On Buckingham Nicks, 44 years later

This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs. About six months ago, I submitted a proposal for a book on Buckingham Nicks for the 33 1/3 series. Nothing came of it, but I’m really proud of the work I did, and I love these words about this album that I love so much that I couldn’t just put them in a drawer, never to be read by anyone else again. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

“Let me ask you a question first,” producer Keith Olsen says not even three minutes into our first phone call. It’s a warm, beautiful spring day in Lake Tahoe; he’s spent most of it trying to place tom-tom drums on a mix he’s been sent. It’s been tedious work — like Photoshop with a bad picture, he explains — but he’s worked with worse. In the meantime, my call is a welcome distraction.

“Sure,” I respond, caught a little off-guard at how quickly he jumps into things. I thought I was the one who was supposed to be asking the questions.
“Why?” he asks.
“Why?” I repeat his question back.
“Yeah. Why? Why are you writing about Buckingham Nicks? Why do you love this album?”

It’s a simple question, one I don’t have a simple answer to.

I first heard Buckingham Nicks when I was 21 years old, nearly four decades after it was released. I was home from college for a weekend, and though I didn’t even have a turntable of my own yet, I was still trying to build my personal library to have something to play when I did. My father’s seemingly endless record collection that sat untouched in our basement was — and continues to be — a reliable and plentiful resource, one I can sift through countless times and still find something I hadn’t noticed before.

“You’ll really like that one,” my father said when I showed him my selections. He wasn’t singling out his copy of Berlin or Excitable Boy, not Some Girls or Combat Rock or More Songs About Buildings and Food. He pointed to the old, faded LP from 1973 with a wind-blown, half-naked, young unknown couple on the cover, the album that you’d likely never see on a Pitchfork list of must-have albums. The corners were tattered, the inner sleeve torn, but when I pulled it out, the record itself was in perfect form. “It’s Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham before they were in Fleetwood Mac.”

I had known about Buckingham Nicks for a few years, but it seemed like a myth. Later, I would find bootleg digital rips on the internet, but at the time, I only knew it as a cult favorite long out of print on vinyl, never made available officially on cassette, CD, or any streaming service, and rarely talked about. It seemed like the holy grail of records, one that you were either lucky enough to find and hear or not.

Maybe that’s part of its enduring magic. It’s elusive. There’s no instant gratification, no shrink-wrapped copy at Urban Outfitters or quick download on iTunes or stream on Spotify. It isn’t music that presents itself to you. It has to be found, the same way I found it digging through crates of old records in a damp basement one day.

Buckingham Nicks isn’t technically remarkable. Its music and lyrics, at times, sound juvenile, show how young Buckingham and Nicks are, both in life and in art. There’s no clear focus; some tracks could belong on an entirely different project. But, still, I fell in love with it. I fell in love with it because it’s pure. It’s raw. I fell in love with it because, when I hear it, I don’t hear Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, rock icons. I hear Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, two kids my age, completely in love with each other, completely determined to become successful, however success may present itself, and not quite sure of much else.

I fell in love with it because it was unexpected, because it changed the way I looked at the Buckingham Nicks we know now, the ones I was first introduced to as a teenager, who had, until then, lived in my mind simply as two parental figures of rock and roll:

Lindsey plays the role of the aging father: there to tell tales of hedonistic glory days — the stories you can listen to and think of the way you think of your own parents in their youth, both impressed and embarrassed that they were once that cool — with a newly-mellowed and romantic outlook. There’s less of a sting to his art now. He’s less bitter, more sure of himself, but always eager to keep a hand in the game, still wanting to understand what it is the kids are doing these days.

Stevie Nicks is the great maternal comfort, the self-proclaimed fairy godmother to thousands of women and girls who find safety and comfort in her music, whose voice consistently serves as a lighthouse when feel like you have lost your way. Her words offer their guidance and encouragement, whisper confidence in your ears, sing you a soft lullaby when you can’t sleep at night.

By and large, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks seem like two people who have, for the most part, figured their shit out.

But for 37 minutes, I can slip this record on and those figures disappear. For 37 minutes, they are two young 20-somethings, forever suspended in time and acetate as my peers. For 37 minutes, we are the same: kids masquerading as grown-ups while trying to figure out how to exactly be grown-ups, as we try to figure out how to be heard in this world, looking at others doing what we want to be doing with a mixture of admiration, envy, determination, and fear. For 37 minutes, they’re just two kids trying to make something happen, knowing where they wanted to be and still trying to figure out how to stumble towards a finish line that seems to keep move further and further away.

