“Don’t listen to her … listen through her.”
Stevie Nicks is an undisputed goddess of rock ’n’ roll, and has influenced a generation of female artists with her style, music and will to survive.
For forty years, she’s seen firsthand the ups and downs of the rock star life, and she’s managed to emerge and thrive, and is more respected and beloved now more than ever.
In honor of her birthday, we’re ranking her songs—both solo and with Fleetwood Mac. If you don’t agree with the rankings, well, let us know in the comments.
66. Crying In The Night – The opening track from Buckingham Nicks, it introduced The Goddess to the world.
65. Long Way To Go – Urgent rocker from The Other Side Of The Mirror, it was the second single, but failed to chart.
64. Blue Denim – Opening track and second single from Street Angel, it was one of the few high points on the album, but didn’t chart.
63. Straight Back – From Mirage, it dealt with her separation from Jimmy Iovine.
62. The Highwayman – Final track from Bella Donna, it has a tinge of country, something she would revisit many times in her career.
61. Silent Night – From A Very Special Christmas, it was the closing track, and a perfect rendition.
60. Secret Love – First single from In Your Dreams, Stevie originally wrote the song in 1976 and recorded a demo for Rumours, but it didn’t make the cut.
59. Welcome To The Room … Sara – From Tango In The Night, it was about her stint at the Betty Ford center for her addiction to … Pixie Stix.
58. Outside The Rain – From Bella Donna, it was one of the first to be recorded for her solo debut.
57. Every Day – First single from her stellar comeback Trouble in Shangri-La, it’s one of the few songs on this list she didn’t write herself.
56. Enchanted – Rocker from The Wild Heart, it would also be the appropriate title of her box set.
55. Maybe Love Will Change Your Mind – First single from the maligned Street Angel, it peaked at a disappointing #57 on the Hot 100.
54. Two Kinds Of Love – From The Other Side Of The Mirror, This duet with Bruce Hornsby should be better known.
53. Rock A Little – Title track from her third solo album, it’s a dark and gorgeous ballad.
52. Trouble In Shangri-La – Title track from her comeback album, it was a terrific re-introduction to her magic.
51. Kind Of Woman – Hauntingly beautiful ballad from Bella Donna
50. At Last – In 1998, Stevie helped out Don Henley with a benefit concert for Walden Woods Project and the Thoreau Institute, as she and a bevy of faboo female artists performed pop and jazz standards, Stevie’s version of “At last” is fantastic.
49. Seven Wonders – Stevie’s single from Tango In The Night peaked at #19 on the Hot 100, but would be resurrected this year for American Horror Story.
48. One More Big Time Rock And Roll Star – Non-album B-side of “Talk To Me,” it should’ve been included on Rock A Little
47. Thousand Days – The B-side to the European CD single for “Blue Denim” and UK single for “Maybe Love Will Change Your Mind, it was originally supposed to be for Rock A Little, but was inexplicably scrapped.
46. Too Far From Texas – This duet with the faboo Natalie Maines was a standout on Trouble In Shangri-La.
45. Planets of The Universe – First recorded as a demo during the recording sessions for Rumours, she dusted it off for Trouble In Shangri-La, earning a Grammy nod, and a #1 on the Dance chart.
44. If You Ever Did Believe – From the Practical Magic soundtrack, it was one of a number of collaborations with Sheryl Crow.
43. Whenever I Call You Friend – Her first hit outside of Fleetwood Mac, this classic duet with Kenny Loggins reached #5 on the chart.
42. Reconsider Me – Written for Stevie by the late Warren Zevon, it was another song scrapped from Rock A Little, and would later be the first single from the Enchanted box set.
41. Garbo – The B Side of “Stand Back,” it’s one of the buried treasures of her discography.
40. Wild Heart – Title track from her second solo album. “Don’t blame it on me, blame it on my wild heart …”
39. How Still My Love – From Bella Donna. “Still the same old story … what price glory.”
38. Angel – From Tusk, it’s one of her favorites form the album “Angel is a song that I love doing on stage because it makes me feel like an old-time dancehall girl. I love it. I love it.”
