Atlantic City Weekly, August 25, 2010

Stevie Nicks Finds New Inspiration, Talks About New Album

Rock Icon Stevie Nicks takes a break from recording her new album with Dave Stewart to play the Taj Mahal Aug. 27.

By Michael Pritchard  

 The last time Stevie Nicks played Atlantic City, in June 2009, she played Boardwalk Hall, the city’s big room, surrounded by a few band mates you may have heard of — Lindsay Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, you know, Fleetwood Mac.

But Friday, Aug. 27, Nicks switches to her other side, as a solo artist, when she plays the Trump Taj Mahal.

And in either incarnation, whether she’s Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” or her own “White Winged Dove,” Nicks is an icon in both settings. And she’s comfortable in both, she says in a telephone interview with Atlantic City Weekly from her Los Angeles home.

“You know, the two are very different,” she says. “There’s something to be said for the great huge hall and [playing for] 18,000 people in New Zealand. But then there’s the small venues that are much more intimate. And you can’t be that in the huge venues. You’re very far from the people.

“But when you’re in a small venue, it’s like way back in the beginning when you were playing clubs, even though it’s way bigger than a club [the Taj Mahal’s Etess Arena can seat 5,000], there’s still a little of that vibe. But there’s a lot to be said about both and I’m one of those very lucky people who gets to play both.”

And at 62, she’s also lucky enough to pick and choose her spots. Nicks isn’t currently on tour. In fact, she’s in the middle of writing and recording a new album (her seventh) with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, a project she speaks about with excitement and a little bit of wonder.

Yet, this month, she’s taking a break from the album and doing a brief five-concert tour.

“About two and a half months ago, my manager called and said, ‘I know you’re doing a record, but how would you like to do five shows in August?’ And I said basically, ‘You know I’m doing a record.’ And he said, ‘I know, but it’s good to work and in this economy ... maybe it would be a good idea for you to do this. Because if you do, it will be like you worked this year. And that’s always a good thing.’

“So I said basically, ‘You’re telling me that that’s what you want me to do?’” she says. “He said, ‘I think you should do it’ so I said, ‘OK, cool. We’ll break for the month of August.’”

For fans, it’s a chance to see Nicks at a time in her life when she’s experiencing music and songwriting in a new way. Despite her storied love affair and creative partnership with Buckingham, in Stewart she’s found something new — a songwriting partner.

Nicks and Stewart’s collaboration started when Nicks gave him a collection of her poetry, compiled by a friend, from years of her writing that dates back decades. Stewart saw songs in those poems, songs Nicks didn’t even see.

“So when we started [working on the record] right after the Grammys in January and set up my living room as a recording studio, he, unbeknownst to me, had actually read all 50 of these poems. And he said, ‘OK, I like this poem, so let’s do this poem.’ And I’m so honored that he actually read it, and besides that, I like all my poems. So I’m like ‘OK cool!’

“So he starts playing guitar and he looks at me, and sort of gives me the wink like, ‘OK go.’ So I start just reciting in sort of a sing-songy voice over what he was playing. And in the end of the first 10 minutes, we had written a song. And my life was truly forever changed in that moment. I have never been a person that understood why people would want to write with somebody. It has always been a very personal experience for me.

“When I write my songs, I usually have five or 10 poems taped all across the piano. And I take a little from this poem and a little from that poem. But Dave actually liked the whole poem. He said, ‘Let’s use the whole poem.’ And I’m like, ‘Really, won’t it be too long?’ And he says, ‘If it’s too long, who cares. We’ll edit it later. But let’s use the whole poem. Let’s use the whole story.’

“So, in fact, more of my stories have gotten into these songs than when I write by myself. And then when he drove away that night, I had a song on a CD that I could listen to that we had made and it was one of the most thrilling moments in my life. Like I said, I was very, very stubborn about working with someone and before that I would have never given anyone the chance to do that.”

Stewart also brought something else to the table, Nicks says. Because of his long collaboration with Annie Lennox (as the Eurythmics), he had an innate understanding of partnering with a woman.

“It’s a duo, and being in a duo is a very specific thing rather than being in a band,” she says. “Lindsay and I were a duo until we joined Fleetwood Mac and then we became a trio within a band of five. So Dave and Annie and Stevie and Lindsay have a whole lot in common. I think that’s one of reasons it was really easy for Dave and I to work. He knew I had never written with anyone before and he was very careful not to scare me to death. And he set the stage for that to happen because he had worked with a woman.

“So the whole things has been very eye-opening to me,” says Nicks. “I can understand now why people want to write together.”

Stevie Nicks' classic "Stand Back" video: