Stevie - Billboard (09.26.2014)

24 Karat Gold is an unusual idea: You recorded songs you’d written years ago but never released. Were you able to figure out in what year you wrote each song?

I don’t know the exact dates. I’m pretty sure “Cathouse Blues” was written in 1969, before Lindsey and I moved to L.A. And I think “Lady” was written at the end of 1971 or beginning of 1972, when Lindsey and I got our first piano. I think it was the first song I ever wrote on a piano.

“Cathouse Blues” is the oldest song on 24 Karat Gold, and it’s a very unusual style for you, almost ragtime.

It is unusual. I think I wrote it in 1969, maybe ’68. It’s about some cartoon cats. They’re hanging out on a fence and — I don’t want to say hooker cats, because they weren’t that, but they were definitely street cats. When it says “blue-gray eyes,” I think that must have been about Lindsey, because he has blue-gray eyes.

At 15 and a half, I fell in love with a really handsome boy in Arcadia High School in Los Angeles. Thank God for that, because even though my relationship with Lindsey didn’t really end well, the passionate feeling I had for this man — who I still know very well, and, in my own way, will always be crazy about– he brought out this love song.

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is, famously, an album made while both couples in the band were breaking up. But you and Lindsey were already having problems when you joined the band in 1974. So I wonder if the previous album, Fleetwood Mac, is also a breakup album.

We were breaking up when Fleetwood Mac asked us to join. We moved down from San Francisco to L.A. in 1972, and made Buckingham Nicks in 1973, and were having problems all through that. When we moved, it was lonely. I didn’t have any girlfriends. And I was the one who worked. I had to be a waitress, and a cleaning lady, in order to support us — because Lindsey didn’t want to play four sets at Chuck’s Steakhouse, where we could’ve made $500 a week. To him, that was selling out. He wanted to play original music, so I went along with that.

When we joined Fleetwood Mac, I said, “OK, this is what we’ve been working for since 1968. And so Lindsey, you and I have to sew this relationship back up. We have too much to lose here. We need to put our problems behind us. Maybe we’re not going to have any more problems, because we’re finally going to have some money. And I won’t have to be a waitress.”

I made Lindsey listen to all the Fleetwood Mac records. And I said, “I think we can do something for this band. We’ll do it for a year, save some money and if we don’t like it, we’ll quit.” And he’s like, “But Buckingham Nicks, I still think the record’s going to start to break out.” I said, “You wait around. I’m sick of being a waitress. We are joining Fleetwood Mac and we’re going to be great.”

I got an apartment on Hollywood Boulevard, he moved back in with me, and we kind of put our relationship back together. We weren’t fighting about money, we had a really nice place, and we were going to work with these hysterically funny English people every day, making great music.

Christine was like my mentor, and the only person who could buffer Lindsey. She could totally soothe him and calm him down, and that was great, because I wasn’t good at that. We were sailing along on the highest wave. It was OK for a while, until it wasn’t. At the end of 1976, that’s when it just blew up.

So do you hear premonitions of that breakup in the Fleetwood Mac songs?

Absolutely. Some of those songs came from two years before, when we broke up. People didn’t examine that record as much, because to the public, it looked great — two couples in a band. And by the way, Christine and John weren’t doing so great either during that album.