37. Needles & Pins – Stevie teamed up again with Tom Petty for this 1985 live version of the pop nugget, and it peaked at #37 on the Hot 100. Trivia: Do you know who co-wrote the song? Sonny Bono!
36. Think About It – From Bella Donna, it was rumored to be written for Christine McVie, who was going through some difficulties.
35. Sable On Blond – A terrific gem from The Wild Heart that’s rarely heard today.
34. Twisted – Single from the Twister soundtrack, it’s so great hearing Stevie and Lindsey together again.
33. After The Glitter Fades – Fourth and final single from Bella Donna, it was another country-influenced classic, and peaked at #32.
32. Gold and Braid – Demo recorded for Bella Donna, it was dropped at the last minute, but became a concert staple
31. Beauty & The Beast – The final track from The Wild Heart, it’s shimmering and heartbreaking. Stevie explains it:
Many years ago…I’ll just share this little tiny story with you. I know I’ll be shot down in flames, but I want to tell you this so I don’t care. Many years ago we came and played Dallas… Fleetwood Mac. Mick’s dad was dying of cancer and he had to fly there – get there right after the Dallas show within 45 minutes before Mike died.. and so I went to Gordon’s studio and I recorded Beauty and the Beast here. And this song kind of went down in the history of the scheme of my life.. and when I die there will be a few moments that I will remember and that was one of them in this little church recording studio where we recorded Beauty and the Beast. Everybody has to remember how special everybody is… and this is the story of Beauty and the Beast… how special we are to each other… You let me into your life here. Thank you very much. Read the story of Beauty and the Beast if you can.
30. Crystal – There are three versions of this song, with the first two performed by Lindsey on Buckingham Nicks and the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album, but here is Stevie herself, from Practical Magic
29. Nightbird – The final charting single from The Wild Heart, it featured beautiful harmony with Sandy Stewart. Stevie explains:
“This song does extend from Edge of Seventeen; it’s about the difficulties of female rock ’n’ roll singers; it’s about my friend Robin, it’s about death, it’s a spirit calling. Wearing boots all summer long is like, always being ready for a flood or avalanche to happen, for the worst to happen. Because when you really look at life, all the money, material things and dreams we all search after could not save one small girl.”
28. I Can’t Wait – Second single from Rock A Little, it peaked at #16. Stevie explains its impact.
“To understand this song, you sort of have to let yourself go a little crazy. Love is blind, it never works out, but you just have to have it. I think this was about the most exciting song that I had ever heard. My friend, Rick, whom I had known since I was 18 and he was 13, brought over this track with this incredible percussion thing, and gave it to me asking me if I would listen to it and consider writing a song for it. I listened to the song once, and pretended not to be that knocked out, but the second Rick left, I ran in my little recording studio and wrote ’I Can’t Wait.’ It took all night, and I think it is all about how electric I felt about this music. And that night, that SATURDAY night, Rick and I went into a BIG studio and recorded it. I sang it only once, and have never sung it since in the studio. Some vocals are magic and simply not able to beat. So I let go of it, as new to me as it was; but you know, now when I hear it on the radio, this incredible feeling comes over me, like something really incredible is about to happen.”
27. Rooms On Fire – First single from The Other Side Of The Mirror, it peaked at #16, and to date, was her last Top 40 hit.
26. I Don’t Want To Know – A holdover from Stevie and Lindsey’s pre-Mac days, they brought it to Rumours, with their glorious harmonizing intact.
25. Violet & Blue – Another track that didn’t make the final cut for The Wild Heart, it ended up on the soundtrack to Against All Odds.
24. Battle Of The Dragon – Rock A Little had quite a few great tracks that were left off the final product, including this song, which was about the difficulties that Fleetwood Mac was going through at the time. It instead was included on the American Anthem soundtrack.
