JL: Um, before we get onto ‘Annabel Lee’, let me ask you: how are your buddies in Fleetwood Mac doing?
SN: They’re good. Um, Lindsey’s, uh, finished a record that is, I think, amazing. Um, I think it’s the best thing that he’s ever done, and it’s so interesting because last, like, November when he came up to work on ‘Soldier’s Angel’, um, which was the last thing that we really did, um, we played him my record and he played the Dave and Stevie world - and Glen Ballard - his record. So we listened to both records in a row and at the end, um, Lindsey was sitting on one side of me, I was sitting in the middle, and Glen was here, and Dave was walking around with a guitar around his neck like, it’s what he does. And Glen just jumped up and said, “Oh my god! You guys are on fire! You have both made an amazing record in the same year.” And I’m like so, and of course I’m going like, ‘Please God, let me love this record.’ Because I’m sitting here next to Lindsey; he knows me so well. If I don’t love this record, I’m gonna go like, “Well, I…” You know, so, and I swear to god, I think that Lindsey like swallowed some melody pills and some lyrical pills, because all of a sudden, along with his, you know, amazing, bombastic guitar that he plays, are these really beautiful words and beautiful melodies. I’m so very proud of him. So the Fleetwood Mac gang is fine. John’s in Honolulu, Mick’s in Maui, Lindsey’s here getting ready to release his record and working on it, you know. And so, you know, it’s good. I mean, for the first time, I’m not keeping them waiting.
SN: Lindsey’s working. Lindsey’s record hasn’t even come out yet. Mine at least came out in May. So it’s like he’s busy, I’m not waiting on him, he’s not waiting on me, and it’s like, but the boys, the other boys, John and Mick, they know that we’re doing our thing and when we’ve, when we’re done doing our thing then we, you know, then we go back to Fleetwood Mac. And that’s just the way it has always been and will always be.
SN: And, um, I went to my journal and wrote a six page rant, of which nobody will ever see, and out of that six pages came the chorus, which says: “I am a soldier’s angel four years later / In a war of words between worlds / About what is wrong and about what is righteous / I am a soldier’s girl.” And, uh, “I am a soldier’s girl” means ‘I support them in whatever they do. I don’t have an opinion. I’m a soldier’s nurse. I am somebody who tries to bring comfort and fun and stories and music to them. I am not here to judge this war or what they do and, uh, I’m just there to hold their hand and make them laugh, hopefully.’ It is my most sacred and my most revered song I have ever written. And I have to say my dear, sweet friend Lindsey saved the day on this one because Dave and I tried to beat the demo for almost nine months and we couldn’t do it, and I finally said to him, “Dave, we have to call Lindsey,” and he said, “Then let’s call Lindsey.” And we did and Lindsey came. A week later I sent him the demo and he studied it and he came and we went into the entryway in that magic golden circle under the stairway and we recorded it live. And he came back the next day and put a little bit of guitar on top of it and put a harmony on the choruses, and he came into the world of Dave and Stevie and realized what a special world it was. And when he walked out I had my most sacred song. And I said to him, “Lindsey, this is as close to Buckingham Nicks as we have been since 1973 and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making it possible that this song will be able to go out to the soldiers now. Because this is their song, and it’s just you and me doing it and it’s so special.”
SN: So, um, I’m going [to Sturgis] and I’m taking Waddy and Carlos and the girls, and we’re going to do ‘Soldier’s Angel’. We wanted Lindsey but Lindsey is totally busy with his record and couldn’t get out, had a prior commitment that he couldn’t get out of. So, um, and Waddy can fill in for him so it will be terrific, and we’re going to do it onstage for probably somewhere between fifty and eighty thousand people. And it’ll be, it’ll be stunning because it’ll be just me and Waddy and those people, you know. And, uh, I really, I’m really looking forward to it.
SN: So what happened with Dave and I in January, before we actually started the record in February, was he - I called him and said, “You wanna produce this record?” And he said, “Well, I’m totally interested in that,” he says, “and I just happen to have a track that has a chorus on it just like ‘Don’t Come Round Here No More’ did.” Cos that was originally meant for me, that song; he wrote that for me and then it became Tom’s and that’s a whole other story. That’s like Narnia. Um, He says, “So, I’m going to send it to you,” and I’m going, “Great, send it to me.” So he sends me this really beautiful track that’s basically what you hear on the record, um, and it’s just got the chorus: “Everybody loves you / But you’re so alone / No one really knows you / I’m the only one.” And that’s the chorus. So then, it’s not like he just said, “Write a song to an instrumental,” because then I would probably have written a completely different song. But I had to build a song around that chorus, so I’m looking at that very much as a person in a duo.
And Dave’s been in a duo with Annie Lennox and I’ve been in a duo with Lindsey Buckingham, so we really have that in common. Like I was telling you before we started this, that’s a different breed of cat, being in a duo. Um, you think you know your duo partner better than anybody else, and you’re never going to believe that anybody knows them better than you. So when I heard that I went, “Okay, so now I know what to write about.” So I went through all my poetry that I had sent Dave also and I started pulling out these words that were mainly about Lindsey, and, um, I wrote the verses and I wrote the bridge in the middle. And I sent it back to him - we emailed it back to him - and he called and he said, “Well, I love it.” So I said, “Well, fantastic.” And then right after the Grammys he came up and we started. Um, so this song was just like the beginning of everything.
JL: And did you write all the lyrics on this or did you -
SN: Everything except the “Everybody loves you / But you’re so alone.”
JL: Is there any reference - again, I have a tendency to read too much into things sometimes - Is there any references to other songs in here?
SN: There may well be because I - Without the words in front of me, I can’t really tell ya but, you know, a lot of my poetry - I’ll use one verse. In the last twenty years, I’ll use a verse, and then I’ll use two lines of that again in some other song down the line.
SN: So it’s very possible that there are things that come in and out, yes.
JL: Right. Okay, and so this was basically inspired by Lindsey and your kind of a conversation to him.
SN: Well, inspired by Dave, who was probably inspired by Annie, so that inspired me to be inspired then by Lindsey, yes.
JL: I see. So the duo.
SN: So it’s the four of us.
JL: It is a good line. Explain that to me, from someone who is in your position of being very famous.
SN: Well, okay, the good thing about me being famous is that before I was famous, I was actually - I was almost 28 when I joined Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey was one year younger. Um, we lived together as really as a married couple for five years, and we struggled. And we built a life and we lived a kinda normal life. We did our music all night and I was a waitress all day, but we had bills to pay and we had no money. And so we actually, we knew who we were when we joined Fleetwood Mac, and we knew that we would actually be okay if we just ended up being normal people. Because we had to really fight to stay alive in this business until we actually joined Fleetwood Mac, and so I was always really glad about that, because when people would say to me, “Well, what if this doesn’t work?” I would say, “I’ll just get another job.” And I say that today. “I’ll just get another job. I’ll go on the radio, I’ll, uh, you know, I’ll be an artist, I’ll draw pictures, I’ll do all the things that I’m not doing right now.” Um, so I look at fame as, it wasn’t terrible for me. Um, I never look at it as taking away my freedom. I think that fame for some people really is horrible. I have to say, I mean, being a rock’n’roll star is great.
SN: So I went back and I watched it a second time, and I went up to my room after it was over and I wrote an essay: on fairytales, and clandestine lovers, and beauty and the beast, and who is the beauty and who the beast?, and it was five pages and, uh, it was kind of like something you’d write when you’re in college, you know. It was kind of covering all the bases of basic fairytales. I then started thinking of this song that I’d written in 197-, probably 1977, that Lori and Sharon and I have sung - and can sing to this day the whole thing at the piano - but we just never recorded it. But it went out on a bunch of bootleg things. So my fans have heard it.
Um, and it was called ‘Lady From The Mountains’ and it’s like, “Some call her strange lady from the mountain / Others say she’s not really real / Like a candle burns bright and wants to burn faster / Well, maybe then at least she really feels.” This was about me. But I’m watching this movie about this girl named Bella and she’s up in the mountains of Oregon or Washington or somewhere, and it’s the sea and it’s the crashing ocean and it’s this crazy story. And I’m thinking, ‘Gosh, this could be about her as well as it’s about me’, and then the next verse to this song is, uh, “He loves her but he loves his life alone as well / But does he know the road or the reasons why / If he leaves her / He’ll be losing the chance to stay alive / The candle burns bright then the candle dies.” I’m going, ‘This was written about Lindsey. However this could so totally have been written about Edward, the vampire.’ And so I’m struck by this and I write this essay, and there’s a part of it that I’m writing about Bella and it says “She’s lonely, she’s lost, she’s disconnected, she finds no comfort in her surroundings. Beautiful, insecure, she’s like misdirected, she goes form situation to situation like a ghost.” And all of a sudden these three verses start to go together. And I’m thinking, ‘This is like making this ancient tale right here in front of me’.
The next day we play Melbourne and then we go on to Brisbane, and there’s a piano in the hotel in my room. I go to the piano and I sit down and I start thinking about Lindsey and I in so many ways, and I start thinking about how Bella is in love with a vampire, who is a noble and great man just like the Beast in ‘Beauty & the Beast’ was a noble and great beast. But he was still a monster and Edward is still a monster. And, but that doesn’t make the love any less deep even though it’s impossible. So I start to write this chorus and it says, “Strange, she runs with the ones she can’t keep up with.” She runs with the vampires. Um, and I run with the rockstars. “Strange, he slows down, he’s so desperate to stop her.” Because he doesn’t want her to hurt. He doesn’t want her to be hurt. Um, “Strange, they both run from the one who hunts them.” Who is the crazy vampire that’s after both of them. And, uh, they both drop to the forest floor, frozen. And I sit at the piano and I play this song all the way through and I ask Karen, “Get me the camera. And put it on video, because we need to record this.”
SN: And, uh, it’s very hard. I mean, I don’t know - If Lindsey and I moved here today and we were 22 and tried to get a record deal, I don’t know, you know. People go like, “Well, what kind of, who are you guys? And what is music? Are you like Texas rockabilly or are you like folk or are you, what are you? Who are you?”, you know. Cos that happened then also but it would really happen now. I mean, would we make it now? We would try and we would be just as, you know, forceful as we were then, but would we actually be able to crawl to the top now? I don’t know.
JL: Plus they’d take one look at you and they’d want to put you in some sort of ridiculous costume and have you do dance steps.
SN: Well, yeah. And of course, you know, I am not to be choreographed. That’s why I’m a lead singer, because I can not do steps, you know. I’m a free dancer, you know. Um, so no, that would not work for me at all. And of course that would just infuriate Mr. Buckingham so that would never work. But it would be, we would have to have really figured out a way, you know, would we have gone on American Idol? Would we have gone on, would we have moved to England and gone on The X Factor? Would we have done whatever it took?