The Wild Heart, Stevie Nicks‘ second solo recording, turns 39 today. Although Stevie was presented with the daunting task of following up her blockbuster Billboard No. 1 album Bella Donna with another hit record, she met the challenge with flying colors (more on things flying in a moment). Accompanied by a slew of hit singles, colorful music videos, and a successful concert tour, the album peaked at No. 5 and became a two-million seller (double platinum) — solidifying Stevie’s path to a remarkable solo career and, ultimately, her induction into the prestigious Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2019.
As you probably know, Stevie was one of the pioneers of the music video revolution in the 1980s, with her splashy videos dominating MTV, Night Tracks, and Friday Night Videos playlists for years. Who can forget Stevie marching on down her glam-neon “Stand Back” treadmill, rocking chiffon-sleeve realness, the delicate fabric taking to the sky like a spirit in flight? Not to mention how hard it probably was to walk on that crazy thing in five-inch platform boots — fearlessness is fearlessness! Suffice it to say, girlfriend took a risk for the sake of her craft to create this iconic moment in music video history!
The opening bars of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” famously served as the musical inspiration for “Stand Back.” But “The Purple One” also played guitar and synthesizer on the track, creating the song’s distinctive 16th-note musical structure.
Stevie stretched herself literally to her limits by showing off a little ballet in the video for “If Anyone Falls,” the album’s second single. According to Stevie, the video director asked her to tilt her head all the way back in one scene, but she was physically unable to do it. So a rock and roll ballerina look-alike was brought in to film the shot, Stevie later describing the stand-in dancer as her “stunt neck.”
The “If Anyone Falls” video had a whimsical flair, featuring Stevie and her background singers riding a moving carousel, playing a church organ, and waltzing gracefully with a hot guy (Brad Jeffries).
Even Mick Fleetwood joined in on the fun for a cameo, returning the favor of Stevie appearing in his similarly medieval-inspired video for the 1981 single “I Want You Back” (featuring guitarist Lindsey Buckingham on lead vocals, but more like stylized grunting).
Speaking of Mick Fleetwood, “the beast” himself was the subject of the grand-tastic “Beauty and the Beast,” a six-minute orchestral masterpiece, which closed the album. “We come from different worlds, but we are the same,” Stevie sang in the dramatic moments of the bridge. And then came the climactic “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII’ve changed!” — the sustained note that changed us all forever.
In 2016, we were treated to even more Wild Heart goodness when Rhino cracked open “The Vault” door ever so slightly to reissue the album with previously unreleased material, such as rare demos for “Sorcerer,” “All the Beautiful Worlds,” and “I Sing for the Things,” among others — none of which made the album’s final cut, of course, so this music was all that much more special to hear. “Violet and Blue,” an outtake from The Wild Heart sessions, ended up on the Grammy-nominated movie soundtrack for Against All Odds (1984).
With songs endlessly flowing out of her gossamer wings, there could have easily been The Wild Heart 2 consisting of the remaining unrecorded material presented in the deluxe reissue. Fortunately, Stevie ended up recording this material for subsequent solo albums.
At the edge of forty, The Wild Heart stands high and mighty in Stevie’s vast solo catalog, an accomplished work anchored by one her most recognizable hits, the Stevie/Prince collabo “Stand Back.” This month, we look back on this incredible recording, revisiting our posts from its 30th anniversary in 2013. Check out the following three posts, which honor the album’s three U.S. Top 40 singles: “Stand Back,” “If Anyone Falls” and “Nightbird.”
Check back soon for more tributes. Until then, Happy Anniversary, Wild Heart!
Wild…in the darkest places of your mind