23. Free Fallin’ – Stevie goes to the Tom Petty well again, and comes up with one of the greatest covers of all time.
22. Talk To Me – The first single from Rock A Little, it was her second highest-charting solo single, peaking at #4
21. Long Distance Winner – The most well-known track from Buckingham Nicks, it helped bring the duo to the attention of Fleetwood Mac.
20. Sisters Of The Moon – Fourth single from Tusk, it only peaked at #86, but is one of the most “Stevie” of all Fleetwood Mac songs.
19. Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You – Third single from Rock A Little, it was written for Joe Walsh. Here are the heartbreaking details:
I remember thinking, I can never be far from this person again… he is my soul. He seemed to be in a lot of pain, though hid it well. But finally, a few days later, (we were in Denver), he rented a jeep and drove me up into the snow covered hills of Colorado… for about two hours… He wouldn’t tell me where we were going… but he did tell me a story of a little daughter that he had lost. To Joe, she was more than a child… she was three and a half… and she could relate to him.
I guess I had been complaining about alot of things going on on the road, and he decided to make me aware of how unimportant my problems were, if they were compared to worse sorrows. So he told me that he had taken his little girl to this magic park whenever he could, and the only thing she EVER complained about was that she was too little to reach up to the drinking fountain.
As we drove up to this beautiful park, (it was snowing a little bit), he came around to open my door and help me down, and when I looked up and saw the park… his baby’s park, and I burst into tears saying, ’You built a drinking fountain here for her… didn’t you?’ I was right, under a huge beautiful hanging tree, was a tiny silver drinking fountain… I left Joe to get to it, and on it, it said, ’dedicated to HER and all others who were too small to get a drink.’
So he wrote a song for her [Emma’s Song] and I wrote a song for him… ’This is your song…’ I said… to the people… but it was Joe’s song. Thank you, Joe, for the most committed song I ever wrote… But more than that, thank you for inspiring me in so many ways. Nothing in my life ever seems as dark anymore since we took that drive.
18. Sorcerer – Written during the Buckingham Nicks era, it almost ended up on Tusk, and was eventually recorded by the faboo Marilyn Martin for the Streets Of Fire soundtrack, before becoming the high point of Trouble In Shangri-La
17. Stop Dragging My Heart Around – The first single from Bella Donna, it remains her highest charting single, peaking at #3, and it helped bring her first solo album to #1.
16. Storms – From Tusk, its possibly Stevie’s most heartbreaking break-up song. “Every night you do not come … your softness fades away.”
15. Sara – The biggest single from Tusk, it peaked at #7. Stevie explains it:
“I wrote Sara on the piano, by myself. The original Sara was 16 minutes long. Like about nine more verses than what you hear on the record. It got edited down to 14 minutes, down to 11 minutes, down to 9 minutes, down to 7 minutes, down to 4 minutes and 40 seconds. I was to the point where I went, ’Is the word Sara even going to be left in the song?’
I knew that Sara would be very popular because I loved writing that song. I’ve had more fun writing that…I remember the night I wrote it. ’I sat up with a very good friend of mine whose name is Sara, who was married to Mick Fleetwood. She likes to think it’s completely about her, but it’s really not completely about her. It’s about me, about her, about Mick, about Fleetwood Mac. Its about all of us at that point. There’s little bits about each one of us in that song and when it had all the other verses it really covered a vast bunch of people. Sara was the kind of song you could fall in love with, because I fell in love with it.”
14. Beautiful Child – Concluding our tour of Tusk, we have this powerful lament about a woman struggling to maintain her identity and independence.
13. Gypsy – The second single from Mirage peaked at #12, and the video was, at the time, the most expensive ever made. If I had a nickel for all the times I tried her twirl …
12. Leather & Lace – Second single from Bella Donna, Stevie wrote it for Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, but when it was turned down, she and Don Henley took it into the top ten, peaking at #6.
