Put simply, Stevie Nicks has done it all. With a string of hugely
successful albums to her credit 1 as a solo artist and as a member of the
legendary Fleetwood Mac, plus countless SRO concert tours around the world,
Stevie has remained one of rock music's most compelling and beloved voices.
The fact that she has nothing to prove certainly doesn't mean she takes her work any less seriously, or approaches it with any less passion than she ever did. For evidence of that, one need look no further than "STREET ANGEL," Stevie's sixth solo album.
"l feel excited every time l do a new project," Stevie says. "l look forward to doing something different, meeting new people, making new music." As for "STREET ANGEL," she adds, "I'm totally excited about this new record, l can't wait for people to hear it. l sit in my living room and crank up the old surround sound, and it instantly gets me on my feet."
That's not surprising, considering the quality of Stevie's own writing and vocal performances on the album, as well as the tasty contributions of her collaborators. Produced by Stevie and Thom Panunzio (who has worked with the likes of U2, Bob Seger, and Joan Jeff), "STREET ANGEL" features such stellar players as keyboardist Benmont Tench (from Tom Perry's Heartbreakers) and guitarists Mike Campbell (another Heartbreaker), Andy Fairweather Low, former Eagle Bernie Leadon, and Waddy Wachtel; not to mention special guest stars Bob Dylan and David Crosby. All in all, "STREET ANGEL" was well worth the wait.
In the two plus years since the release of 'TIMESPACE: THE BEST OF STEVIE NICKS," she has kept busy with various projects: writing, painting, and taking photographs; participating in the compilation of "25 YEARS THE CHAIN" (the 1992 Fleetwood Mac four CD set that included the new Stevie Nicks song, "Paper Doll"); and preparing for her final appearance with Fleetwood Mac a performance of "Don't Stop" at President Clinton's January 1993 Inauguration. During all of that time, Stevie recalls, "l was thinking about 'STREET ANGEL.' l already had the title song in mind, for instance; l wanted it to be about people whose dreams have gone bad. l had an idea of a Charles Dickens style character, a homeless woman who doesn't want to leave the streets, and the rich man who loves her."
If 'TIMESPACE," a compilation album with three new songs, marked what Stevie calls "the end of an era," then it follows that "STREET ANGEL" is the beginning of a new one. And it is... but with a twist. "In a lot of ways, l think this record goes back to 'BELLA DONNA,' she notes. "There's much more emphasis on guitar than on synthesizers."
Two songs on "STREET ANGEL" a eliminating the ones that we thought are actually among Stevie's oldest; 'Destiny" and "Rose Garden" were written well over twenty years ago. "Actually, I've tried to record those songs a few times over the years," she explains. "l knew they were good songs; songs that people would be able to relate to. But there would always be a little voice that told me it wasn't the right time. So this time l just said, 'Let's try again -- let's see if this group of musicians can do it.' And they did."
'I started with over 40 songs," says Stevie about the genesis of "STREET ANGEL." "We cut it down to about 17, all of which we actually recorded before going through that inevitable, painful process of didn't fit." The 13 songs finally chosen for the album tend to fit Stevie's "back to the basics" idea for this outing: straight forward verse chorus verse structures, as opposed to the more open style of many of her earlier songs, both solo and with Fleetwood Mac.
"We spent a lot of time on the arrangements," notes Stevie. "We spent a good six, seven weeks sitting together in a room in my house before we ever went into the studio. There were times when I'd be going, 'But why does it need a chorus? Why can't it be like a Bob Dylan song?' In the end, we came up with arrangements that l liked."
Appropriately, there actually is a Bob Dylan song on "STREET ANGEL" Nicks's interpretation of "Just Like A Woman," with the man himself appearing on guitar and harmonica. "He didn't want to do anything on it... until l begged him," Stevie laughs. 'I told him, 'There's got to be some sort of spiritual connection. A lot of people will have never heard this song, and it's got to have you on it."
"STREET ANGEL" is a collection not just of songs but of experiences. "l don't just make up stories and turn them into songs," Stevie explains. Whether it's something like "Greta," a tribute to the late Greta Garbo; "Blue Denim," inspired by "that colour of blue denim that your favourite jeans have, that kind of grey blue; or "Jane," a song written for the legendary Jane Goodall, whose enlightening and compassionate studies have shown the similarities between humans and chimpanzees -- Nicks's songs "are all about something l feel or someone l know. I've always looked at my albums as little movies."
In the more than twenty years since the release of 'BUCKINGHAM NICKS," the album with Lindsey Buckingham that marked her recording debut, Stevie Nicks has evolved, very simply, into "a better writer not just a songwriter, but a writer, period." Indeed, she is in the process of putting together a book entitled "DREAMS, STORIES, and POEMS," culled largely from the journals she's kept over the years; aside from her writings, it will also include some of her drawings and photographs.
It will come as good news to Stevie Nicks fans everywhere that she has no plans to stop making the kind of music that has brought her international stardom. "you know," she says, "sometimes I'll be sitting in an airport or someplace, waiting, absolutely exhausted; maybe I'm late for a rehearsal or something, and all l really want to do is be alone at home reading in a bubble bath. I'll be just about to completely lose it when some shy person will carefully approach me and tell me about how much a certain song of mine helped them through a crisis or a time in their own life...
'That's exactly what makes it all worth it. What l get back from those who listen to my music cannot ever be measured. It's all about love, and trust, and acceptance, and it is completely priceless."
NICKS: THE SOLO ALBUMS
THE WILD HEART
ROCK A LITTLE
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR
TIMESPACE: THE BEST OF STEVIE NICKS
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