Finding inner peace has taken years for Stevie Nicks. She didn’t find it in her longtime base of Los Angeles, which she left after the Jan. 17 Northridge Earthquake. She didn’t find it in the later years of Fleetwood Mac, which she left after the group sang at President Clinton’s inauguration.
Finally, though, Nicks has found a measure of peace from living in the desert beauty of Phoenix — and from concentrating on a solo career that for years she had to juggle with Fleetwood Mac commitments.
“I gave it the old college try. I gave it everything you could give it,” she said of Fleetwood Mac, for which she sang such hits as “Rhiannon,” “Gold Dust Woman,’ and “Dreams.”
Nicks is back with a new album, Street Angel,” which is rich in rock-survivor wisdom and features a haunting version of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman,” with Dylan on guitar and harmonica. There also is a passionate tribute to biologist Jane Goodall and several of the straight-from-the-heart love songs for which Nicks is known.
“I’m a much happier person now,” Nicks, 46, said recently from Arizona. “My life is easier and I’m really looking forward to going on the road this time. Probably that has a lot to do with the fact I haven’t just come off the road with Fleetwood Mac. Whenever I’d come off the road from Fleetwood Mac, I’d be exhausted.
“Not being with Fleetwood Mac has made more of a change than I ever expected,” Nicks said. “To not be on call to Fleetwood Mac is really something, because up until the inauguration, I was. There was no getting out of a call from Fleetwood Mac. If they needed you, you had to go, no matter what else was in your life or what was planned. There was nothing else that came first.”
“I look at that now and I’m kind of amazed that I let that go on for so long. And I don’t mean ‘Why didn’t I leave?’ I just mean that I could have been not as wimpy a person.”
Nicks has a new song, “Greta,” about a restless wanderer who “packs her bags and she goes back to the Valley of the Sun” — which is what Nicks did after the Northridge Earthquake. “There was no possible way I was going to wait around for another earthquake,” Nicks said.
Nicks still maintains a home in Los Angeles, but her heart clearly is in Arizona. “It’s hot here — it’s 106 degrees today. But when the sun goes down, I sit outside and it’s so beautiful. If you have any problems, you go outside and they disintegrate. I’ve grown to really depend on my desert-sky time. I guess that’s why the Indians became very spiritual, because it’s very easy to get into a spiritualistic kind of mode here.”
Her more relaxed life also has enabled Nicks to feel better about the aging process. “I’m enjoying the wisdom of getting older,” she said. “I look at it that you’ve become a wiser woman, more of a teacher, more of an adept person. I really dislike all the ‘I’m getting old’ complaints from people who are bothered by it. In other cultures, the older people were most revered.
“Personally, I still feel that I do all the things I could when I was young and still have just a good time, like riding around the desert in a Jeep or climbing Camelback Mountain. I can still do all that, but there’s a certain freedom I didn’t have before. Like think about going outside. Rather than going to a psychiatrist, I look up at this incredible mountain, watch the sky and feel how good the air feels on my face. And (unlike therapy) it doesn’t cost $150.”
Steve Morse / Boston Globe / Sunday, January 23, 1994