Stevie's interview with Robin Ross (13th May 1994)
Subject: Stevie Nicks
When did it air? 13th May, 1994
ROBIN ROSS: It’s your sixth solo album, is that right?
STEVIE NICKS: It is.
RR: Right. Okay.
SN: I mean, they’re all very different, the making of each album is very different. Um, The Other Side of the Mirror was myself and Rupert Hine, and we pretty much did it ourselves, you know, and we brought in people. We recorded it at my house in Los Angeles. We brought in people and then we went to England to tie it up, you know. This one was done with a month and a half of pre-preparation at my house in Los Angeles. Which was great. Me and Andy Fairweather Low and Bernie Leadon, and then we went - And so when we went into the studio, we had like sat and played these songs on guitar and sang together, so they - So when we went into the studio, we were really a formidable little force, you know. So it was very different than the album that Rupert and I made, because there was never that, there was never a core band and there was in this one. There was an actual core band. And then as soon as went in the studio, there was the other players remained the same all the way through the recording of the basic tracks. So it started from a core membership and then added three more people, and all of those people played all of those tracks.
RR: It sounds like there’s a lot of fun on this album. I mean, listening to the songs and the way it’s all come together, and that you have taken away a lot of the production you’ve used in the past. And you seem a lot happier with this record. Your voice sounds happier. There’s a warm glow coming off this record.
SN: Well, you know, it’s funny. Everybody says that. I can’t exactly put my finger on why it seems happier, because I, you know, The Other Side of the Mirror was a very honest verbal album for me. I mean, the songs were very honest and I did definitely touch upon some kind of tragedy and pain and things that are easy to write about if you feel like telling people the truth. And I guess I felt like telling people the truth. And then backing that whole thing with all the hi-tech pianos and fairy sounds, you know, was a very - I mean, I didn’t mean for that to come across as being so solemn, but I guess it kind of did. And this one, really the songs aren’t any happier, but the approach is happier. The approach is more - Because, as I said, this was a real band, really, that started and continued into the studio and cut all, did all the basic tracks. And the vocals were done pretty differently than I usually do them. Um, they were pretty much done between me and the man who was recording them, without bunches of people around. He was very adamant that he and I work on the lead vocals. And I’m just used to like, you know, inviting all my friends and doing ‘It’s lead vocal night’, you know, and then I just sing all the songs, you know, about five or six times each, and we get vocals, you know. But this time we worked on, you know, we’d take a song like every night, which is still quick to get a lead vocal, but anybody who works with me sort of finally gets the idea that I’m not the type of person you want to make sing a song over and over and over and over. It’s not gonna be that good, but the first two or three times I do it, it’s probably going to be real good. And so we got our vocals very quickly.
RR: When you’re working on a project, and this one you did some pre-production and you say you sat down and wrote about all the songs, do you need somebody else to bounce ideas off? Because you have the initial ideas and you probably have the lyric content. Do you need these other people around to bounce off and formulate your own ideas?
SN: As far as the singing of the song, no, I don’t. Um, and I’m really not very open to telling me how to sing something. Um, because that’s the one thing that I feel that is my forte, you know. If the one thing that I am good at it is going out onstage and singing to people live, when it’s not being recorded, you know, when it’s just live entertainment, and so I get, when people start telling me, “Well, I think you should sing this different. I think you should sing this a little softer. I think that you’re being too passionate with that line”, then I start to get all befuddled, you know, and then I start to not know how to sing it. So usually people back off very quickly when they - Cos they, everybody will alway try, you know, but they’ll see - I go kind of white, you know. My face turns kind of pale and I sort of start looking kind of sick, you know, and they just back off. They realize immediately that the best thing to do is let me run with it. And then, after we’ve gotten a good vocal, I come in and THEN is the time for them to say, “You know, on this line or that line, maybe if you just delivered it a little softer, maybe that would mean more.” And then i can dig that. I can understand that and appreciate that and go out and fix that line. But as long as they let me do the whole thing myself. First. And then they can talk about it.
RR: It’s like people who say, “Well, listen. It’s my record, I know these songs and I know how they should be presented.” And that to me is very, very special. Cos it’s got your name on the sleeve. And you’re the person who people are going to say, “I really like that” or “I don’t like it.” It’s you, it’s all down to you. It’s not down to the producer. That isn’t who the public see; they see Stevie Nicks, and they go, “Well, that’s your record.” Um, Blue Denim has got some lovely guitar on it. Um, and there’s a really nice structure underneath it. I mean, do you play? Are you actually saying to a musician or a guitarist, “Well, I’d really like you to do it this way.” Or do you let them come in and say, “This is the song; let me see what you come up with.”
