Stevie Nicks sings “Wide Sargasso Sea”

STEVIE Nicks’ first album in 10 years had its beginnings in Australia, writes SALLY BROWNE. It includes a song based on Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea.

IT was just after she had seen the Twilight film New Moon while on tour in Australia.
Stevie Nicks was so taken by the love story that she stole upstairs to her Melbourne hotel room and wrote a five-page essay about iconic love affairs – about Bella and Edward, about Beauty and the Beast and about her own love story, with Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac.
The similarities between their story and Bella and Edward’s in New Moon were uncanny.
“A forbidden love. A love that cannot work,” she describes it.
She went back to see the film the next night at midnight to reflect on it again.
Meanwhile, a united Fleetwood Mac was playing sell-out shows around Australia.

When they got to Brisbane, Nicks’ hotel suite contained a piano. She sat down and out poured what was to become the song Moonlight.
Having no recording equipment, she performed it in front of a video camera.
“When I was done, I got up, went in and said to my assistant, ‘I’m ready to make a record now’,” she says. “It was so great because had there not been a piano there, it may not have been written. So this record started in Australia.”
In Your Dreams is 63-year-old Nicks’ first album in 10 years.
Co-written with and produced by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame, it has received great response from critics and the public alike, going top 10 in the US.
It is an insight into Nicks’ world, not only her Twilight fascination, but also her love of other gothic literary works.
 Annabel Lee is based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
 The rocking Wide Sargasso Sea is based on the 1966 novel by Jean Rhys, written as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

In the upbeat New Orleans, she sings about wearing feathers and lace, and references Anne Rice, the queen of vampire tales before Stephenie Meyer usurped her.
Italian Summer is just that – a song Nicks wrote while on holiday abroad.
The most talked-about track, though, is Secret Love which was written around the time of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album but didn’t make the final cut. There has been much speculation about who her secret love was but Nicks won’t be drawn on his identity.
She worked closely with Stewart, with whom she co-wrote many of the songs, the first time in her 40-year career she had sat in the same room with another songwriter.
“All the years of Fleetwood Mac I would basically just give Lindsey a tape or a CD with a song on it and say, ‘You can produce it but don’t change it’,” Nicks says. “I had never sat across the coffee table with a guy playing guitar in front of a fireplace and recited a poem and written a song in 10 minutes.
“This was really something new for me and very exciting.”
Nicks and Stewart worked at Nicks’ Los Angeles home, writing and recording in less than a year, creating a lively atmosphere as various musician friends dropped by and stayed for dinner.
As well as her former lover and collaborator Buckingham, who performs on the moving Soldier’s Angel, drummer Mick Fleetwood also contributed to the album.
Certainly, Buckingham has not been the only love of Nicks’ life but their often turbulent relationship will always hold a special place.
When they split, a year after they joined Fleetwood Mac, it was devastating and that’s why Bella and Edward’s story resonated with Nicks so much.
“I think especially the New Moon story – the part when he left her, when he said, ‘I’m leaving you’ and he kind of lied to her and said, ‘I’m leaving you because you’re not good for me’,” she says.
“And he was really leaving her because he was not good for her and he loved her enough to say, ‘I’m going to leave her so she can have a real life’. And that really touched me, because that kind of thing happened to me once and it was so devastating.”
As Nicks releases In Your Dreams, the mid-1970s era Fleetwood Mac is back on the radar.
A new generation has embraced the band’s classic songs, thanks to the TV show Glee, which devoted an episode to the 1976 album Rumours and catapulted it back to the top of the US charts and as high as No. 2 on the ARIA charts.
The band has always acknowledged its Australian following and only two years after its most recent visit, Nicks is coming back for a solo tour in November. Stewart will accompany her.
“We love playing in Australia,” she says. “We have a real connection, I think, and we always have the best time there.”
Nicks’ journey has taken her from success to cocaine addiction, from love to lost love, but she always has had an inner strength to see her through.
What would she say to her younger self now if she had the chance?
“I might have said, ‘Don’t ever do cocaine’, but whether my younger self would have listened when the whole world was doing that, I don’t know,” she says.
“Nobody really listens to anything when they’re that age.

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