Stevie Nicks released her first solo album in 10 years on May 3. “In Your Dreams” is vintage Nicks: her raspy vocals wrap around swirling tales of love, both secret and sacred.
Produced by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, some of the album’s songs grew out of poems that Nicks had written years ago that she finally set to music with her collaborators. For Nicks, “In Your Dreams” is as definitive a work as Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” or her acclaimed 1981 solo album debut, “Bella Donna.” “I’m more proud of this than anything, really,” she says. Hitfix talked with Nicks about creating “In Your Dreams,” as well as lonely bus journeys and her love for Edgar Allan Poe.
You wrote first single, “Secret Love” in the ‘70s, but put it away and never played it for anyone. You’ve said now that you don’t even remember who it was about.
That song is a song that had I played it for Fleetwood Mac or for Lindsey [Buckingham], he really would have liked it because it’s a very simple kind of song. It’s very sophisticated in its simplicity. Christine [McVie] would have loved it, so I never played it for them.
At that point, in ‘75, I didn’t have a house in Phoenix because I was just in Fleetwood Mac and I was a waitress up until 1975 so I would send stuff to my mom. I put that in in a box and put it in my mom’s garage and I never took it out. It went out bootlegged somehow because the world has heard it because when I sent [my sister] home to look for it and [we] found it on Youtube. I don’t know whether to be thrilled or horrified by that. It’s possible when I first wrote it I left it out on a table and it said “Secret Love” on it and somebody took it and recorded it from cassette to cassette and put it back. I have no idea otherwise how it could have gotten out because I put it away. It was always a song that I didn’t want anybody to know about because whatever it was about, it was a secret.
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You wrote “For What It’s Worth” with Mike Campbell from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. How’d that come about?
I wrote that song in May in Hawaii in 2010. Dave went to England and got stuck in that volcano. So I said, “Well, I’m going to go to Hawaii then.” I went for three weeks. and the day before I came back, I said, I’m going to revisit Mike’s tracks, because he had sent me 10 tracks.
Right when [that track] came on, I just remembered this trip that I had taken in a bus across the United States and this person who had really helped me through this very difficult time. The song starts with the bell ringing like a train and I thought about the bus and, strangely enough, the night before that on PBS was a show about kids riding the rails in the 1940s, they were 14, 15,16 years old, they would catch the trains and go to other cities. I also had a grandfather who told me many stories of riding the rails because he did it, he used to ride the rails and play in bars and play pool.
So I was thinking about my granddad and riding the rails and I was thinking about my bus trip and then I started thinking about this man who had really been like an angel, stepping in and putting the pieces back together at a very bad time in my life and I just started singing this song. I yelled at my assistant, “Get me some paper! Quick!” We’d sent all our recording equipment home the day before so all we had was a camera so we just put it on film.
What gives you the most pleasure these days? Singing or writing?
I love to get on the stage and sing. I’m doing a song at the end of the show that I love, it’s a ballad. It’s the first time I’ve done a new ballad to end my show in 30 years. I feel like an opera singer when I sing it. It’s just me and the piano and the girls and I love that, that’s when I love to sing.
But most important for me is the writing. Nothing makes me happier even if i’m just writing...I have a friend who just lost her husband; I’ve probably written her five letters that are all 10 pages since this happened a couple of weeks ago and writing these letters to her is helping her and it’s also helping me. I sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and I’m trying to tell her all these stories about the guy, and for what it’s worth, try to keep her head above water and that really is the thing I love the most.
While many of these songs are based on poems you wrote, “Annabel Lee” is about the last Edgar Allen Poe ever wrote.
It’s my favorite poem of his and I found out later it’s Maya Angelou’s favorite poem too. I wrote it when I was real young and I wrote it on guitar. I made a demo of it in 1995 and I never thought I’d ever record it and I just decided somewhere last year, I said I think it’s time for “Annabel Lee.” And I brought it and showed it to Dave and he loved it and Glen Ballard loved it and we just said, let’s do it. We did it very much like the demo and it came out really rocking, it’s going to be a great stage song.
That song and the title track both really rock.
That song, it’s like a wild animal. It never stops. It’s so intense from the very beginning to the very last drum. I love that. Even if you took all the vocals off, it’s a musical phenomenon.
“New Orleans” celebrates your longing for that magical city. Even though you’re from Phoenix, it almost seems like you should be from there.
That’s one of my favorites [on the album]. I love it and I’m hoping I can figure out a way for it to mean something for them, maybe Habitat [for Humanity]. I’m going to try to come up with something.