SN: No. I treat them just like I expect people to treat me when I’m singing. I don’t say a word to them about how to play. Um, I just, I - Mostly, what I do say to them is, uh, “You can have as much time as you want. I’m lighting incense, I’m putting a candle out there, um, you can try all different kinds of things. I just love to hear you play. I’m just honored to be here and hear you play. So you just do anything you want.” And I think that I release them, and then I get so kind of bubbly about it that they go out there and they feel good, you know. I mean, it’s like they have a good time, because no, nobody is out there with a stick saying, “Now I want you to go do-do-do-do”, you know. It’s like I would never say that to a guitar player, cos if I was a guitarist, I would hate that. And I’m sure people do. I’m sure a lot of people that are a lot more - I’m not very strict or rigid, you know, so. I look at the whole thing as kind of a celebration or a party or just a wonderful time that we’re spending together, and it would be really hard for me, you know, to like really produce, to be that taskmaster.
RR: I think if I probably asked that question to Mike Campbell, he’d say, “Listen, it was just a pleasure to play behind her voice.” And you’d get the sort of respect that musicians have, I think. And that’s probably part of it as well. There’s a Heartbreakers connection here that’s been around for quite a while now. I just think he’s one of those great players. And Benmont Tench and these guys, they’re just wonderful players. Is it very easy for you now to just say, “Well, I’d like this person to play or that person to play.” Or do you really have to think, do you want their style. Because, honestly, you’re so respected amongst other musicians, you could really pick up the phone and get anybody to come and play.
SN: Well, yeah. Um, see, Michael’s and mine connection comes from, um, many, many years ago. Uh, he writes, he and I write together. He sends me tracks here to Phoenix, here to this very room. Um, he’ll like send me five tracks, just musical tracks, with no instruction, you know. It’s like, he doesn’t like say on the track, “Okay, chorus. Vocal. Chorus. Verse. Verse.” He doesn’t do that, because he knows I hate that. So he just sends me five incredible instrumental tracks. And he knows that somewhere out of that five, I’m probably going to write three songs out of there, maybe more. Maybe four. Maybe the next year I’ll pull that tape out again and use another track. So we have a 50/50 writing partnership. And he never asks me a thing, you know. It’s like he just sends me the songs. He knows that they’re mine now. And, um, he loves the songs that I write to them. Kick It is a wild song; that’s Michael’s song. Um, Blue Denim is Michael’s. I mean, you can imagine my incredible happiness at sitting in this room and putting this tape on and having, you know, the track to Blue Denim play and the track to Kick It play and the track to Greta play. It’s amazing, you know, it’s like I feel like, Wow, I have this incredible, like invisible man that is like right over my shoulder all the time, you know. So Michael will always come in and oversee his songs. Because that’s the only time that I think he ever thinks of them as his songs, cos for him they are instrumental things, you know. And he writes the same way for Tom; he writes the tracks and then Tom picks out the ones he likes, and the ones that Tom says he can give to me, he gives to me.
RR: Interesting. Do you keep songs for awhile? I mean, Rose Garden. I mean, is that, are some of these songs that you’ve written quite some time ago, and a lot of writers, they put something away and go, ‘Well, it’s not quite ready yet. I’ll bring it out of the drawer for another time.’ Do you keep, I mean, I’ve been told that is a song that has been around quite a long time.
SN: Yeah. Um, sometimes, you know, it’s not that, it has nothing to do with the fact that the song isn’t really good or that everybody doesn’t really like it. It just doesn’t work for some reason. But I’ve always - Most of the songs that I go back to the piano and play, whether or not they were recorded or not, you know, um, then I know that they’re always still good, because I’ll still sit down at the piano and play them. Um, there’s been several songs that have been recorded four or five times, by Fleetwood Mac and by me, and never did make it onto a record. And then, you know, whatever was the reason, the stars were in the right place, we recorded it and it worked. Rose Garden I wrote on the guitar when I was about sixteen years old. I was a sophomore in high school and, uh, I was very upset about something that I saw, just a little something that happened. And I just sat down and wrote that song. And then, uh, I always wanted to do it and it always just seemed, again, not the right time for it. And this time I sat down and I actually played it on the guitar. I don’t play guitar much anymore, um, and the people that I was working with said, “Well, this is a serious song and it’s a good song. It’s a little kind of country. Let’s do it, let’s do it,” you know. And having Bernie Leadon, you know, with his Eagle background and his acoustic, he’s so good. He just picked it right up. And it was done. That was one of the songs that was worked out very, very quickly.
