But when Nicks had managed to finish only two songs for the album that would eventually be Trouble in Shangri-la, the Fleetwood Mac monster reared its head again. Perhaps surprisingly, Nicks was happy to rejoin the band for a late-1990s reunion. "I love my band," she says. "I don't mind that it takes over my life. I prefer being one of five, because then the pressure's off."

Nicks used the time well, returning to her hotel after gigs to work on her lyrics. Six of the songs from Shangri-la were written on the road. Among them were Love Changes and Fall From Grace, both of which, Nicks says, are "pretty much about" the band itself. Love Changes hints at Nicks's role in the band's rows.

"I always say what you want to hear," she sings. "When there is a conflict I stay clear."

Elsewhere in the song, she sings the fatalistic line: "Everything happens for a reason."

"If you take out all the bad stuff in the band, the songs wouldn't happen," she explains. "The thing is, you have to have trouble in Shangri-la."

In Fall From Grace, she draws inspiration from nursery rhymes to sing what sounds like a last goodbye to the band: "Not all the king's horses and all the king's men could put it back together." But the king's men appear to have surpassed her expectations, because Nicks now says that she's certain the band will reunite soon, not only for a tour, but also for a new record. "I know that it will happen," she says. "When I really want something, I usually find a way to make it happen."

The way to make it happen, in this case, is to accept that Christine McVie, who has returned to her native England, has finally quit the band for good.

"Christine doesn't want to do it," says Nicks. "She has a life there. She loves her life. She doesn't want to leave. That's okay, we love her. Now we just have to go on without Chris. That'll push us back to a more guitar-oriented sound, a bit bluesier. Of course, we'll get a keyboard- player in, but they won't be Chris. So that'll send the band back to being a power trio."

There are even signs that the tension between Nicks and Buckingham is finally easing.

"Lindsey heard Trouble in Shangri-la, and he said, 'I think it's the best thing you've ever done,'" says Nicks. "That's about the nicest thing he's ever said to me. You know, he's never really acknowledged my solo career. I think maybe he respects me a little more now - maybe he's finally proud of me."

In turn, Nicks seems happy to laugh, rather than gripe, about the "jillions of dollars that we haven't made" because of Buckingham's walkouts. It may be that Buckingham is no longer so important a figure in her life. It may even be that he has been replaced by Sheryl Crow, who has produced several tracks on Shangri-la, which also features appearances by Macy Gray and the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines.

"I feel like I've found all my lost daughters," jokes Nicks. "Sheryl and I did a showcase together recently, and we were singing like Don and Phil Everly - we were Donna and Philomena. That's how I sing with Lindsey. I've been looking for someone else like that for a long time."

Comment