By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
May 3, 2007
Whether it’s raising money for the Arizona Heart Institute, collecting iPods for injured Iraq war soldiers or writing a song about the plight of New Orleans, charity is important to singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks [ tickets ].
“When you get famous and you get recognized for the work that you do, there’s a lot of good things that you get,” Nicks told LiveDaily. “You get a beautiful house and you get beautiful things, and you get to meet fantastic people. There’s this part of me that’s always thought, ‘This can’t just be a one-way street here. I have to do stuff.'”
While her upcoming tour with Chris Isaak was being mapped, Nicks was spending her time off by promoting her new greatest-hits collection, “Crystal Visions–The Very Best of Stevie Nicks,” and visiting injured military personnel at the Walter Reed Army and Bethesda National Naval medical centers.
Nicks talked to LiveDaily about the long days she spends at the medical centers, raising money in her dad’s name for the Arizona Heart Institute, her greatest-hits record and touring with Chris Isaak.
LiveDaily: Do you still live in the Phoenix area?
Stevie Nicks: I’m in Los Angeles. I do live [in the Phoenix area], but I’m in the process of selling my house because I’m not there enough since 1980. My mom and dad were there, and my dad died a couple years ago. My mom’s still there. I’m not there enough to warrant having a big house there. But that won’t mean that I still won’t be coming home. My brother’s there, my mom’s there, my niece is there. I still have a lot of family there.
I think it’s really noble, all the work you do for the Arizona Heart Institute. My dad had a heart transplant, and my grandfather has heart problems, so our family has spent a lot of time there.
Well, my dad was very determined and devoted to building those hospitals. To stand in the hospital and say, “This was his dream and he did it right down to the very end …” We did the last benefit just last year, and it was the one we needed to do to finish the last hospital of the three that he [helped to raise money for]. He did it. I was standing there going, “I’m so sorry he’s not here to actually be here, because this was his day.” He did it. He pushed it through.
Charity seems to be really important to you. I read about what you did for injured soldiers at Walter Reed.
[With the Arizona Heart Institute,] that was really [my father’s] charity calling because he had an “almost heart-attack” in the ’70s. That’s why he resigned as president of Greyhound. He had a big job working for a big corporation. He had one of the first 1,100 bypasses that were done. This was when I was 22 years old. You probably know this: if you can not have a heart attack, and you can go back and fix it–whether it’s by bypass or a stint or whatever–you can go out and have a pretty long, great life. If you have a heart attack, you’ve endangered the heart muscle, then you’re going to have big problems. So he didn’t. They got it. They did the bypass. He was in his 40s, so he lived another 40 years. That then became his cause. That was even before I joined Fleetwood Mac. That then became my cause, because that was his cause. Then I started to really realize how many people–even people my age–were having all these heart problems. So it was a good thing that he had this cause, because it was a really easy thing for me to step up to and join him. It was a thing that he and I got to do together, which was really great. It was a real bonding thing for the two of us.
With the Walter Reed thing, that just happened very accidentally. I was playing in Washington, DC, two and a half or three years ago, and I just got invited. I had a day off. I was in DC and I got an invitation to go to the hospital from the Army, I guess. I went. I had no idea what to expect, to be perfectly honest. I just thought, “I’m going to go to the hospital, meet a few guys and then I’m going to come home.” I ended up going at 2 [p.m.], and I don’t think I got back to the hotel until 9 or 10. I went into basically every room in the hospital where there was somebody who was well enough to see me. I was really pretty blown away and startled by the entire situation.
When I went home that night, I was pretty stricken, and I cried and I was really upset. I just said, “I have to do something.” So I came up with the idea of buying iPods and putting as many songs as I could stuff on them, because they’re little. When you’re in a little, tiny hospital room, and you don’t have room for a big stereo and all your CDs, this iPod idea would really work out well. That’s what I did. I came back to Los Angeles and called everybody I knew and said, “I need money to buy iPods with, or I need iPods.” That’s how it started. I never went to Steve Jobs, I never went to the iPod people. I just call up everybody I know. Every time I go, and I get 50 or 60. I go now to Bethesda also, which is the naval hospital. We call both hospitals, find out how many people are there, we get a ballpark figure, and we try to take as many [iPods] as there are people there, 60 or 70. If we give them all away, we give them all away. If we don’t, we put them into our stash for the next visit.