RR: But you haven’t put the arrangement on it that a lot of people would expect you to. You’ve kept it, as you say, very - It’s a very country sort of song. It’s not the sort of song that you would record, in peoples’ minds, apart from this album.
SN: Right. No, it isn’t. And it is recorded, it’s recorded, sorry, exactly the way that - I knew one pick, I knew the Joan Baez dun-du-du-dun-dun, that kind of thing, so it was like, “You never promised me a rose garden. Dun-du-du-dun-dun.” So that’s how it was, and so they just, they recorded it the way that I played it for them on the guitar.
RR: Your solo career developed in tandem with Fleetwood Mac, and it was going along. Erm, why’d it take you so long to say, “Hang on, I think I’ll just be a solo artist”? Or was it something that you enjoying both projects equally?
SN: Well, at first it was - When I did Bella Donna, it was, uh, the reason I went away to do Bella Donna was because I just had too many songs. And it was like really bumming me out, because I had all this backlog of songs that I knew were never going to get used, and so why bother to write a new song. I started getting very fatalistic about songwriting, and that’s why I did a solo album. And it was fine to do Bella Donna and go back to Fleetwood Mac, but every time I did a solo album Fleetwood Mac became a little bit less, uh, nice about it. To the point of they didn’t even, they didn’t want to even hear about it or talk about it or anything, so it was like I had this whole other life and then I would come back to them and they’d just be like waiting like cats for me. And basically it was like, “Well, you’re late.” You know. And not ,”You’re late because you have a solo career and we know that you weren’t just messing around. We know you were actually out on the road or something,” but, you know, “You’re late and that’s completely unacceptable.” And so they would get really mad at me and, um, and they’d never say, you know, “Well, that was really good, that was a good record, Stevie.” You know, they’d never try to make me feel like it was okay. So it just got worse and worse. But it was very hard for me to leave Fleetwood Mac, because when you’re a member of a band that’s gone through everything that we have and that’s, you know, been so tight, so close together, it’s very hard to leave when you know that Lindsey has already left. And then when I left I knew that that would be, you know, that would really be the end. For awhile, anyway. And, um, until Mick would decide to do something else with the band name. And so I didn’t leave for a long time just for the same reason that people don’t get out of love relationships for a long time: because they just can’t. They just don’t know how to do it.
RR: But if it wasn’t for you and Lindsey, Fleetwood Mac would’ve folded years ago. They were not exactly selling records by the bucketload until your creativity joined them as musicians. One point, and the second point, I find that really sad that they couldn’t actually say, “Well, yes, Stevie, I like that song. I didn’t like the whole album but I did like that song.” I find that very sad.
SN: Well, if they had’ve, I never would have left. I would’ve stayed. Cos if I was gonna leave, I would’ve left when Lindsey left. For sure. You know, I would’ve just gone with him. But because I had that heart pull, tugging at me, I didn’t go when he went. And, um, you know, if they had been more accepting of my solo career and that I did actually do something else, um, and not made me feel real guilty about it, then I probably would not have left, you know.
RR: While we’re on the subject, um, Sara. That is a monster, monster song. So popular. I mean, when you’re working on something like that, do you ever, and I’ve asked this to hundreds of musicians, have any idea that there is this monster coming out, as you’re working on a project like that?
SN: With Sara, yes, I did. Because I wrote Sara on the piano myself. And the original Sara was sixteen minutes long. It had about like nine more verses than what you hear on the record, and it got edited down to like, you know, fourteen minutes and then down to eleven minutes, down to nine minutes, down to seven minutes, down to four minutes forty seconds, and I was to the point where I was like, “Well, is the word Sara even going to be left in my song?” I knew that Sara would be very popular because I loved writing that song. I had more fun writing that. I mean, I can remember the night I wrote it. I sat up with a very good friend of mine whose name is Sara, um, who was married to Mick Fleetwood, Sara Fleetwood. And she likes to think it’s completely about her, but it’s really not completely about her. It’s about me and it’s about her and it’s about Mick and it’s about Fleetwood Mac; it’s about all of us at that point. There’s little bits about each one of us in that song. And when it had all the other verses, it really covered a vast bunch of people, you know, but, uh, I knew that Sara was just the kind of song you could fall in love with. Because I fell in love with it. It’s one of those songs that I don’t know where it came from and I don’t even like to take complete credit for even writing it. I think it got channeled through me or something, because I do love it so much and I do enjoy singing it so much. And I still walk to the piano and I’ll sit down, you know, here, where I wrote it, and I’ll just be playing Sara, and it’s like it was never recorded. It’s like it is still brand new to me.
