The Petty Archives

Music: Stevie Nicks
By Russ DeVault
The Modesto Bee - Friday, October 6, 1989

ATLANTA -- Stevie Nicks may be an unapproachable, larger-than-life figure to her fans, but Tom Petty can tell her to shut up, Bob Dylan doesn't have to, and both her heart and body are vulnerable.

What's more, Nicks is mad at the Australian government, and her current fantasy is having someone -- preferable an executive at Atlantic, her record company -- give her a Lear jet so she doesn't have to worry about excess baggage when she travels.

All of that emerged during a phone interview from Chicago while the 41-year-old singer was enjoying a few days off from her tour to promote "The Other Side of the Mirror," her third solo album since joining the irregularly working Fleetwood Mac in 1975.

A blond, lush-lipped beauty, Nicks is best known for her dreamy, impressionistic songs about witches, gypsies and affairs of her hart. But she can occasionally be remarkably direct and pragmatic.

Discussing her friendship with Petty, who helped her record the hit single "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" in 1981, she said, "I call Tom when I'm upset or questioning my existence on this planet. He can tell me that I'm just having a bad day, to shut up and go to bed, and I'll take it.

"He doesn't lie, and he doesn't say things to flatter people. He just tells you the truth."

However, Dylan doesn't have to say anything to intimidate Nicks, who went along as a non-performing guest when he and Petty toured Australia two years ago.

"I got to watch them put their personalities together, and it was fascinating," she said. "I watched some -- well, not exactly rows -- but a little bit of going back and forth between them."

During one stop, Dylan unexpectedly motioned Nicks onstage. "He put me between him and Tom and started a song and then backed off so I could sing, I was completely and utterly stupefied," she said. "Thank God, my voice worked."

But when Nicks went onstage a second night, Australian officials took exception because she didn't have a work permit. She said she was told that if she kept performing, she "wouldn't be welcome again in Australia."

Those and other experiences Down Under didn't work her way into the songs on "The Other Side of the Mirror," but much of what Nicks writes is rooted in her reality. Thus, "Two Kinds of Love" incorporates aspects of her relationship with Petty, and "Long Way to Go" is a stinging farewell to a former lover (maybe Lindsay Buckingham, her musical and romantic partner when they joined Fleetwood Mac?).

"I was really angry at the person I wrote that song about. It's a lot of fun to perform because it has a definite attitude that audiences can pick up on."

What the crowds haven't noticed during her tour is that Nicks has been performing first with a broken foot and then a severely sprained ankle. All they've realized is that Nicks, who prefers to perform in boots that make her appear taller than 5-foot-3, has been wearing rhinestone-decorated Reeboks.

"I broke my foot in a swimming pool this summer, and was in a cast for eight weeks. I just got out of it when the tour began," she said. "And I had to have all my dresses altered because without my boots, I'm five inches shorter.

Nicks' tour is built on the enormous success of Fleetwood Mac and the fact that her three LPs have total sales of more than $4 million. But she's still waiting for Atlantic Records to give her a jet so she doesn't have to worry about how much luggage she packs.

"I've already been told to drop half the stuff I'm traveling with," she said, laughing, and then doing her best to sound like she's whining, "I want a jet and I want it now."

She was still laughing wickedly when she hung up.