It’s odd to think of two icons as my peers, but when I’m lying on the floor of my small New York apartment, exhausted and exasperated and wondering “what am I doing with my life?” yet again, it’s comforting — and almost too easy — to fish this record, this record that my father bought as a 17-year-old kid and unexpectedly passed down to his 20-something daughter, out of its safe spot, put it on the turntable, and think of them as anything but.

Because it’s about life — life at a very specific, tumultuous time — and all of the passion and fear and frustration that comes with it. It’s about that feeling that every 23 or 24 or 25-year-old gets and they think that they’re the first to have ever felt it: Like life is both euphoric and terrifying. Like your brain is moving a million miles a minute and everything is happening and there’s so much to do, but you don’t have the time to do it all. Like you just can’t stop thinking about time. Time is of the essence. I’ve got nothing but time, no time for living. There’s too much time. There’s not enough.

It’s about being that age where you realize that everything you’ve been told as a kid — that you are good, that you are talented, that you can do anything you want if you just work hard — might not be true. You get out in the real world and realize you’ve got competition. Suddenly, life is a race and you’re looking around at everyone else trying to do what you’re doing — so many different kinds of people trying to be the same — and you question if you’re good enough, question if you can keep up. Races are run; some people win, some people always have to lose — and you’re praying you’re not the latter.

It’s about making decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Do you always trust your first initial feeling? Special knowledge holds true, bears believing. It’s about the uncertainty of it all, about wanting independence, but wishing for a little bit of guidance once you suddenly get it. It’s about the overwhelming love you have for those rare people you find who stick by your side in the trenches — I turned around, and the water was closing all around me like a glove, like the love that finally found me.

In a few years, this feeling may no longer be true. It is not lost on me that I am now the same age Stevie was when Buckingham Nicks was released; it’s not lost on me how many times I’ve found myself inadvertently using her timeline as a barometer of my own success. It’s okay that I’m not exactly where I want to be just yet: Look where Stevie was at 23, 24, 25; don’t worry about it too much — Stevie didn’t even join Fleetwood Mac until she was 27.

In a few years, I will likely become like every other adult I’ve spoken about this album with: forever unable to separate it from this specific time in my life, forever unable to listen to it and hear anything other than my youth. I’ll probably hear memories. I’ll probably think “God, was anyone so young?”

Sometimes you love things so intensely for no reason other than because they have become a part of you, and maybe that’s why I’ve come to call Buckingham Nicks my favorite album. It’s not that it’s ahead of its time or profound or perfect. It’s just that, as much as I have wanted to crawl inside its world and stay there, it’s actually managed to do the opposite: it’s latched its claws in my skin, dug in, and embedded itself in my DNA.

*****

“So, we are going to play for you the oldest song we’ve ever played on stage. It’s from the Buckingham Nicks album and—”

Stevie Nicks is on her 19th solo date of 2016. The majority of the audience at Madison Square Garden have no idea that this isn’t her usual greatest hits tour. Most of them came for “Edge of Seventeen” and “Stand Back.” They are blissfully unaware that this tour is different; they haven’t trolled Twitter or message boards or set list sites. They don’t know that, for the two months she’s been on the road, Nicks has been filling the night with deep cuts — one, in particular, deeper than others. And yet, for such a little known album, the mere mention of it draws such screams from the crowd that she has to pause before she can continue.

Nicks continues that this song was intended to be the single, but the record didn’t sell well, so it, and the potential single, was dropped.* “We never played it. We went and joined Fleetwood Mac and we never played this song again, ever.”

In 1973, Nicks was a maid and a waitress, driving a car that was constantly breaking down and perpetually without reverse, trying to support herself and Lindsey Buckingham. Forty-three years later, as a 68-year-old woman — not a Beyoncé or a Rihanna or an Ariana Grande — she sells out Madison Square Garden as a headliner, one of few women in her demographic to do so as a solo headliner in this decade,** and she performs “Crying in the Night” live for the first time since it was recorded 43 years before.

“There were a lot of firsts with them,” Keith Olsen says.

Olsen had not heard from Buckingham and Nicks since Fritz’s demo session at Sound City in 1970 until he got a call from Stevie nearly a year later. Lindsey came down with mononucleosis and quit the band; Stevie had been nursing him back to health, she explained. They had begun writing songs together, cut their own demos on a four track machine, and wanted to visit Olsen in LA to play them for him.

“They came to my house with their four track machine and their little mixer and they set it up and pressed play and I was astounded. I said, ‘Yeah. Yeah, I think we can get a deal.’ So, I took those demos and I started shopping around. I got them, Waddy Wachtel, and Jorge Calderon all signed to one thing,” Olsen says.