RR: A lot of the material that you have written has got that longevity. I mean, I would say that you’re one of these musicians who will be creative and the love of your craft and you’re not really affected by fashion or by trends. You just do what you want to do and you believe very much in what you want to do, with a passion.
SN: Yeah, I do. Um, I don’t know - It is my great belief that has kept me doing this all these years, you know. And kept me, still, always loving it, you know. I mean, if you’re going to have a job, this is the best of both worlds, to know that you’re secure and that you can pay your rent or your house payment, and still it never feels like work, you know. I mean, I am old enough now and wise enough to accept in my ancient wisdom the fact that I’m very, very lucky. And that, you know, I’m blessed to have gotten to have do something that I love this much, and not have to get up at six o’clock and be at the office at eight. Which I would hate. I would hate.
RR: But also, when you’re recording, you work a lot longer hours than that.
SN: Yes, but we don’t start til three in the afternoon and then we go all night and then we sleep late into the day, you know, so my whole schedule is completely, you know, backwards.
RR: This album, I think, has been recorded so much with a live feel. And listening to it, I can even picture the musicians onstage, which I find very hard to do with a lot of work. It’s a bit over-produced, it’s gone a bit too far, not so much with your work but a lot of artists. This just transfers to a stage and to a touring situation so easily. Does a lot of that go through your mind in that, ‘Oh, hang on, I’ve got to play these songs live probably, if we do go out on tour.’
SN: Yes. It does. Um, it’s always really feels good to know that - Because sometimes when you are recording a song, you might really love this song and it may be one of, you think it’s one of the best things you’ve ever done. But as you’re doing it, you know that this is not going to transfer to a live stage. You just know it. It’s too complicated, there’s too much going on, there’s too many people playing, there’s too much, you know, high tech stuff, there’s too much digital shit going on. And, um, you know that when it comes right down to doing it onstage, everybody’s just going to go, ‘This is just far beyond what we should do onstage’, you know. And it’s not going to come off good. It’s not going to sound like the record. So when you do write songs and record them and they still sound, to you, like, ‘Well, yeah, we’re all standing in this room, we’re playing this now here, so we could obviously like beam ourselves onto a stage and play this song.’ It feels wonderful because you know that you may not do it. You may not do it onstage with the album that time, but the next tour is when you start really pulling out songs from this record, because then you can, because people are familiar enough with the stuff that you can replace some other favorites that have to go. But you can’t do that this time, so you can only play about three new songs.
RR: Deeply disappointed.
SN: Well, me too, but we - I have the greatest experience of learning that with Rumours. Now Rumours, right, turned into the most loved album. Um, Rumours had been out for six weeks, seven weeks. We went on the road. We had Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac, the record was the one that was out before with ‘Over My Head’ and ‘Rhiannon’ and okay. And we thought, well, ‘You know, everybody loves this record, this is great. It’s selling really good, you know.’ So we put about six or seven songs in. In Kansas City. And we almost got booed off the stage. People, the audience was angry. Because we didn’t do a lot of the songs that they wanted to hear and they weren’t familiar with the Rumours songs at all.They had, like, all of them had just gotten the record. They came to hear the last record, they came to hear all of that, and sort of see the same show they’d already seen with a couple of new things. And we completely changed it. And went totally with the Rumours thing. Didn’t work. Didn’t work. We had to like go into, we had to like cancel two or three gigs and go back into rehearsal like in New York somewhere, you know, and completely revamp and go back and put stuff back in. It was awful.
RR: Um, ‘Street Angel’, David Crosby on harmony vocal, who I’ve just got so much respect for. And to come what he’s been through, I think, as a musician, he’s wonderful. Erm, very simple production on this. Initially. Probably not on the technical side, but to my ears, it is very simple. Again, was that the idea of this track, to keep it fairly simple and keep - The lyric is very strong on this one.