11. If Anyone Falls – Second single from The Wild Heart, it peaked at #14. It’s a gorgeous, synth-laden top of the pops gem.
10. Blue Lamp – Recorded for Bella Donna, it missed the cut, and Stevie gave it to the soundtrack of Heavy Metal. “Don’t listen to her … listen through her.” And there actually is a Blue Lamp.
The Blue Lamp is a real Tiffany Lamp that uh, it was the first, right after I joined Fleetwood Mac, my Mom bought that lamp for me. So it was the first really beautiful thing that I got. And it was from her. And I ended up carrying it back from, from Phoenix to Los Angeles on the, on the plane and they didn’t want to let me on with this Blue Lamp, and I said, ’Well, well then you’re gonna have to run over me, ’cause we’re not going without the lamp.’
So the Blue Lamp became like this, you know it, it uh, it still sits right in my living room in Phoenix. It’s like, it’s a beautiful lamp and people write songs about it and people walk in the house and say, ’Oh, that’s the Blue Lamp,’ like you just said, you know. So yeah, it really exists, it’s really a lamp.
9. Stand Back – The first single from The Wild Heart, it peaked at #5, and ushered in a new sound for Stevie. It was inspired by “Little Red Corvette.”
“I got married the day I wrote this song. We were driving to Santa Barbara and a new song by Prince came on, so we pulled over somewhere and got the tape. It just gave me an incredible idea, so I spent many hours that night writing a song about some kind of crazy argument, and it was to become one of the most important of my songs. I’ve been doing this song for years, Fleetwood Mac does it also, and I never get tired of it. ’Stand Back’ has always been my favorite song onstage, because…when it starts, it has an energy that comes from somewhere unknown…and it seems to have no timespace. I’ve never quite understood this sound….but I have NEVER questioned it.
I become a different person, and I like that, because usually I make up my OWN characters…but the lady in ’Stand Back’ was not my idea. By the way, Prince did come into the studio the night I called him and told him about the song, and he played incredible synthesizer on it…and then he just walked out of my life, and I didn’t see him for a long time.”
8. Gold Dust Woman – Closing track on Rumours, it was never released as a single, but it’s one of the most recognizable songs from that mega-selling album.
7. Dreams – From Rumours, it’s the biggest hit from that album, and the only #1 song for the group. Stevie explains it:
“When we were first recording the Rumours record we spent two months in Sausalito at the Record Plant, and as far as I’m concerned that’s when we actually recorded the record. It took another eight months after that , but the tracks were all done there. Um, while they’re doing all kinds of stuff and there’s nothing for me to do, I went next door to Sly Stone’s studio within the building, this big like black and red room with a kind of a stairway that went down into this like kind of tunnel thing where people would set up and play around this like light house sort of setup. And I took my little Fender Rhodes piano in there and I wrote Dreams. And I spent about an hour in there, and then I went back in to Fleetwood Mac and actually was brave enough to just play, play it for them, cause I really thought it was good, [smiles] and uh, and they liked it and we recorded it that night. That is the story of Dreams.”
6. Silver Springs – Written for Rumours, when it was excluded from the album (it was the B side of “Go Your Own Way”), it resulted in a growing friction within the band.
“You have to realize that Silver Springs was so genuinely kicked off the record 20 years ago, and I was so genuinely devastated…because I loved the song and it was one of the Rumours songs. So I never thought that Silver Springs would ever be performed on stage, would ever be heard of again so it, like, and my beautiful song just disappeared. So for it to come back around like this has really been, really special to me.”
5. Sleeping Angel – Cut from Bella Donna, it was released on the soundtrack of Fast Times At Ridgemont High. “Well, someday when we’re older, and my hair is silver gray, A braid with all of the love that you have, like a soft silver chain.” One of her greatest vocal performances.