In the span of six weeks, Olsen secured a $35,000 budget and a backing band that would find itself switched up more than once throughout the recording process. Wachtel was a staple, lending additional guitar parts and harmonies. Ronnie Tutt and Jerry Scheff, known at the time as Elvis’s rhythm section, snuck into sessions when they had spare time, but eventually had to leave to tour, only to be replaced with musicians like Warren Zevon collaborator Jorge Calderón and Jim Keltner, who had been building a reputation as a go-to session player for everyone from George Harrison to Carly Simon. With a brand new Neve console arriving at Sound City around the same time, Nicks, Buckingham, and Olsen were ready to start recording.

The sounds that have come out of Sound City studios defy the looks of it — even before it became better known for being a grimey, run-down hole-in-the-wall with stained brown shag carpets and chipping paint. For starters, it simply wasn’t built to be a studio. The layout has been compared to a barn — empty and cavernous, too open to contain sound. Somehow, the studio has produced an impressive list of albums, from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedos to Nirvana’s Nevermind, all recorded on the same magical analog Neve console that captured drum tracks like no other could and gave warmth and depth to an otherwise empty space.

Buckingham Nicks was the first album ever recorded on that Sound City console. The very first one,” Olsen explains. “I mean, it came out of the box, we plugged everything in that afternoon and into the early evening and it looked like everything was okay. I called in the guys and we cut ‘Crying in the Night.’ When we came in and listened back at the first playback, I remember Lindsey looking at me with a smile on his face saying, ‘Oh my God!’ Because that’s the Neve console. That was that English sound that we wanted to get really bad and there it was.”

Given the album’s stature as not only the first music recorded on the now iconic Neve board, but as the springboard for Buckingham and Nicks’s future careers with Fleetwood Mac, the question of how it has possibly remained “lost” work for 44 years astounds even their closest friends and colleagues.

“I don’t know that anybody really has an answer,” says Lori Nicks, Nicks’s friend, sister-in-law, and backup singer who first met Buckingham and Nicks in 1973 when visiting the studio with then-boyfriend and promoter Gordon Perry, and has worked with Nicks since 1978. “It’s the $64,000 question. I think that Keith would probably have a version of what happened or why it hasn’t happened yet. I think Lindsey would. I think Stevie would. And then their managers, probably, would have something to say about it, as well.”

It turns out, that’s exactly how it is: everyone involved with Buckingham Nicksmeets the question of its still unreleased status with a different take, the only similarity between stories being a fuzziness recalling details of deals worked out decades ago and uncertainty of what has happened to the rights or the master tracks or the personal and professional relationships since then.

There are a slew of unanswered questions, but, at the end of the day, what matters most is this: This is a love story. This is a love story in its earliest form, before it burnt to the ground and was rebuilt and branded as a Love Story™. A love story about two kids from San Francisco, new to LA, bouncing checks at IHOP and falling behind on their rent, trying to make it as a duo, both in love and in music. A love story about Buckingham Nicks before they were Buckingham Nicks, America’s favorite musical soap opera.

This is a love story about love in its rawest, most genuine form, the kind that still lives on today when Buckingham Nicks, no longer a couple in real life, join hands and play one on stage, built from 50 years of shared history, a lowercase love story, there to give a sliver of veracity to their stage performances.

This is a love story about youth, about what it’s like to feel very young and very old at the same time, about the love you have for that time period both when you’re in it and when you’re looking back.

This is a love story about the kind of music that rattles your cage, that may not be the best album made, but crawls under your skin and lives there somewhere next to your heart. This is a love story about music that requires playing at every important moment in your life, music that makes you feel like someone else knows exactly how you feel.

Mostly, though, it’s a love story about a lost story. The Fleetwood Mac we know today, the band that has given pop culture not only a wealth of music, but a wealth of soap opera-worthy drama, would not exist without Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Buckingham Nicks was just the beginning, the catalyst for everything to come. Yet little known is about it, both its creation and its legacy. For years, and for what seems like years to come, its significance has been reduced to footnotes or mere paragraphs in articles and biographies that focus more on gossip, sensationalism, and rumors than music.

Time moves forward relentlessly and though the music itself is not finite, the vinyl that exclusively houses it is. One day the few mentions the album manages to get now will become shorter and shorter. The opportunities for future generations to discover the album, to fall in love with or identify with some bit of it and be curious about its story, will become increasingly rare. It falls to us to tell this story now, before time extinguishes too much of its light.

*Rare copies of a single version of “Crying in the Night” with “Stephanie” as the B-side have made occasional appearances online, and once, a few feet away from me at Bleecker Street Records, selling for the reasonable price of $120, which a not-so-reasonable 22-year-old me nearly bought before a more responsible 22-year-old reminded me that things like rent and student loan bills exist. 