SN: Um, yeah. ‘Street Angel’ is another one that I wrote just by myself and, um, the ones that I write just by myself on the piano are always towards the classical sort of thing. And they usually stick pretty close to the way that I did it, because even though I’m not very good on the piano, um, I have a certain style, you know. And I have a certain timing and my foot sort of goes, you know, and they like my timing, so they kind of stick with the way that I did it. And with ‘Street Angel’, it was very, very simple. And then at the end, when we were done recording, I went back in and Waddy Wachtel, who’s a very good friend of mine, came in and put a very searing lead guitar thing over the top of it, which was not there for all the months that it was recorded. And, um, which I loved, because I knew, I had him come in and do a couple of things because I had missed him. He was gone, he wasn’t around. Excuse me. I had missed his presence on the record. And, uh, so he came in and played and I thought that that really sewed it up, because before it was almost, it was really like just me by myself with nothing else.
RR: Very supportive, how the musicians contribute. That’s what I was saying earlier about the way that they - It does happen, in that musicians come along and you go, ‘I don’t really want that there but it just sounds so good, that let’s do it.’ And you mentioned the sort of family format with this album, and that appears to be coming through more and more, in that these people are contributing and you’re not going to say, ‘Well, hang on a minute.’ You’re going, ‘I really like that. I think that’s great.’ Moving onto to my favourite, ‘Love Is Like A River’, which I think is just, the guitar and everything in that, is wonderful, wonderful song. And, again, live. A song that, you’re going a lotmore towards the rock’n’roll era of things and away from the swirling and the producing that we expect of Stevie Nicks. Is that just for this project or is this the way that, with songs like ‘Love Is Like A River’, you would go further in that direction?
SN: You know, I didn’t choose to do that. I didn’t choose to make The Other Side of the Mirror a fairy mist thing, and then choose to make this totally rock’n’roll. I didn’t do that. It just sort of happened. I mean, the great spirits that be obviously kind of just pointed me back towards Buckingham Nicks/Bella Donna, I think. Said, ‘Let’s do this’, you know, ‘Let’s go back to more guitar.’ Definitely more guitar, more acoustic guitar, more rhythm, you know. And, of course, that’s really a lot of fun and, again, you can sit in a living room and play that stuff. Cos you can just have, you know, you can have Bernie and Andy and Waddy and we can all sit right here and we can reproduce any of these. Right now, tonight. If they were here, we could show you.
RR: Your live performances are very passionate, very dramatic, and I’ve only seen one. Erm, does a live performance really drain you? Because it appears to, tremendously.
SN: Yeah, it does. But I really, you know, I love every minute of it. I mean, to me it is like a play, it’s very theatrical to me. I always talk about, you know, the stage, onstage, you know, it’s like, you’d think I was like in a Shakespearean company or something when I’m just talking about it. Um, I would, you know, I would hate to think people were out there being bored, so I rack my brain constantly to figure out things to change to make it so it’s all starting again or to create, you know, if I do Sara or if I do Gold Dust Woman, whatever the song, to make that character that walks out on the stage for that song, really become her. And, um, the song Alice, you know, I put this like blue velvet poncho on and I have this incredible blue velvet fan, you know, and it’s like Alice becomes this girl in the blue cape and the blue fan with a blue velvet beret, and she’s different than the girl that is in the gold coat with the huge amounts of blonde hair that’s the Gold Dust Woman. She’s very different, you know. She’s very coy, she’s very petite. The other girl is very long and tall and skinny and very, like, intense, you know. And so that’s what I try to do; I try to make these characters different when they come on.
RR: It is. And I think if you can do that properly, it works very effectively. If you do it and it doesn’t look quite right, then, I mean -
SN: Then it doesn’t work.
RR: Then it doesn’t work. Peter Gabriel in the early days of Genesis used to use a lot of theatre and imagery, and now he doesn’t. He’s gone in a different tack. But it did work, because all the monologues and the things that he explained when he did introduce a Genesis song worked and theatre came into it very effectively, and it worked very, very well.
RR: Erm, ‘Don’t Stop’ was part of the Clinton thing and suddenly, you know, everyone’s hearing this record constantly. Did you have any choice about that, because that’s a political campaign that you could, all of a sudden, be associated with and it might be nothing to do with you. Just the fact that they picked the song, you instantly become associated with some political ideals. Was any of that down to you or did it just sort of happen?
SN: Um, it just sort of happened. I think that Bill Clinton picked that song out like years ago. The story is that he was in - this could be totally a fairy-story - but the story is that he was in a cab about ten years ago and that song came on the radio, and he was talking to the cab driver, who knew - He was in politics then. He said, ‘Well, gee, Bill, if that’s ever, if you ever like get to be President or something, maybe this should be like your song.’ He said, ‘I think this would be the greatest song, don’t you?’ And they had this like great conversation. And so all the years later, it is said that he picked this song. And I think that we were so honored that anybody, you know, would pick one of our songs to be that important to them, that - And because, you know, we’re all, I mean, I think Bill Clinton’s two years older than me or a year older than me. Not much. We’re kind of the same age. And there’s something about that is very attractive, you know, that we were kind of, instead of the President of the United States being way older than we were, he wasn’t way older, he was kind of in the same generation, you know. And so the fact that he had gone back ten years before, when we were all ten years younger than now, um, it was real exciting to us. And the Inauguration was very exciting, and we were treated really wonderful, and being there was like not even like any rock’n’roll thing I’ve ever done. It was scary, it was exciting, it was passionate, it was, you know, FBI and CIA and everybody, Secret Service there. Everywhere. I mean, you couldn’t even come out of your little trailer without like people looking at you, you know. It was very intense. And there was like 18,000 people there. So it was really something.
RR: 18,000 people there, but the audience worldwide must’ve been phenomenal. Phenomenal. How do you think he’s shaping up then? As a President. From your point of view.
SN: I don’t know. You know, I really, I like him. I like Bill Clinton, I think he’s a really nice man. Um, I don’t know a lot about politics and I’m one of those people that if I let myself get real involved in it, I probably would get VERY involved in it. So I kind of don’t. Because I think that I don’t want to like find things wrong with our President, because there’s something in me that wants to believe that he’s gonna do a really good job, you know. Or I just wanna, I guess maybe I just want to be really positive for him, because he is the first President that’s right out of my generation.
RR: You very proud of being an American?
SN: Yeah. I am very proud of it.
RR: Very often people in the music industry and songwriters say, ‘Oh, what a country. It’s just not happening. It’s not, this is not that.’ That’s quite unusual to meet a musician who is actually, has got the courage to say, ‘Yeah, I don’t mind being American. It’s alright. You can still get the American Dream. You can still -
SN: For me, you know, I mean, it’s been wonderful to me. And I mean, I came from absolutely nothing and managed to make a stamp on this world, I think, you know. So there is something to that American Dream.
RR: I read somewhere that it’s very important to you, if you’re just sat in an airport lounge or something and I believe this very much, in that someone who’s actually bought one of your records or a piece of music of yours that is special to them, and will come up to you and say, ‘Oh, Stevie, that was just such a great song. And my husband and I listened to it and we met.’ That is the bottom line, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the critics are saying, what your contemporaries feel, if somebody has worked and gone out and bought it, that is the bottom line.
SN: Yeah, that’s when you really feel that you have affected, you know, that you have actually written something that made a difference in somebody else’s life. That’s the only reason that I write, you know. I mean, I write stuff so that people who don’t write don’t have to write it. So I can write it for them and they can live through that. They can enjoy their own experience just because I wrote it down for them, you know. Just like if I was sitting here with you and you told me of an experience of yours, I could write it down and write it into a song. So what I do is I take all of my experiences - I figure they’ve got to be very similar to everyone else’s experiences - and I write them up. And then, you know, I get letters from people, saying, ‘Well, I totally related to this,’ you know. ‘I mean, this happened to me. If I didn’t know you didn’t write this about me, I would be sure you did.’ And it’s like, well, in my heart, you know, I wrote it for you and I wrote it for me. I wrote it for both of us.
RR: That can be very dangerous, especially if you’ve been through - And there are a lot of songs where I think, Ouch. I think lyrically, some of these songs, I mean, ‘Kick It’, I think, is a ‘ooph, ouch’. And it seems to me that you’ve been through loads of unhappy relationships and that you’ve had a pretty tough time. Now a songwriter once said to me that that can be very dangerous, because it’s like leaving a very private diary open on a table for everybody to read. How do you draw that line not to go in too far, or once you get into writing a lyric about an experience, you can’t really stop yourself. Is there a situation where you would think, ’No, this just might upset the person who knows what I’m writing about here’? Or do you just say, ‘I’ve got to tell this story’?
SN: I just say, ‘I’ve got to tell this story.’ I decided a long time ago, if I was going to be a true writer, that I would have to tell the truth, that I couldn’t, you know - What I do do is, I’m very poetic. So I can really tell the truth and then I can go back and change words, you know, like and put in much formal words, because I’m a speech communication major, right, for five years, so it’s like I studied that for years. And so that’s something that I love to do, you know. I’ll write out something really quickly and it’ll be just exactly what I wanted, except I think it’s a little too harsh. So I’ll go back and I’ll soften it into better poetry. But no, I totally tell the truth. And if someone else gets upset with me, that’s their problem, you know, because I don’t tell anybody that, ‘Oh, this is, THIS is about my friend John and isn’t he a jerk?’ I don’t, you know, I don’t ever do that. And people will go, ’Is that about me?’ and I’ll go, ‘Maybe it is and maybe it is not.’ It may very well be about somebody else. So nobody really knows.
