ILLUME (9/11)

"Illume is a very interesting song, actually. I wrote it after September 11th, you know, so it was one of the first I wrote after those tragedies. It’s just about making it, you know. I was sitting there, thinking about those horrible tragedies in October of 2001, and I was sitting there with just me in the room, and the candle was lit. I love candles, you know. And my heart was still so heavy from everything, and I didn’t know quite what would happen, and we were all like that, confused.

I didn’t set out to write a September 11th song, it just happened. It goes “Illume, says the candle that I burn, a reflection in the window,” and that’s just about the inspiration for the song. And I tell you, my heart was so very heavy and full at this time, I was so confused. And then there are some other parts…
"And I am alone with my thoughts, And how we could make it – And what we have been through, all of the trauma.” I also wrote one called “Get Back on the Plane,” and a song called “The Towers Touched the Sky,” but it was just too depressing."
~Stevie Nicks, 2003

"One of my favorite songs on the record is called Illume. I wrote it about what happened on 9-11."
~Stevie Nicks, Ask Stevie,, 2003

"Lindsey had tears in his eyes," she [Stevie] recalls. "He put his hand on my knee and said 'How do you do this?' "
~on Lindsey's reaction to Illume, Uncut magazine, 5-03

Thursday Night
Back at the beach

Says the candle that I burn
A reflection in the window
All the way to point Dune
A cliff dweller from the old school-

I like the coastal cities
I like the lights
I like the way the ocean blends
Into the city at night
Like living on a working river
The coastline is glittering-
Like a diamond snake-
In a black sky    

And I am alone with my thoughts
And how we could make it-
And what we have all been through
And all of the trauma-
With the smell of Nag Champa
Like a kiss- like a stranger-
What we have seen on this journey
Are what legends are made of-

I will not take you for granted
My friend, my dear one, my love-
I wouldn’t trade you for jade…
Or for diamonds~
I need you to be there~
Remember when I am haunted
That I was just scared-
And when I remember
That day in my life-
I will remember that you-
Were there-

Stevie Nicks
Oct. 11th, 2001




~Stevie Nicks, journal entries,, 2001

"I read Stevie's poetry for that song before she came in with the music," says [Mick] Fleetwood. "She was very unsettled by 9/11, as we all were. The groove for 'Illume' is incredibly simple, and she was like: 'Is this any good? Is it doing enough?' I said, 'In my opinion, Stevie, this is all about you; this is your modern-day "Gold Dust Woman."' It has that Edith Piaf element coming through; that thing where the singer's relationship with the lyric is incredibly personal and powerful."
~Mick Fleetwood, The Independent, 4-18-03

"I was in New York on 9/11 during my tour. I've never been a political person, but suddenly I felt like I was in the middle of history. We were at the Waldorf with all these foreign diplomats. It was very scary. I watched people jumping (from the twin towers) on a Mexican TV channel. We put wet towels in the windows to keep out the burning iron smell. Illume is a poem about 9/11 and about getting through it and getting back home. Part of me wanted to pack my bags and cancel the tour. But my parents and friends like Tom Petty and Don Henley kept saying, 'People paid to see your show, and if they're willing to go out in this frightening world, don't you dare come home.' It was hard to walk on stage and not burst into tears. I was almost hysterical. All my songs suddenly seemed to be about 9/11."
~Stevie Nicks, USA Today, 4-28-03

"It's about 9/11. I was in New York City the morning the planes hit, staying at the Waldorf-Astoria. We had done a show the night before, on September 10, in Toronto, and I had decided to take my day off in New York. I arrived the morning of September 11 at about 1:30. We were there for three days--the scariest three days of my entire life. We had big, wet towels on all the windows to keep the air out because it was acrid and horrible. I thought I'd never get home. The day I finally got back to Los Angeles, I walked through the doors of my house and I sat down and there was one of those Illume candles sitting in front of me. So it started out,"Illume/says the candle that I burn/a reflection in the window." It was very heavy for me."
These songs seem like some of the most frank I’ve ever heard from you.
"You're right. The reason is there was no time to change stuff. All the poetry was pulled straight out of the journals from the tour. All those words are exactly as they were written in my diaries during the post-9/11 period."
~Stevie Nicks, Interview magazine, 6-03

"Well, you know I didn't write "Illume (9-11)" to try and be political. I wrote it because I had arrived in New York at 3 o'clock in the morning, in the middle of the night, and had gone to the Waldorf Astoria hotel and got there at 4:30 and then unpacked, went to bed at 7:30, and then somewhere between 10:30 and 11, my assistant came in and tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I think you need to wake up and see what's happening." And so I was in New York for three days, and it was so disturbing, and "Illume" was a poem that I wrote when I got back to Los Angeles at the end of that tour. There was part of me that thought I might never get home. It was so frightening out there. So I wrote this poem "Illume," and when I went home two months later, I wanted to write a few new songs for this record and pulled all of my poetry out from my journals that I had from over that year and the tour, and I pulled out the "Illume" poem. I thought, "Maybe I can very subtly put this to music." I never expected it to be a song that would be anything more than for the people that were in New York City that day. Because I can't write about how everybody else felt--I can only write about how I felt and how I feel New Yorkers felt that day, that morning. So I'm very, very proud of that song. I wanted to say something for those people. That would be forever."
~Stevie Nicks, Launch Online, 12-21-03


[On the line 'You're not like other people/You do what you want to do']:

'That line sums Lindsey [Buckingham] up,' says [Stevie] Nicks with a laugh. ''But he loves it. He loves the fact that I write about him. It makes him happy.''
~The Boston Globe, 4-18-03

"'Thrown Down' is about Lindsey [Buckingham] ," [Stevie] Nicks admits, "but I wrote that around the time of the Dance tour in 1997. Let's just say he continues to be a well of inspiration, which is terrific."
~The Independent, 4-18-03


"Christine McVie is featured on "Say You Will's" title track (written by [Stevie] Nicks as an homage to McVie) ."
~San Diego Tribune, 4-6-03

"Everybody’s experienced it - when you like somebody, it makes you a different person. It changes you and it changes you in a minute. But that song is not just about Lindsey. It’s about a movie I saw about Arturo Sandoval, the trumpet player. I loved this movie, and I just loved the way that through all the pain and separation, they managed to do music and stay happy and keep love alive, and dancing and rhythm and music, how healing it was. That was really my inspiration for that song. The chorus was written first, then I went back to write the verses. It was initially inspired by that movie. But then once you get part of the poem down, you can’t always write all of it about what inspired it initially. You have to go back. You have this great chorus that basically says, "If you dance with me, you won’t be mad at me anymore. We can be in a huge argument, but if we put on some music and start to dance, everything will be great." Then I had to think about what to make the verses about. So I went back over all my relationships with people and think of different ways that I have felt when I wanted basically to burst into song and sing that chorus (laughs). Give me one more chance. That’s what came out of it. It’s funny because, we just did an interview the day before yesterday, and I don’t think any of the band knows that that was the reason I wrote the song."
~Stevie Nicks, Performing Songwriter magazine, 2003


"The rest of the new Fleetwood Mac album [Say You Will] finds [Stevie] Nicks in more traditional form, penning mystical songs such as ''Running Through the Garden'' (based on a Nathaniel Hawthorne story about a young girl whose father keeps her at home in a poisonous garden)."
~The Boston Globe, 4-18-03 

"I wrote that song around 1985. It’s about the story "Rapaccini’s Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We didn’t realize it until it was completely recorded. I thought it was a Twilight Zone episode I’d seen on TV fifteen or twenty years ago. But it’s the story of this girl who’s raised in this beautiful Italian villa and her dad is this gardener and he raised all these poisonous plants and he like infused the poisons into her. It’s very hazy what I remember about the story. She became poisonous, so if anybody were to kiss her, they would die. And she could never leave, because she’s addicted to the poison. So everybody’s like, 'Wow, that’s an incredible story.' There’s a picture that Christine did, a drawing, and Chris is an incredible artist, probably twenty years ago, and she gave it to me, and it’s her, it’s the girl in the song. So I went back and forth about maybe calling it "Rapaccini’s Daughter," but I thought I’d have to get publishing rights and all that, so I left it "Running Through the Garden."
~Stevie Nicks, Performing Songwriter magazine, 2003


"I penned Silver Girl about Sheryl [Crow]... it's an ode to a lady rock star who's always on the road and has a very hard time having relationships and settling down. So it's also totally about me."
~Stevie Nicks, Uncut magazine, 5-03

"[Stevie wrote] Silver Girl, a semiautobiographical tune about ''being a silver girl lost in a high-tech world,'' with a further verse about how ''shadows move across her face, and you cannot see her soul unless she lets you.''
~The Boston Globe, 4-18-03

"It's an ode to the girl rock star inspired by Sheryl Crow, though it could be turned around and be about Avril Lavigne. I really feel Sheryl would have been much happier to be in my generation. She's not a coward, and she says what she feels."
~Stevie Nicks, USA Today, 4-28-03

"Silver Girl" is so classic you. It's like a warm blanket.
"Thank you. Thank you little Sheryl Crow for inspiring me to write that."
"The first couple of lines are definitely about Sheryl. And when I thought about writing a whole song to this poem I had called "Silver Girl," I thought, 'Well, this whole song could be about Sheryl and also about all the rock and roll women, be they Norah Jones, Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch, Stevie Nicks, Gwen Stefani, whoever.' That song is about the great parts, and also the difficulties, of being rock-star women."
What a nice burden.
Oh, yeah listen, I wouldn't trade it for a second. I'm never going to be one of those people that's going to say, 'You know what, this is just such a hassle,' because it is not a hassle. It's incredible. My life is incredible. I am a wild adventurerer. My life is totally exciting and it changes everyday. If I had dreamed this, I could not have written this down any better."
~Stevie Nicks, Newsweek, 5-28-03

"I wrote it about Sheryl Crow, someone who in many ways would have been much happier being part of that musical generation from 1965 to 1975. That song is sort of saying that it's harder to hold onto your integrity today. Sheryl's amazing. She never wanted to be judged on how she looked or what she wore, but she's been pulled into that--she's had no choice. And luckily she's gorgeous, because otherwise it would have been hard for her.
Sheryl Crow, of course, has been very open about her own admiration for you, and in fact, it's something I hear from a lot of young women artists I interview--you and Madonna keep coming up as icons.
"Well, don't you think that comes out of the songs? I'm certain that a 15-year-old could listen to "Silver Girl" and relate to it. And Madonna has the same thing. She writes incredible songs, which by the way she pulls out of the air. She is an amazing songwriter, besides being beautiful and challenging constantly."
~Stevie Nicks, Interview magazine, 6-03

"That's written about Sheryl Crow. In the song where it says, "She would have preferred the last generation," Sheryl absolutely would've preferred to be my age and to have been in our generation and to have been in her own Fleetwood Mac, more than to be in this generation. We all love her and try to take her along with us because we know that. It was very fun when she came to record with Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey likes her a lot and Mick loves her and John loves her, and she's one of our little adoptees. So the song is like an ode to the girl rock star, and ode to the question, "Is it possible to find somebody to love?" When you're rich and famous, it's very hard to find somebody. That's not taking away the hope, but it is stating that it's difficult. When Sheryl asked me, "Am I ever going to find anybody?" I say, "Well, who knows? If you want to attain a certain amount of fame, then you have to work all the time, which is what you do. And you don't hang out very much, you are on the move. You're in New York, you're in L.A., you're in Switzerland, you're in Vietnam, like a willow wisp. So it kind of depends on what you want to do." I kind of made a choice when I was Sheryl's age, when I was 40, that I didn't really want to be tied down. There are many times during my life that I could've been married and I could've had children, and I made the decision to not do it. So I don't know, with her; the only advice I can say is that "You live in the same realm of romantic possibility that I do."
~Stevie Nicks, Performing Songwriter magazine, 2003