Stevie Nicks has been one of the most captivating figures in music since she burst onto the scene as a Fleetwood Mac front-woman in the ’70s. While the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup of Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood would release albums and tour into the ’80s, with reunions in the next two decades, Nicks released her debut solo album, Bella Donna, in 1981. The album was a hit, and spawned some of the most famous Stevie Nicks songs.
She’d go on to make three more classic records that decade: The Wild Heart (1983), Rock a Little (1985) and The Other Side of the Mirror (1989), and she kept busy with further releases, including compilations and live albums, in the ’90s and beyond.
Stevie Nicks songs are characterized by their evocative romance and mystical imagery. Her songwriting, vocals and style are totally singular and instantly recognizable, and have earned her a new generation of admirers who can’t get enough of her bohemian presence. We’ve gathered 15 of Stevie’s dreamiest songs, all of which are sure to add some magic to your day.
1. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (1981)
This duet between Nicks and the late rock icon Tom Petty was the first single from Nicks’ first solo album. She got off to an auspicious start: while this is the only song on Bella Donna Nicks didn’t write or co-write (it was written by Petty and his bandmate Mike Campbell), but it’s a perfect showcase for her powerful vocals, and the interplay between her and Petty is truly irresistible. The song came about because Nicks was a big fan of Petty and wanted to work together. While Petty was initially skeptical, fearing she wasn’t artistic enough due to Fleetwood Mac’s massive success, those fears were quickly put to rest, given how well they worked together.
2. “After the Glitter Fades” (1981)
Fading glitter is one of those haunting, nostalgic images that only Nicks could come up with. This reflective tune has a dash of country flavor, and was covered by Glen Campbell in 1984. Nicks originally thought another glitter-loving songstress might want to put her mark on “After the Glitter Fades” — she supposedly had Dolly Parton in mind when she wrote it, and thought the song would be perfect for her to sing.
3. “Leather and Lace” (1981)
“Leather and Lace,” with all the contrasts it conjures up, could easily describe Nicks bold and confident yet ultra-feminine style. Nicks originally wrote this song for outlaw country musician Waylon Jennings and his wife, Jessi Colter’s album of the same name. Jennings and Colter ended up not including the song, so Nicks recorded it as a duet with Don Henley of The Eagles. Nicks and Henley had a brief relationship in the late ’70s, which gives the ballad an extra layer of romantic drama.
4. “Edge of Seventeen” (1981)
You know you’re in for a good time as soon as you hear that iconic opening guitar riff. That riff is so catchy that Destiny’s Child sampled it in their 2001 hit “Bootylicious” (Nicks even made an appearance in the music video!). Like most Nicks songs, though, there’s far more to “Edge of Seventeen” than just a good tune. The song deals with heavy issues of mortality, and was written following the murder of John Lennon and her uncle’s death from cancer in December of 1980.
The image of a white winged dove suggests the soul leaving the body and hopefully finding peace. Wondering what “Edge of Seventeen” itself actually means? Nicks picked up the phrase from Tom Petty’s then-wife, Jane Benyo. She told Nicks she met her husband at the “age of seventeen,” but due to her thick Southern accent, Nicks heard it as the “edge of seventeen,” and thus a brilliant song was born.
5. “Stand Back” (1983)
Nicks went new wave on this poppy, synthesizer-driven hit. She was inspired to write “Stand Back” after hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” while driving. She loved the song so much that she started writing her own version as soon as she could, building on Prince’s melody. Nicks’ musical dreams came true when Prince came to the recording studio and added his own synthesizer part.
As she recalled of the fateful recording session, “[It] was the coolest thing we’ve ever heard… [it took] him an hour; he gives me a little ‘I don’t really know you’ hug, and he’s gone. Like a little spirit.” Prince’s contribution makes this one of Nicks’ most danceable tracks, and she’s said it’s one of her favorites to perform onstage.
6. “Wild Heart” (1983)
Nicks has never been afraid to embrace her wild side, and “Wild Heart” captures her signature sense of the poetic while speaking to anyone who’s experienced romantic strife. As she said when the song was released, “everybody’s heart is wild, so it’s not like I’ve got any kind of hold on it.” The song has some serious staying power. Years after it was first released, a clip of Nicks singing the song behind the scenes of a photo shoot went viral due to how beautifully it showed off her vocal prowess.