RR: But that’s an interesting way of putting it, because it could be and it couldn’t be. It could be from any situation. Um, ‘Kick It’, as you’ve already mentioned, and we’ve just spoken about it, really, has got the best on it. It’s got Mike Campbell, everybody’s on there. And a great song to drive to. That and ‘Listen To The Rain’, these are nice songs to drive to. You’re covering all sorts of area with this album, in that, yes, we’ve discussed about it being guitar-based, but there is the ballad in there, there is the melody in there, there is the Stevie Nicks elements that we expect. Can you see yourself, as you said, you know, yes, this is a bit of a rocker album and you’ve done melodic albums before - Could you see yourself going very much harder, or just as you say, when you come to record the next album, ‘let’s see.’
SN: I think it would probably depend on when I get ready to do the next record, when I start gathering together my group of songs, which is always way more than I need so that some of that have to get the ax, which is really hard for me, um, and when I gather the people together, it’s kind of, you know, how they take my songs. If they go, ‘Well, you know, these are really rock’n’roll songs, you know, now we can go this way, we can like soften them. We can arrange them in a much - ‘ You can take a song and do almost anything with it. ‘Or we can really follow your hard lines on this.’ And, um, then it just kind of depends on, usually, with me, the guys just kind of, they just start, sit around and start playing it, you know. And it just goes the way that it’s, sort of, the way it’s supposed to go. Because, again, I don’t ever tell them, ‘Well, okay, now, no, don’t play this really rock’n’roll, play this more - the word that I hate the most - pop. Or more easy-listening or something, you know.’ I will never say that. And I will never say it’s too hard rock’n’roll either, because if I’m pushed, or if I’m asked, I can be really, very hard rock’n’roll.
RR: Are you very independent?
SN: Yeah, I think I’m real independent.
RR: In all aspects? I mean, I think now that more musicians, instead of having a manager, they’re saying, ‘Well, no, hang on. I’d like to know where the money’s going. I’d like to know what is happening.’ And I think musicians now are getting stronger, in that they want to know what’s going on, as well as the creative side of them. I think they want to know more about the business side of things as well, because they have these days, which I think is really encouraging. Um, we talked about where your subject matter comes from, and you’re also working on other projects as well. You’ve got some writings, you’ve got some photographs and you’ve got some paintings. Are they something that you really want to do, or is that something that is just suddenly appeared, that you’ve been working on these things for a long time and you thought, ‘Well, hang on. Maybe this is worth doing.’ And music will always come first, I would imagine.
SN: Probably the music will always come first. Uh, but the other things are really important, too. The writing’s really important and the paintings, the drawings, are really important. And the photographs are really important. But I have to really like have some serious time to develop those other things, because, I mean, I take a lot of serious time to develop the music. And in order for me to ever put out any of the other stuff, to actually want to share that with the world also, I would have to be able to put the same amount of time in on that, that I do on this. Because I couldn’t, you know, when I start an album, it’s like, I want this album to be really wonderful, you know, and whatever it takes, that’s how it gotta be. I couldn’t just, you know, go through my drawings and say, ‘Okay, let’s just put out this twenty’, you know. I’d have to go over each one and I’d have to like clean them up and I’d have to do a little more drawing on each one of them and I’d have to photograph them a bunch of times to see how I wanted them photographed, from which angle. It would be a big deal, it would be a very big deal. And I couldn’t let anybody else do it. I’d have to do every bit of it myself.
RR: We have people in the music industry like Lyle Lovatt, Tom Waits being very recognised as fine actors, and indeed they’ve got talents. Initially it was hard for people to say, ‘This man’s a rocker singer. Why’d you want to be an actor?’ That might happen to you. ‘This is a vocalist. Why does she want to do paintings and stuff like that?’ Do you think people would be over-critical of your work initially?
