Stevie Nicks &
STEVIE NICKS: Hello?
SARAH MCLACHLAN: Hi. I'm so bummed that we're not talking in person. Where are you now?
SN: In Phoenix.
SM: Oh, right on.
SN: So, Sarah McLachlan. First, I have something to tell you. I go to bed very late, and when I finally do go to bed, at about four o'clock in the morning, ifs the only time that I listen to the radio. And lots of times when I'm really asleep, something will pull me out of my sleep, and the amazing thing is it's often Fleetwood Mac. I'll hear the bass and drums, and it'll wake me up.
SN: Every once in a while somebody else will pull me out of my sleep. So this past February I'm sound asleep and all of a sudden this [sings] "And I will be the one." [SM takes a deep breath] Right?
SN: And I'm going, "I love this." The DJ said, "That was a new, fabulous thing from Sarah that's called Possession." So I wrote down: "Sarah. Possession." The next morning I said to my assistant, "You have to go get this record that's called Possession. I don't know if that's the name of the album or the song. All I know is that this lady's name is Sarah, which, of course, is my favorite name." And you have been a total part of my life since. I have to give you the greatest compliment that I could pay to anyone. You remind me so much of the first time that I went to the Fillmore in San Francisco. I was in a band that was the opening act on a show that had about seven acts in it. And there were red-velvet drapes, and you knew that Janis Joplin had sat in this dressing room, and there was something about your music that reminded me of how I had felt about Janis. When I heard your music, I thought, Somehow this woman reminds me of the incredible music that came out of San Francisco when all of us were so knocked out to be alive.
SM: Whoa! That's pretty heavy for me.
SN: Well, it was heavy for me, too, because I thought, Wow. She's ticked into an incredible thing here. Somehow she's new, yet she must be a very wise, old soul, because she's put it all together now, but she's still a little antique.
SM: Wow, that blows me away.
SN: When did you start doing this?
SM: I started singing professionally when I was nineteen. I got a record contract offered to me on a silver platter. A couple years previous, I was in a band, and the first gig we ever did, a guy from a record company saw me and wanted to sign me - when I was seventeen. But my mom kind of freaked out. And in retrospect, it was a really good thing, because I forgot about it and I went to art college for a year and was really feeling like I fit in someplace for the first time in my life. Then they came back to me and offered me a contract. I had never written a song up until that point.
SM: For years and years, I had been playing other people's songs. It was always my biggest dream to be up onstage performing. It always seemed intangible for me, because my mom and dad were academics and wanted me to go to university, so it was like a dream come true and a big push for me to start writing myself.
SN: I never in a million years expected it to happen to me. I took typing and shorthand, I went to five years of college and I quit and also got in humongous trouble from my parents for that, [SM laughs] I moved to Los Angeles with Lindsey Buckingham, which was totally unacceptable to my entire family. Not only was I living with somebody, but I quit school. "What are you gonna do? Be in the circus for the rest of your life?"
SM: Yeah. "When are you gonna get a real job?"
SN: Right. I also think that fame and fortune have a high price.
SM: Oh, no shit. Especially if you're not asking for the fame part. I just want to sing. I've only really become what you call a famous person in the past year. I'm lucky I had five years to get used to it in bits and pieces.
SN: The same thing with me. I was just singing with my then-boyfriend, Lindsey, and we had nothing, no money. And I worked. He didn't work. He furiously practiced his guitar every day, all day - and I backed that up. And then we got a call from a famous guy in a famous band who said, "Do you wanna join our band?" We actually went back and forth about it: "Well, maybe we don't. Maybe we just want to do what we're doing now." And between January and my birthday in May we became famous.
SM: Oh man!
SN: We got paid in cash, two hundred dollars a week each, so I had hundred-dollar bills everywhere. And since we hadn't spent any money in five years, we didn't even know how to spend money. And I was washing hundred-dollar bills through the wash and finding them crumpled and detergented out, and hanging them on the line with the rest of our stuff. Well, Sarah, are you happy?