7. “If Anyone Falls” (1983) Stevie Nicks songs
Filled with shuffling synths, “If Anyone Falls” is both poppy and poignant. The instrumental track was originally written by Sandy Stewart, a musician who Nicks described as “brilliant” and the collaborator she’d been praying for. Like many of Nicks’ songs, there are lyrics about dreams, shadows and twilight, proving that even slick ’80s production can’t get in the way of her capacity for romantic mystery.
8. “Beauty and the Beast” (1983)
As a storyteller with a love of fantasy, it makes sense that Nicks would be a fan of fairytales. “Beauty and the Beast” was drawn from Jean Cocteau’s 1946 movie adaptation of the classic story, which Nicks called one her favorite films. She said, “Beauty and the Beast surrounds me everywhere. Everybody I know is either being the Beauty or the Beast.” Whether you feel more like the Beauty or the Beast, this mystical song has something for you to relate to.
9. “I Can’t Wait” (1985) Stevie Nicks songs
Drum machines, a dramatic music video, huge hair and sassy dance moves — “I Can’t Wait” has everything you want in a bombastic ’80s rock song. Sadly, at the time Nicks recorded it, she was struggling with drug addiction, and after the tour for Rock a Little, the album the song appeared on, she checked into rehab. Nicks has spoken about the song as rooted in excitement, and said, “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.”
10. “Rooms on Fire” (1989) Stevie Nicks songs
“Rooms on Fire” features a cinematic music video with a serious gothic romance vibe. Nicks has described the song as being biographical, with a twist. She based it on her status as an unmarried, child-free rock ‘n’ roller, but then went into speculative fantasy, imagining what might happen if she went to a party and formed a mystical connection with a man she met there. She found further inspiration in Rupert Hine, who produced the album the song appeared on, The Other Side of the Mirror. Nicks and Hine had a brief relationship, and she felt that he lit up any room he walked into.
11. “Long Way To Go” (1989)
There’s nothing quite so cathartic as a good breakup song. Nicks said that while she’s remained friends with most of her exes, this particular song was directed at a former lover who she was rightfully angry at. Out of the blue, he called her to come over in the middle of the night, and when she did, she said the words that would become the song’s chorus: “It’s a real long way to go to say goodbye. I thought we already did that. Have fun… tell the world.” This time, the goodbye was permanent.
12. “Blue Denim” (1994) Stevie Nicks songs
Nicks’ tumultuous relationship with Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham inspired many of the band’s best songs, and even in the ’90s, after she’d left Fleetwood Mac, he remained part of her musical mythology. “Blue Denim” is likely about her former flame. She said it “was probably written about Lindsey’s blue eyes because he’s the only person I know that’s got the real blue denim eyes. So it must have been for Lindsey.”
13. “Sorcerer” (2001) Stevie Nicks songs
“Sorcerer” came out in 2001, but it sounds like classic Stevie, and with good reason: She originally wrote it all the way back in 1972. In 1984, singer Marilyn Martin’s version of the song appeared in the cult movie Streets of Fire. Nicks didn’t officially release her own version of the song until her she recorded her album Trouble in Shangri-La, almost 30 years after she first wrote it. The song, which featured Sheryl Crow on guitar and backing vocals, is truly timeless, and once again proved Nicks’ mastery of magical subjects.
14. “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)” (2011)
It was only a matter of time before Nicks wrote a song about vampires — she’d already written about ghosts, beasts and sorcerers, after all. But “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)” isn’t about just any vampire. In an interview with James Corden, she revealed that the song was inspired by the second movie in the Twilight series, New Moon. This mellow song is proof that you’re never too old for a bit of supernatural romantic melodrama.
15. “Lady” (2014)
Nicks has a seemingly endless well of great songs to draw from. She wrote “Lady” in 1971, and felt such a sacred connection to it that she hid the demo tape in her mother’s vintage trunk for decades. She never played the song for her Fleetwood Mac bandmates, and in 2014, she finally re-recorded and released it. The spare, piano-driven ballad, complete with a video of her singing in an empty theater, is devastating in its simplicity.
Stevie Nicks songs stand the test of time
Stevie Nicks’ bewitching songs are always in style. The path she’s carved for herself as an idiosyncratic singer-songwriter who’s not afraid to embrace her spiritual, emotional side is admirable, and she’s still making exciting musical choices many years into her career.
Want to read about more fascinating songs? Check out these articles: