The reason Nicks is terrified of being sick again is standing outside a rehearsal space on the Warner Bros. lot in Culver City. Lindsey Buckingham is there, has been there for hours, and she has no idea how he’ll react to her tardiness. He spots her, scowls, and taps his wrist. Everyone takes a nervous breath. Then he smiles, and everyone laughs. Breathe out.
“We’re getting along,” Nicks tells me, tentatively. “It’s been a long, long, long, long, long, long time. Like, decades. We haven’t gotten along like this since I can remember, since maybe before we joined Fleetwood Mac, when it was just the two of us. And it really is really lovely.”
On tour, Buckingham is the band’s musical director, and Nicks is happy to let him worry about lighting cues, videos, and which songs they play and when: “I just get to stand there and sing, which is easier than what he does,” she says. This time around, the boys are trying to be sensitive to Nicks’s vulnerable position as the band’s sole female since Christine McVie left in 1998 after suffering panic attacks and developing a fear of flying. “It’s not near as fun” without her buddy there, Nicks tells me. “Because it was girl power, you know?” “She’s our queen bee,” Fleetwood says of Nicks, “and she needs protecting.”
At rehearsal, Nicks and Buckingham’s banter lit up with hard-won playfulness as they tried to work out their positioning on the stage. After “Landslide”—which Stevie wrote about Lindsey, just before joining Fleetwood Mac, as she contemplated leaving music behind entirely when their duo, Buckingham Nicks, was dropped from its label—Lindsey remarked: “I feel weird standing behind her. I don’t want to stand too close.” Stevie fired back, teasingly: “I don’t know. I have stood next to you playing guitar for how many years?”
To perform “Gypsy,” Nicks suggested, “I’m just going to basically stand sideways because I know you can’t turn.”
Buckingham: You’re stalking me.
Nicks: I’m stalking you on this one.
Buckingham: All I can do is angle toward you. I gotta look at the neck.
Nicks: Just remember to look over at me every once in a while so I don’t look like an idiot.
Buckingham: I just need to eye the neck of the guitar and then look over at your neck. Go from neck to neck.
Nicks: My wrinkly neck.
Buckingham: Oh, stop it.
The set includes, at Nicks’s suggestion, a long-lost Buckingham Nicks demo, “Without You,” that she wrote about being hopelessly in love with Lindsey and considers the best poetry she’s ever written about him. And it ends with “Say Goodbye,” which Buckingham wrote just ten years ago, 27 years after their breakup, having married and had children, about trying to move on: “That was so long ago, yeah / Still I often think of you.”
“They’re still sending messages to each other,” says Fleetwood. “They are absolutely on a journey, and they have absolutely not given up. And it’s nothing to do with being in love. It’s to do with love itself and the premise of a huge underlying respect from whence they have come and from whence they started their journey together. And I think they truly advocate that: ‘We can end our days saying, We didn’t run away from this.’