SM: Me? Yeah. I've been out on the road for over a year now, so I'm sort of at my wit's end with life and the world. But I kind of have a happy magnet. I can't stand being depressed, so I work my ass off to get out of it as soon as possible.
SN: It's so pretty here that it's hard to be in a bad mood. The desert's very healing, and I have just been setting up a Bosendorfer piano, which is the pride of my life.
SM: Oh, you lucky thing, you!
SN: And for the first time I moved my piano into the living room and I'm building around that piano. It is the reason why this house is here, the reason I'm here. It's kind of like if this house burns down, you will see me -
SM: Dragging the piano! [laughs]
SN: I've actually had some serious fire drills on the road. And I stand in the middle of the room and think, Well, I have to get my tape, because there's stuff that I've written that is nowhere else. And I have to run down twenty-four flights of stairs with all my writing, all my tapes, a guitar, and two or three dolls - I collect dolls. I get to the lobby, and everybody's standing there, saying, "I can't believe you brought all this stuff with you." I'm saying, "Well, you can't believe it, but this is my life."
SM: When you're out on the road, you have so little that is familiar to you, so those things just become so important.
SN: And you travel on a bus?
SM: Yeah. We have two tour buses and we caravan.
SN: I had never gone on a bus in my life until this year. And I have never had such a great time in my whole life, because it was like getting on an incredible little traveling thing with my best friends.
SM: Oh yeah, it's like a candy store.
SN: I loved it so much that I was really sad to see that bus go. I thought, If I could just park this bus in front of my house and live on this and go in and shower and do my hair, then I could love this little space.
SM: I get nostalgic about touring after I've been away from it for a while. But on our European tour we'd been out for so long and together in such a confined space, we all started to regress. The last show of the tour in Paris was pretty frightening. I'd had laryngitis for about two weeks. I could hardly sing. Afterward we went to this restaurant and got rip-roaring drunk and made absolute fools of ourselves.
SN: Which is very easy to do over there, because everybody there drinks like it's water. When I joined Fleetwood Mac, I was twenty-seven years old and I had never ever drank, and these people were used to getting on an airplane at nine in the morning and ordering a double Bloody Mary.
SN: Pretty soon I realized I can't enjoy being with these people, because they look at the world through a different pair of sunglasses than I do. Lindsey and I were California girls and boys. We were a strange group of three English people and two American people, and that was very hand on the road, because we were Just so different. Christine [McVie] had Stevie Winwood carrying her books home from school, and Eric Clapton was best friends with Mick [Fleetwood] when they were sixteen, and I could not even relate to that. It was like, "You guys are too famous for me. And I'm getting really nervous."
SM: I can't be with people who are drinking unless I'm drinking, too. I hardly drink anyway.
SN: That's O.K., because we drank for you. We got it out of the way. You don't have to do it.
SM: Yeah, you people are why my mother had a bad attitude about the music industry. [laughs]
SN: I bet. Well, my parents had no sympathy for it all. My granddad was a country and western singer, and he left his family and took freight trains and traveled all over, playing In hers and supporting himself by playing pool. So my mom and dad thought, Well, there she goes. She's gonna walk down the same road as her grandfather. And luckily I became a little bit more successful than he was. [both laugh] You know what? I would love to meat you sometime and sit down and just talk about your music and my music and share some of the mistakes I made that maybe you don't need to make.
SM: Well, I'd definitely love to bend your ear some more, because I have had very little opportunity to talk to anybody who's been in any position such as mine. Especially a woman.
SN: You can always call me. I have been through Just about every possible thing that you could go through, and I've just about given up everything you could possibly give up for this. And I wonder sometimes if I made the right decisions. There are a lot of things that I would love to toll you that might make a difficult time a little easier for you. I'll give you my phone number so that you can call me when you're in the middle of Toronto, bummed out, and I can tell you that everything's gonna be all right.
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Last Updated - 13 June 2004
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