It has worked out exactly how I thought it would. These kids need to go get out of that bed and go exercise. They need to go work on their rehabilitation. For me, when I don’t feel well and I’m trying to get better, music has always been single-handedly the thing that gets me back up and into the world. That’s what I tell them: “I hope you use this for your rehab. It’ll dance you out of your bed.” I think it’s working. I think they appreciate it. I think they have a lot of fun. I put all my collections that I’ve been making since 1978, that I think are personally fantastic. Anything else I can think of. All different bands. Everybody knows and is behind me on this. So I put any music that I want on it, and they love it. It’s a little thing, but it’s a big thing in the scheme of their recovery.
On to your music: how did your tour with Chris Isaak come about?
Chris and I have been friends a long time. We are both managed by Howard Kaufman. It’s kind of like we’re all in the same family. I don’t know how it exactly happened, but I’m sure it happened through our management. It was just a good bill, and due to the fact that we are really good friends, it’s not just a good bill, but it’s a really fun thing for the two of us. I know his band really well. He knows everybody in my band really well, so it will be a really fun traveling circus. I don’t usually get to do this. For the last two years I took Vanessa Carlton with me, who did 30 minutes, but that’s one little girl. That’s a whole ‘nother kind of opening act. This is like the old days. This is kind of like two big acts, so you’re all backstage together so it’s fun.
Was it difficult to choose songs for “Crystal Visions”?
When you do this kind of collection, there’s a few that you have to put on. You kind of have to do the singles. Then you go through [what’s left of the] catalog and you figure out things that you think might be fun. We added in several live cuts. “Landslide” and “Edge of Seventeen” are live from Melbourne, Australia, with a 60-piece orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. I sequenced [the album] as if all of the songs were done at the same time. It’s fun to listen to it because of that. It’s trippy, because you hear these songs and you’re like, “When was that?” Even me, and I know when they were. I said to my sister in law Lori, this is kind of the record we always wanted to make. This is the solo album we always wanted to make with all the most fantastic songs on it. I think it came out great. I’m very proud of it, and I think the sequence is really fun. If it has a really good sequence, which is kind of my forte, maybe people will listen to the whole thing instead of just saying, “I want that one song” or “I want those two songs.”
You said you weren’t even sure when the songs came out. That’s a sure sign of how timeless your material is, wouldn’t you say?
Well, thank you. I do. When I was sitting there listening to all of them, I’m going, like, “You know, these songs sound really good today. These songs I recorded in 1981 and 1983 and 1985 and 1987 and 1990, they do, I think, they stand up very well.” I think every time I do this kind of a thing, I hope, anyway, it ends up being a teaching thing for all the new little rock stars that are coming up. This is something they can listen to.
With the live footage on the DVD, that’s the actual recording of “Bella Donna,” because we filmed it. My singer Lori Nicks–she’s my sister-in-law too–her first husband filmed the whole damn thing for three months and edited it down to two hours. We put 25 minutes of the two hours on the DVD. It’s fascinating, because you see Jimmy Iovine, who’s president of the world [he currently heads Interscope Records], he’s producing the record so he’s in there with me, showing me and telling me what to do. He’s such a part of it. He is really producing the record. You don’t see that that much now.
Most of the photographs I used [in the package] were by my friend Herbie Worthington, who did the Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” cover and the first Fleetwood Mac “Fleetwood Mac” record, and almost all of my covers. I went back into all of Herbie’s vault of photos and pulled out many, many pictures that I thought were just so terrific … and tried to fill this little booklet with stuff that was new. Only if you’re doing a photo book would you ever have a reason to go back and pull all those photos. I had a lot of fun doing that.
Have you started writing material for a new album?
I have. It’s not like I’m writing new material for a new album; I’m just writing because I always write. I’ve written a song about New Orleans that I really love that’s kind of about [Hurricane] Katrina. I was going to put it on this record as just an extra, added thing, then I pulled it because I’m not ready to release this song yet. I don’t have the time to go out and find the right producer for this song. I’d like to have it be a real New Orleans flair. I live in Los Angeles. I don’t really know anybody with a New Orleans flair here. I made a really, really good demo of it and it’s sitting in the demo trunk waiting for when I have some time to do it. When this tour’s over at the end of the summer, that’s probably one of the first things I’ll do is find somebody. I want to get this song recorded. I don’t think it will matter if it’ll take another two years to come out, because New Orleans is not getting better overnight. I think it’s going to be relevant for the next 10 years, [so I’ll release it] whenever I get it done to the point of where I think it’s really ready to help that city. That’s what I want to do with it. I want to let it go somehow someway to help them. Whether it’s just giving the song royalties over to the city of New Orleans or what–but something. I’ll figure out something. I didn’t want to take a chance of it not being done, as good as it is. I think it’s one of the best songs I’ve written in a long time.