PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Stevie Nicks’ new album, Timespace: The Best of Stevie Nicks, is a first for the diminutive, doe-eyed queen of mystic rock ‘n’ roll. She has decided, after 10 years, to let her audience know what her favorite songs are about and for whom they were written.
In the record’s liner notes, the former lead singer of Fleetwood Mac has explained the whys and wheretofores behind her dusky-voiced classics like “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” “Stand Back,” and “Edge of Seventeen.”
It was time to explain the songs, she decided, because “everybody’s had 10 years to interpret them themselves.”
The album contains three new songs, including one she wrote herself in tribute to the veterans of the Persian Gulf War. But the emphasis is on her old standbys, which she illuminates in the liner notes.
“I spent about a month in Phoenix (her hometown) writing out all these 13 vignettes,” she said in a telephone interview. “When I first started doing it, I thought, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ and then I thought, ‘Yeah, I really do want to do it,’ because I really do want people to understand a little bit about what this has been like for me.”
The vignettes are tender, deeply personal tales about the songwriting process, the men in Nicks’ life and the tragedies she has experienced.
One of the most touching stories is the one behind “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You” from her third solo album, 1985’s Rock A Little. It was written for and inspired by singer Joe Walsh after she learned of the death of his 4-year-old daughter in a car accident.
The death “has been an absolute taboo subject,” Nicks said. “I had to immediately call Mr. Walsh and clear it with him or it could have never been printed, because that is not a subject that is talked about at all.”
The vignette describes Walsh taking Nicks to a park where he and his daughter had spent a lot of time. He told her his daughter’s only complaint was that she couldn’t reach the drinking fountain to get a drink.
After his daughter’s death, Walsh built a tiny silver drinking fountain in the park. A plaque on it reads, “Dedicated To HER And To All The Others Who Were Too Small To Get A Drink.”
“As soon as we got there (to the park), I knew there was going to be a tiny little drinking fountain in that park,” she said. “Everybody thinks Joe was so nuts, and he is, but Joe has a sensitive side that goes far, far beyond that. I just knew that the one thing that she asked for was the thing that he would put in her park.”
Nicks tells of another tragedy, this time in her own life, in her signature song, “Edge of Seventeen,” from her first solo album, “Bella Donna,” released in 1981. She describes how helpless she felt when her uncle died.
In the song, she sings: “Well then suddenly, there was no one left standing in the hall / In a flood of tears that no one really ever heard fall at all / Oh I went searching for an answer up the stairs and down the hall / Not to find an answer, just to hear the call of a nightbird / singing, come away, come away.”
Explaining it now, she says she and her cousin sat with her uncle and saw him “just slip away from us in about three hours.”
“Nobody came, nobody was there, and I did go screaming out into the hallway, and there was no one there, so we just had to sit there with him and wait until somebody got there. Nobody in the whole family realized he was dead.”
Afterward, she said, “I went straight home and wrote `Edge of Seventeen.’ ”
The new songs on Timespace include her ode to the troops of Operation Desert Storm, “Desert Angel,” and two songs that were written for her, one by Jon Bon Jovi and one by Poison singer Bret Michaels.
Nicks left Fleetwood Mac after 15 years with the band, and at 43, credits sturdy genes and a “strong instinct to survive” with keeping her going through the stress of two careers, one with the band and one on her own.
“All the women in my family live to be very, very old,” she said. “I had my picture taken with my great-great grandmother when I was in the eighth grade, and she was 106. She was the only survivor of the last Colorado massacre, the last wagon train that came over the Rockies. She jumped in a little trunk and just stayed in there for four days and the soldiers found her.
“I think maybe that’s where I get it. You just can’t kill us Nicks women off.”
Nicks titled her collection Timespace because she wanted to avoid a “greatest hits” or “best of” title.
Tulsa World / September 28, 1991