**Being a woman over the age of 60 to play as a solo artist Madison Square Garden is a rarity in and of itself. Since 2010, only Nicks, Bette Midler, Blondie (co-headlining with Morrissey), and Patti Smith (supporting Neil Young and Crazy Horse) have done so. 

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Introducing the ’77 Music Club podcast

Last Halloween, my best friend, Carly Jordan, had an idea: what if we turned all the time we spent analyzing every little thing about albums for fun and turn it into a podcast? Every other week, we’d discuss a different album and share our unconventional love of older music; we’d try to bridge a generation gap; we’d try to carry the torch.

After a few months of questioning if it was an appropriate time to release a music podcast, it’s here. In the coming months you’ll hear us talk about a variety of albums, from Betty Davis to Talking Heads to Big Star. But to start, we kicked off with our favorite (obviously) — this little known nugget from Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham from their days before Fleetwood Mac — because how could we not? Sneak a peak of each post below and be sure to follow (details below) for more.

77-music-club-buckingham-nicksTwo years before joining Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had no idea what lay ahead of them. They were just two kids who wanted to make great music — and they just happened to be in love.

A cult favorite of Fleetwood Mac fans, this album is curiously still only available on vinyl. While bootlegs of the album can be streamed on YouTube, it has never been (officially) released on cassette, CD, or to streaming services like Spotify. This is perhaps part of the attraction to the album — this is music that doesn’t outright present itself; it must be found.

In this episode, we discuss why we both call this album our favorite of all time, what makes it unique, and why it still takes our breath away hundreds of listens later.

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43 years later, the significance of Buckingham Nicks belies its obscurity

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I was 21 years old when I heard Buckingham Nicks for the first time. I was home from school for a weekend, looking through my father’s vast record collection, when he pulled out an old, faded LP from 1973. The corners were tattered, the inner sleeve torn, but the record itself was in perfect form. “I think you’ll like this one,” he said. “It’s Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham before they were in Fleetwood Mac.”

Of course, I had known of the album, but it seemed almost like a myth, with its cult-like vinyl-only status. For my father to just hand it over nonchalantly seemed almost too easy, almost unreal. Just holding it in my hands, looking at the cover — a young, beautiful couple not much older than me, with their long, flowing hair and naked bodies the epitome of the free-spirited Laurel Canyon era California I had become obsessed with as a child — I immediately fell in love.

I think my dad maybe had an ulterior motive. I think he knew that I would go down the rabbit hole, as I am prone to do, and devour everything I could about the album and all of the people behind it. I think he knew how badly I needed to hear its story, maybe more than I needed to hear the music.

I was about to graduate college with a journalism degree. I had made four years of sacrifices so I could write as much as possible, and suddenly it all seemed like it was for nothing. I realized I couldn’t afford to take the entry level, $25K salary gigs my peers were scooping up if I wanted to stay in New York. I hated anyone who told me that I was a good writer, that I was a talented, desirable graduate, because in my mind, I had failed.

The more I listened to Buckingham Nicks, and the more I learned about it, the more I felt like I had crawled inside its world. I felt a kindred spirit with them. I felt hope. They were good. And they failed. They made sacrifices and worked and struggled and poured their lives into creating 37 beautiful minutes of music, and in the end, they were dropped like it was nothing. It would be a couple of years until they found success. I needed that album, and I needed its story.

In the preface to his book “Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis,” Warren Zanes writes:

“Records that last, those special few that refuse dust and return to the player again and again even as the world around them changes, finally become, in some odd way, collaborations between the listener and the listened to. […] The recordings that go beyond that level of correspondence become emblems of more than just one passage in our lives, they become — and I hate to make it all too lofty, but here it can’t be helped — emblems of us, artifacts of self-definition. Such special albums rattle our cages again and again (and sometimes we use them, with limited success, to rattle the cages of others). It’s hard to say why. But that’s what they do.”

That’s what Buckingham Nicks does to me. I still get lost in the building, frenzied guitar solo in “Frozen Love.” I still get sucked into the hypnotic ‘60s slow burn that is “Races Are Run,” and I still find myself falling in love again and again with the simplicity of “Stephanie.” But for me, this album has become about so much more than just the music. It’s stuck with me. It’s rattled my cage.

I turned 25 a few months ago and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I’m now the same age Stevie was when Buckingham Nicks was released. I realized how many times I’ve inadvertently used her timeline as a barometer of my own success. It’s okay that I’m not exactly where I want to be just yet — Stevie didn’t join Fleetwood Mac until she was 27. I have a friend who says 2016 is her 1973. I’m sure we’re not alone in thinking that way. That’s because Buckingham Nicks is an album that has that rare ability to both reflect the time period in which it was made and transcend it.