SN: Um, no, I don’t think they will be because they know that anything that I do, I don’t do for it to be perfect. I do it because I have a love of doing it. And, to me, if I think it’s good enough to ever show anybody - because otherwise it will never see the light of day, if it’s a song or if it’s a painting - but if I think that it’s really sweet, or if I think that it has a real character, even though maybe it’s not the best drawing in the world, but there’s something in it that just kind of reaches out, then I think that my particular audience, my particular fans, I think that they will just kind of enjoy it for the same reason that I enjoyed sharing it with them, you know, that they would go, ‘Well, you know, she did this and she tells us how she did it and when she did it and why she did it, and she named this after a song, and this is cool, we’re going to share this with her,’ you know. And it’s not like I would ever try to be like a great painter or anything.
RR: Somebody said to me, ‘It’s a bit like Michelangelo and somebody saying, Put that bit of blue paint there. Put that bit of red paint there.’ You’ve got to do it yourself.
SN: You do.
RR. Alright. I’m not a fan of people covering great songs, but you’ve done it on this album. And I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I think it works very, very well.
SN: That’s exactly what Bob Dylan said to me.
RR: I was just gonna say -
SN: ‘To be perfectly honest with you, I think it works rather well.’ Because I was waiting for him to say, ‘I hate it.’
RR: First of all, what was his thoughts when you said to him, ‘I’m gonna do this song.’
SN: I said that to him eight years ago when he and Tom Petty went to Australia, and my friend Rebecca, who’s here tonight, and I went along, just to watch. And, um, I told Bob that someday I was going to do ‘Just Like A Woman’, and he just sort of smiled his Bob Dylan smile and said, ‘Cool’, you know. ‘Cool’. And, um, so when I did it, I recorded it, I pretty much finished it, and then I got people to get in touch with him. And he came down to the studio - And I knew I’d only get him to be there one night, so I played it for him, and he just stood there with very little expression. And when it was over, the first thing out of my mouth, I think, was like, ‘Do you hate it? You hate it, right? It’s horrible.’ And he said to me, ‘No, I like it really a lot.’ He said, ‘You told me you were going to do this someday,’ and he said, ‘Uh, you’re one of the few women I know that ever follows through on anything.’ He said, ‘I like it.’ And I said, ‘Do you wanna sing on it?’ And he said, ‘No, I don’t.’ And I said, ‘Well, whyyyy?’ And he said, ‘Because I think that you sang it great.’ He said, ‘Your philosophy, the philosophy you picked up from it, the way that, from your interpretation of what I said is great.’ He says, ‘There’s no reason for me to sing on it.’ And I said, ‘Well, will you play some guitar or some harmonica? Please.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I will.’ And so he went out and he played a little guitar and he played a little harmonica. He came in, we listened to it. He kind of, you know, the whole Dylan awe-striking thing that he has, you know, when he just walks in a room. Um, he said, ‘It’s good, it’s really good, Stevie, and I hope that, you know, I hope that people really enjoy it again this time.’ I said, ‘I know they will, I know they will. Because you were connected to this.’ And, uh, he said, ‘Cool’, and he left. And I really haven’t talked to him since.
RR: Spirit of Bob, isn’t it?
SN: Yeah. Well, you know, he’s so, he’s a rare bird, you know. I mean, you don’t pin him down ever. So. But I got to know him real well on that tour, and, you know, traveling with people, you get to know them, and, uh, he became, you know, I became the person who - I would make him laugh when he came offstage, you know. I would go, ‘You know, Bob, you look marvellous.’ And I would get him every single night with that, and he would always know I was going to do it, but I would always bluff him into thinking I was going to say something else. And it would get him, and cos he never laughs, right? And he would laugh, you know. So we sort of developed a good friendship bond during that thirty days that I was with them. And so I think he wasn’t really surprised that I did the song. He knew I loved his music.
RR: It’s interesting that, talking to people in the UK before I was coming out here, and you’d mention your name, and people would go like, ‘Yeah, yeah’, you know. There’s quite a lot of support in the UK and the territories for you. And for your music. Are you aware of the support that there is in these other areas, apart from living in the States? Are you aware that people do show an interest in your music and do enjoy what you do?
SN: I think I’m aware to an extent, you know. Otherwise I don’t think I would still be doing solo records. Um, you know, I think that I have a really wonderful relationship with the people that like my music. Um, I think that somehow I managed to get across to them a long time ago that I wanted to have an intimate relationship with them, that I wanted to somehow know them, you know. And when I go out onstage and play, that’s like my only time that I really get to spend with them, you know. And it’s very precious to me and I think they really understand that, and that makes me a little bit different than a lot of other artists. Because they know that when I walk on stage, there is no place I would rather be. And there is no place I would rather be than onstage singing to people.
RR: Stevie Nicks, thank you.
SN: Oh, you’ve very welcome.