Sunday, 29 September 2013

IN THE STILLNESS OF REMEMBERING


It took me back ... to LA, twenty seven years ago, when I went to spend a couple of days with Stevie Nicks at her Spanish-style house on El Contento Drive in the Hollywood Hills. This was July 1986. There had been a soul-shattering earthquake a few days earlier, and Stevie had hundreds of crystals out, to balance the place. There were other collections, of all kinds: antique dolls, and fans, and shawls. Cherished skirts and dresses that she could no longer wear but couldn't bear to part with were draped over lamps and pinned to walls. She couldn't offload these garments, she explained, because 'they are like pieces of love.'

Mick Fleetwood once described her as 'the girl who sang just like the sweetheart of the rodeo, a daughter of the great American southwest.' She was that all right, all five feet of her, every stack of her six-inch platform boots. Fleetwood Mac turned a corner when Stevie and Lindsey dropped in. They've careered that crazy highway ever since. It was Stevie who made the band mystical. She's still doing it. 'Rhiannon', 'Sara', 'Gypsy', 'Gold Dust Woman', these were all variations on a theme, she told me. They were all her. I remember going to visit her again that same year, during her sojourn at the Betty Ford Clinic. The cocaine blizzards, the booze blitzes, the too many rock'n'roll lovers - Eagles Joe Walsh and Don Henley, Tom Petty, producer Jimmy Iovine, as well as Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and the rest - had got the better of her. She 'confessed', if that's not crass, to five abortions: 'Mick made me have them', she insisted, 'how could I tour the planet with this 'biggest band in the world', as we were then, with a baby under each limb?' She was, she admitted, still looking for love...

Married to her music, she still is. Her raspy resilience is show-stopping. She is dignified and unrepentant, dominating the stage in soot-fairy get-up, between two men who broke her heart - 'Johnny Mac' being the only member of the band she has not had an affair with. She hurls her insides out in homage to every man she has ever loved, and a whole heap more.

Christine McVie was her big sister, her mentor, who taught her so much and helped her 'grow into the woman I am now. I owe her everything.'

Stevie Nicks is sixty five years old, incredibly. Christine McVie is seventy, and no longer inclined to tour. But her brief appearance tonight with her old band mates, for 'Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow', was the song that had the entire arena on its feet. My personal highlight? 'Silver Springs' - the track that fell off the 1977 'Rumours' album - back then, the fastest-selling LP of all time - but which became the B-side of the single release of 'Go Your Own Way.' Too magical.

It's the Seventies again tonight, and the sky is star-less ... when dreams unwind, love is a state of mind...