branching out you’ve done on one record.
A. My knowledge of the music part of it is not that huge. It’s like my musical director Waddy [Wachtel] says, “If you really listen to her songs, she really just writes one long song.’’ It’s true, I do. The fact is that having somebody like Dave come in and give me thousands of chords to work with . . . I was able to do stuff vocally that I’ve never been able to do before.
Q. “Soldier’s Angel’’ grew out of your visits with wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. How did that start?
A. I was on tour with Fleetwood Mac at the end of 2005, and I got an invitation to Walter Reed. I went having no idea that it was going to become such a part of my life. As I was driving away, I thought, “I have to do something.’’ And I immediately started thinking about putting some music on some iPods, something that would be a rehabilitative tool for them and also joyous. That became my little mission. So every time we go, if we’re seeing 40 soldiers, we go there with 40 iPods.
Q. You appeared on “The Voice’’ with winner Javier Colon, and in recent years you’ve also performed with Taylor Swift at the Grammys and had your songs covered by contestants on “American Idol’’ and groups as different as Scars on 45 and Little Big Town. How does it feel when you hear younger artists performing your songs?
A. I’m pretty thrilled as a songwriter. Because really as a writer that’s all you want, you just want your music to get to people. It’s like the Dixie Chicks doing “Landslide.’’ First of all, I became best friends with [lead singer] Natalie [Maines] over that and that is worth more than anything. And I’m sure that I’ll be friends with Adam [Levine, “The Voice’’ judge and Maroon 5 frontman] and Javier now forever because of that one day. So it’s like your songs really bring you together with people. You eventually meet them and talk about it and it’s the greatest thing that somebody could do for a songwriter.
Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.