4. Rhiannon – The first single from the new lineup of Fleetwood Mac, from their self-titled album. it peaked at #11, and ushered in the new FM era. But Stevie had her doubts …
I didn’t want them to release Rhiannon as a single because I thought, ’What if she doesn’t make it? What if my Rhiannon falls flat on her face? Then, it’s not my choice to release her as a single, she is a mythological goddess of horses and steeds and maker of birds and she’s a brilliant, brilliant character…what if she falls flat on her face?’
I didn’t write Rhiannon for commerciality. I wrote Rhiannon because I loved her name and I loved her story. I didn’t write her to be sold, she simply is not for sale and has never been.”
3. Bella Donna – “You can ride high atop your pony, I know you won’t fall, cause the whole thing’s phony.” And with that opening line, Stevie began her solo career.
“’Bella Donna’ is a term of endearment I use and the title is about making a lot of decisions in my life, making a change based on the turmoil in my soul. You get to a certain age where you want to slow down, be quieter. The title song was basically a warning to myself and a question to others. I’m thirty-three years old, and my life has been very up and down in the last six years”
2. Landslide – From Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album, it’s one of the most covered songs in history. It’s a timeless classic.
“It was written in 1973 at a point where Lindsey and I had driven to Aspen for him to rehearse for two weeks with Don Everly. Lindsey was going to take Phil’s place. So they rehearsed and left, and I made a choice to stay in Aspen. I figured I’d stay there and one of my girlfriends was there. We stayed there for almost three months while Lindsey was on the road, and this is right after the Buckingham Nicks record had been dropped. And it was horrifying to Lindsey and I because we had a taste of the big time, we recorded in a big studio, we met famous people, we made what we consider to be a brilliant record and nobody liked it (laughs). I had been a waitress and a cleaning lady, and I didn’t mind any of this. I was perfectly delighted to work and support us so that Lindsey could produce and work and fix our songs and make our music.
But I had gotten to a point where it was like, “I’m not happy. I am tired. But I don’t know if we can do any better than this. If nobody likes this, then what are we going to do?”
So during that two months I made a decision to continue. “Landslide” was the decision. “When you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills” – it’s the only time in my life that I’ve lived in the snow. But looking up at those Rocky Mountains and going, “Okay, we can do it. I’m sure we can do it.” In one of my journal entries, it says, “I took Lindsey and said, ’We’re going to the top!'” And that’s what we did. Within a year, Mick Fleetwood called us, and we were in Fleetwood Mac making $800 a week apiece. Washing $100 bills through the laundry. It was hysterical. It was like we were rich overnight.”
1. Edge Of Seventeen – The greatest rock song of the 80’s, it was the third single from Bella Donna, peaking at #11. This is the song that, for me, defines Stevie and her magic.
I had lived up in the hills with Jimmy [Iovine] for almost six months. He was coming to the end of Tom Petty’s album…it seemed I had waited a long time, and since no one really knew where I was, I was starting to get very edgy to do something…. I was also starting to feel very unimportant and very sorry for myself. I was ready to begin Bella Donna and it seemed like it would just never happen. Jimmy had told me many times about his incredible friendship with John Lennon; how John had taken Jimmy in and taught him to record. He was his teacher… and I was entranced because I could not imagine these two together. Anyway, it was a real life fairy tale and I believed it. Then one grey day, the fairy tale ended… Jimmy’s friend was dead… But Jimmy’s love for John did not die. A terrible sadness set in over the house, there was simply nothing I could say. So I went home… Jimmy would have to go this one alone.
I went home to Phoenix… and went to visit my uncle (who was very sick), not knowing that no one but his son, John, was there… and I sat on his bedside, while John sat on the floor beside him, and we stayed there. My father did not come, nor my mother… nor my aunt… so I sat there and held his hand, and sometime right about sunset, he turned his head slightly to John, and then to me, and his hand slowly let go of mine. I did run out into the hallway, but no one was there… and the white winged dove took flight…”
Okay, your turn!