Record albums are like books. Collecting them is the same in that you really don’t want to speak or write about something that you don’t believe in wholeheartedly. There are many blogs and reviewers out in the mainstream media who get paid to wax golden sixpence about the newest Bon Jovi album or the train wreck known as Nikki Minaj. I won’t write for this blog about an album I didn’t care for; that defeats the purpose in talking about collecting things that bring happiness and light into your orbit. That’s why I chose this album and not Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album Bella Donna. While I own most of her albums on vinyl, this one continues to haunt me and inspire me at the same time.
Stevie Nicks is best known as the beguiling gypsy of Fleetwood Mac, another of my favorite bands of all time. However, separate her from the rest of the talented circle, and she can still shine on her own. Bella Donna was a sign of greatness to come. The Wild Heart came out in the summer of 1983. I was 10 and already enchanted (song pun intended) by her. I hadn’t even heard her first album before this album; I saw the video for Stand Back on MV50 one day and I was in love. With the song, with the woman, with the clothes. Especially with the clothes. I used to wrap my mom’s ugly Fingerhut scarves around me and dance, attempting to whirl with elegance, like Stevie did in the video. Of course, that only resulted in multiple bruises and contusions when I tripped over all those damn scarves and hurt more than my pride. I was never that cool, even at 10. It also resulted in the realization that no one can possibly spin that much without getting dizzy and toppling into the dresser in the bedroom where I was trying to perfect that move. (You think that visual is funny? You should witness my re-enactment of trying to sing both Wilson sister’s parts on the the Heart song “Crazy On You.” Believe me when I tell you it’s good for humanity that I do not attempt to re-enact either of these events now.) Unless you’re Stevie. Because, quite possibly, she can do that sort of magic.
The album itself? Solid from start to finish. Most of the album was written and recorded after Stevie lost her best friend Robin Anderson to cancer. That loss definitely inspired some beautiful aching moments on this record, but it also spurned some wild energy along with it. Stand Back had guest appearances from the guitar player in Toto (as if anyone really cares) and his Purpleness, Prince, on the synthesizer for the song. There’s another Tom Petty duet, “I Will Run To You” (which I always confuse with Bryan Adam’s “Run To You“, which came out not long after that). I still say that everyone thought Stevie was nuts over Don Henley, but I have to say that every time I see her and Tom Petty doing a duet in concert, I always harbored a suspicion they could have had a fling or a mutual admiration society going. “Nightbird” is a great tune, and one that remains Stevie’s favorite to this day of her solo work. “Beauty and the Beast” has a full orchestra backing of string musicians, and is supposedly based on a classic 1946 movie that is a favorite of hers. “Sable On Blonde” is about learning to live with herself and her newfound independence. “If Anyone Falls” is a magical song all the way around, and if I had to pick my favorite Stevie Nicks song of all time, this one might be it. If you asked me for a favorite track off the album, I would likely reply that the entire album is my favorite track. All of the tracks flow incredibly well. There’s energy, unrequited love, passion, magic, and last but not least, there’s a will to it. The message is that you can love and you can lose, but somehow, you will get through it. Having gone through bullshit and still single into my early 40’s, I believe it. You can live a happy, fulfilling life full of longing and love and be single. Stevie Nicks proves it’s possible to do just that.
Stevie Nicks, definitely a woman with an incredible voice. Definitely an inspiration to me, and this album is one of the few that I haven’t opened. I’ve destroyed numerous copies of it on cassette, I’ve scratched more copies of the CD than I can count sheep, and I had a copy of the concert tour on VHS that I watched so much that the VHS snapped (similar to my adventures with the Duran VHS tape “Sing Blue Silver”). She made me compelled to write notebooks of poetry (unfortunately many of those notebooks were burned by my mother in her mentally ill state before she passed away, so I only remember how much I could write while listening to her solo records, but it was a lot. I had entire notebooks). She inspired me to not be afraid to love the wrong idiot, despite the fact it likely would not end well. Stevie’s 1989 song “Rooms on Fire” is a song I identify with so much it’s scary. And I have lived that song several times now, but I go on. Life goes on, Stevie goes on recording her solo stuff, and thankfully Fleetwood Mac continues touring to this day. We should all be fucking thankful that Stevie Nicks is still rocking today.