Because it’s about life — life at a very specific, tumultuous time — and all of the passion and fear and frustration that comes with it. It’s about that feeling that every 22 or 23 or 24-year-old gets and they think that they’re the first to have ever felt it: Like you’re very old and very young at the same time. Like life is both euphoric and terrifying. Like your brain is moving a million miles a minute and everything is happening and there’s so much to do, but you don’t have the time to do it all. Like you just can’t stop thinking about time. Time is of the essence. I’ve got nothing but time, no time for living. There’s too much time. There’s not enough.

It’s about being that age where you realize that everything you’ve been told as a kid — that you are good, that you are talented, that you can do anything you want if you just work hard — might not be true. You get out in the real world and realize you’ve got competition. All of the sudden, life is this giant race and you’re looking around at everyone else trying to do what you’re doing — so many different kinds of people trying to be the same — and you question if you’re good enough, question if you can keep up. Races are run; some people win, some people always have to lose — and you’re praying you’re not the latter.

It’s about making decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Do you always trust your first initial feeling? Special knowledge holds true, bears believing. It’s about the uncertainty of it all, about wanting independence, but wishing for a little bit of guidance once you suddenly get it. It’s about the overwhelming love you have for those rare people you find who stick by your side in the trenches — I turned around, and the water was closing all around me like a glove, like the love that finally found me.

I know this because I am in this period of life right now. It’s a funny feeling — feeling like two icons are your peers. But when I listen to this album, that’s how I feel. We’re just some kids masquerading as grown-ups while we try to figure out how to exactly be grown-ups, as we try to figure out how to be heard in this world, looking at others doing what we want to be doing with a mixture of admiration, envy, determination, and fear.

I wonder if I will forever love this album partly because of that, because it came into my world at such a distinct time in my life that lines up with theirs. I have a feeling that years from now, when I listen to it, I’ll hear memories. I’ll be able to immediately remember this very specific feeling tied to this very specific age that we are right now. I’ll probably find it romantic in hindsight. I’ll probably find it a little bit funny. I’ll probably think “God, was anyone ever so young?” This is where part of me wonders what it’s like to be them right now, what it will be like to look back on the things I’m writing at this age with more than 40 years of perspective.

I’ve said before that a great thing about some music’s ability to transcend time is that part of an artist will forever be preserved as the same age they were in the original recording. But there’s something to be said about the benefit of live performances or re-recordings or re-releases. They allow songs to change and evolve as time goes on (like how the “Landslide” of today has a different meaning and poignancy than the “Landslide” of 1975). They give new life to music, introduce it to new audiences.

That’s not the case with Buckingham Nicks. That may never be the case. Buckingham Nicks likes to talk about Buckingham Nicks, but they never really seem to do anything about Buckingham Nicks. Of the 10 songs, only three* have seen life after 1976, and those performances have been rare. Its elusive vinyl-only status, romantic as it is, is incredibly limiting; it makes it so much harder for people to discover organically. I’ve lost count of the number of times they’ve talked about a re-release only to see nothing materialize.

I wonder if time will forever be frozen on this album, only allowing the songs to live in their original form, forever performed by two 20-somethings. Part of that seems poetic to me, but a lot of it makes me sad. I wonder what will happen once the finite (and relatively small) number of physical copies are gone, what will happen when the few digital bootlegs get slapped with copyright claims and disappear. My father gave me his copy of the record. What will I give my daughter?

I find myself thinking about legacy a lot lately; I’ve been listening to the finale of Hamilton on repeat for a week. Legacy is a key theme of the show, something Alexander Hamilton was obsessed with, something that Lin-Manuel Miranda has made a lot of people reconsider. What is the narrative, and what is our role in it? Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how millions of people know who Fleetwood Mac is, how Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks are household names, yet only a small fraction of those people know about this album. They were a rags-to-riches success story that is so rare these days, one of the last few to really fulfill the American Dream. This album was the beginning. It was the catalyst for everything that was to come. It’s important. It’s more than just a footnote; it’s a story in and of itself that’s so often ignored. Years from now, what will it become of it? I don’t really know. All I know is that it’s a story I care too much about to let die.

*“Stephanie” was included in Lindsey’s last solo tour in 2012. “Don’t Let Me Down Again” was played sans Lindsey on Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 Tango In The Night tour; it popped up once on the 2004 Say You Will tour only to disappear again. “Crystal” was re-recorded by Stevie in 1998.

Buckingham Nicks

I wrote about my favorite album for That Eric Alper’s feature about the music and entertainment industry’s most loved albums: 

Carrie Courogen, Social Media Manager at Condé Nast Entertainment, and writer for her blog, Bed Crumbs:
Buckingham Nicks, Buckingham Nicks
Before they joined Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were just two kids who moved to LA together with a shared dream to be rock stars, but for a long time, they really struggled. They recorded this labor of love album as a duo thinking they’d make it big, but instead, it got mixed reviews and was dropped after a few months. Buckingham Nicks remains elusive and relatively unknown primarily because, aside from rips on YouTube or bootleg CDs on the internet, it’s technically unavailable in any format other than vinyl. The only reason this album is considered a collector’s find and not a dollar bin regular these days is because of a phone call on New Year’s Eve, 1974 — but that’s another story. My copy once belonged to my father, who bought it as a 17 year old kid who heard it at a friend’s house and wanted his own copy. I don’t think he anticipated that he would have a daughter who loved music, let alone one who looked to Stevie Nicks as one of her heroes. He eventually let me have it and it was the first record I played when I got a turntable of my own. It’s interesting to hear what themes and styles are present that end up occurring in their later work, but I also marvel at the strength of the music and lyrics Buckingham Nicks crafted when they were so young. To me, the instrumental “Stephanie” is what total love and infatuation sounds like, and everything about “Frozen Love” — from the lyrics to the frenzied guitar solo — gives me chills.

Happy Birthday, Stevie Nicks! 8 Reasons Why She Should Be Your Rock & Roll Heroine (Even If You Didn’t Grow Up With Her)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

This piece originally appeared on Bustle.

Rock and roll icon Stevie Nicks is having a millennial moment. Most of her discography may have been made before any millennials were born, but there’s no doubt that we’re witnessing a Stevie Nicks pop culture renaissance. The past year has been busy for Nicks: she’s appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone for the first time in 30 years, popped up as a guest mentor on The Voice, released a new record, and reunited with Fleetwood Mac forone of 2014’s highest grossing tours. Not to mention the fact that it’s hard to walk into an Urban Outfitters without seeing her face, whether on a Fleetwood Mac record or a new biography.

Ask your mom who Stevie Nicks is, and she might fill you in on the heyday of rock and roll decadence, her signature twirls, and famous love affairs. (My mom likes to dreamily recount the days of her youth, when she dressed like Nicks in flowing black chiffon and platform boots.) But Nicks is not just an influence for your parents’ generation.

If you’re a millennial woman looking for advice on life, love, work, and everything in between, look no further. Here are eight reasons why Nicks might just be your new (to you, anyway) rock and roll heroine:

She takes her role as ”fairy godmother of rock and roll” very seriously.

Nicks has been a source for young women rockers since the ’90s, with famous friends like Sheryl Crowe and Courtney Love citing her as a source for inspiration and advice not only musically, but in life, as well. These days she serves as a mentor to the next generation of gold dust women, from Vanessa Carlton (she’s given her input on many of Carlton’s albums and even officiated her wedding in 2013) to Tavi Gevinson to the sisters of Haim.

And she encourages everyone to follow their dreams.

“If you have a dream and you believe in it, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t have that dream,” Nicks tells audiences while prefacing the song “Gypsy” on the current Fleetwood Mac tour.

The story is a highlight of the concert, as she recalls the “vision of success” she had the first time she visited the Velvet Underground, a famed clothing store in San Francisco that famous female rockers like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick frequented. She spent most of her twenties struggling with then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham to make it, working as a waitress and cleaning lady to get by. But she stuck with her passion, and urges everyone to do the same. In today’s crazy world, it’s refreshing to hear someone so successful encourage you to dream and not settle.

She’s open about her past and drug use.

Part of the allure of Fleetwood Mac was their infamous drug use throughout most of the ‘70s. But Nicks is known for having burned a hole through her septum through excess, and she isn’t shy to admit it. She also doesn’t sugarcoat her eight year addiction to prescription drug Klonopin following cocaine detox.

“Save your money,” she advises anyone on a similar path (via an interview on OWN), “because it’s gonna cost you $50,000 to go to rehab, because you will have to go or you will die.”

She doesn’t apologize for being single or childless.

There is a notion that, should a woman choose a career over a relationship or children, her life is incomplete. Nicks is very vocal about her decision to “follow her muse” and not let a man tie her down, inspiring other women to acknowledge that it’s not selfish to admit they might not be up for the whole wife-and-mother thing. As she told the New York Times in 2014:

It would be fun if I could find a boyfriend who understood my life and didn’t get his feelings hurt because I’m always a phone call away from having to leave in two hours for New York or a phone call away from having to do interviews all day long. It’s not very much fun to be Mr. Stevie Nicks. […] If it were to happen to me I’d be thrilled. But when I’m 90 years old and sitting in a gloriously beautiful beach house somewhere on this planet with five or six Chinese Crested Yorkies, surrounded by all my goddaughters who will at that point be middle-aged, I’ll be just as happy.

She’s a fervent feminist and speaks out about of women’s rights.

Nicks is pretty fearless, and one thing she’s definitely not afraid of is the F word: feminism. The singer rose to fame in the ‘70s, when rock and roll was mostly a boy’s club, and she pushed to change the perception that women should be treated as anything less than.

“We fought very hard for feminism, for women’s rights,” Nicks said at a SXSW talk in 2013. “What I’m seeing today is a very opposite thing. I don’t know why, but I see women being put back in their place. And I hate it. We’re losing all we worked so hard for, and it really bums me out.”

She’s also stated her support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, saying that there are no great standout male candidates in either party — Hillary’s “the one.” Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” was Bill’s campaign song in 1992, so maybe we’ll see Nicks back Clinton with a tune or two.

She remains authentic and true to herself.

The legendary singer lives in a world of magic and mysticism that she has created. You will never catch her passing up her signature black chiffon, ornate shawls, and platform boots for jeans and a tee shirt. She will never stop writing about witches and ghosts and fairytale romances, either.

Nicks created an image and persona in 1975 and sure, trends may come and go, and she may be mocked for it, but she has stood by her unique style and work for 40 years. Her witchy, gypsy look is in again, having inspired the latest collections from designers like Chloe and Reem Acra.

She’s still breaking down creative walls.

Kim Kardashian may have just released a book of selfies, but Nicks beat her to it. Nicks has been taking elaborate self portraits since 1975. Most of them went into shoeboxes, never to be seen again. That is, until October, when Nicks unveiled an entire gallery show of stunning old Polaroids to accompany the release of an album of new studio recordings of old demos from the same time period.

At 67, she shows that women “of a certain age” aren’t going anywhere.

If anything, the past few years have been some of the biggest and busiest in Nicks’s career. She’s been honored as a BMI Icon for her songwriting, given a USO Achievement Awardfor her charity work with recovering soldiers, cameoed on American Horror Story, released a new album, and embarked on a year-long world tour with Fleetwood Mac.

For several nights a week, she powers through a three hour set list, twirling, dancing, and shaking her tambourine without pause. She may be 67 today, but don’t expect her to slow down anytime soon.

Images: Getty Images (7)

Rock On, Gold Dust Woman

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This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

In 1981, Nicks joined former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch at the Roxy in LA for a taped concert where, accompanied by Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood, she put on an electric performance of “Gold Dust Woman.” It’s a captivating performance: energetic, slightly aggressive. Gone are the leotards and flowing chiffon, replaced with a miniskirt, button down blouse, and legwarmers. Nicks is more fun-loving rock and roll than mysterious and witchy as she dances around the stage shaking her tambourine and mimicks Fleetwood’s bongo playing.

At the end of the song, Nicks thanks the crowd, telling them with genuine shock and appreciation, “They never let me play ‘Gold Dust Woman’ that long, ever!” The performance was just over 7 minutes, roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds longer than the studio version featured on Rumours.

Cut to 2013. Nicks reprises the classic track for Fleetwood Mac’s 2013 world tour, bringing with it the first bits of what will come to be known as the “Crackhead Dance.” It’s a brief moment of interpretive dance where Nicks sways and staggers as the rest of the group jams behind her. This is only the beginning.

When the Mac regrouped with Christine McVie in 2014 to embark on their current On With The Show tour, the Crackhead Dance began to take on a life of its own. The dance has extended to span two to three minutes. Nicks bangs her head, waves her arms wildly above her, doubles over and shakes her entire body as if she’s being exorcised. Often, Nicks becomes taken by adrenaline and pushes herself to the point of physical pain.

“It’s like I could twist my head right off my body. […] And I really hurt my back. I need ice every single morning when I wake up. I go ‘You gold-dusted out last night,’” she told Rolling Stone in 2015.

It’s dark. Heavy. Transfixing. But most of all, it’s self-indulgent. Nicks isn’t only portraying the terrifying hypnotism of just any drug addict witnessed second-hand; in a way, she’s portraying herself. When she’s shaking on stage like a mild seizure, she’s releasing her past demons, setting them free before returning to the woman she has become.

Today’s “Gold Dust Woman” spans an average of 11 minutes. Each time that I’ve witnessed it live, I think back to that 1981 performance and how one song — and one woman — can evolve so much over time.

“Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby – you should see me now,” Nicks now coos in the coda. If only that 1981 Nicks could see herself now. She’s older. Wiser. Sober. More confident. She’s no longer thanking people for allowing her to stretch a song to such lengths, surprised that her bandmates have acquiesced. She gets on stage every night and shimmies to her heart’s desire, a force to be reckoned with.

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac at the Prudential Center (Newark, NJ)

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This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.
Concert photo gallery here. Additional images and video here.

Follow my 2014-2015 Fleetwood Mac groupie adventures here.

I wanted to write something eloquent and concise for everyone to sum up what is likely to be my final Fleetwood Mac concert of this tour. This isn’t quite either, but I’m still trying to gather my thoughts and it’s the best I can do.

A lot of people have been asking me how I’ve done it. How have I gone to so many shows (5!), and how have I gotten to the third row once, and to the front twice. A lot of is adopting a carpe diem attitude and credit card bills. A lot of it is accepting nosebleed seats, because just being in the same room is enough. A lot of it is luck — my Washington D.C. show and this past show in Newark were because my dear friends (Noel and Krissy) had extra tickets. Luck of knowing people who know how to get to the front. Luck of getting there yourself.

A lot of it is confidence, which I have never really have an abundance of, but I’ve found lately that I’ve been faking it much better. What can I say? I learned from Stevie: “When we walk into the room, we have to walk in with a big attitude. Which does not mean a snotty conceited attitude. But it means like we have to float in like goddesses, because that is how we want to be treated.”

When I blew past security last night with Krissy and Cathy, that’s exactly what I did. We had tickets in two different sections on the side, but we walked right down to the floor without looking back. I won’t go into detail on how we got to the front, because there is enough controversy surrounding this practice or “policy” as there is. What I will say is this: We got taken up to the front because we had confidence. We knew we belonged up there.

As far as the concert review goes, I really can’t delve deeply into it. I can’t be as objective as I wish I could be, because, frankly, it was overwhelming. I can say that, musically, two weeks ago at Madison Square Garden was better, though not much more so. Newark wasn’t bad, it was just different. Lindsey hammed it up more last night; “Gold Dust Woman,” though still a mind blowing experience, was not nearly as intense. “Tusk” dragged a little.

The hardest part of writing about last night is trying to explain how it was the most emotionally raw I have ever seen Fleetwood Mac, have ever seen any performers so close, actually. How it felt several times like unintentionally intruding on private moments. How it felt like I should apologize for invading their privacy, close the door, and creep away. And it’s hard to describe to anyone who wasn’t there or who hasn’t experienced a similar event.

Towards the beginning, something felt a little off. From my vantage point, it seemed like Stevie’s exuberance was a little phoned in, like their energy levels were dipping, but I brushed it off. I was at concerts in the fall that fell on the second or third day in a string of dates, concerts where the dynamic between Lindsey and Stevie was cold and distant, where it was too easy to tell they were mad. “They’re just tired,” I thought.

But during the acoustic set, things changed — fast. First, Stevie choked up during the introduction to “Landslide,” which was dedicated to Matthew Anderson, someone named Andrea (?), and Robin. Cause for emotion: check. But I remembered being there for her previous introduction to her late best friend and godson, and it just wasn’t the same. At the end, Krissy, who was nearer to her than I, leaned across the crowd and shouted: “She was crying. Did you see? She was crying.”

The tears continued into “Never Going Back Again.” By then I could see. They aren’t as clear in my low-res iPhone video, but you can hear it in her voice. The struggle to make it through. When it was over, she wiped her eyes and shook her head, her hair covering her face. She stood with her head down, turned away from the crowd, in front of Mick’s drum set as techs brought out the mini drum kit and everyone moved around her. No one consoled her, and she didn’t budge until the lights came up and “Over My Head” began.

The rest of the show went on with little pause for concern. Until the encores. Buckingham Nicks walked out hand in hand, the grip a little tighter than usual, as if one were clinging to the other for support. Suddenly, Lindsey pulled Stevie into a slow dance, which she quickly refuted. Things were definitely different, confusing, even.

“Silver Springs” was intense, to say the least. As it picked up, again, tears glistened on Stevie’s face as she buckled down and wailed into the microphone. Cathy and I literally held onto each other.

After the five of them rose from their bows, she gave Lindsey a knowing look, as if to say “I can’t.” He nodded understandably, and as soon as the applause died down, instead of her ritual “Christine has been gone for 16 years, thank you for bringing back our girl,” final speech, she — and everyone but Mick — bolted off stage.

As if the show wasn’t emotional enough, two girls approached me separately and told me they recognized me from here. They complimented my photos, thanked me for writing Daughters of the Moon, and told me how much it meant to them. This has never happened to me before. I may or may not have cried. (Hint: I definitely did.)

I’ll never say I’m never going back again for this leg, but if this is it for the On With The Show tour, I went out, not with a fizzle, but a bang.