As spooky season gets into full swing, Roisin talks about why Stevie Nicks is, for her, the ultimate mystic icon.
With Halloween coming up, it only seemed fitting to write a piece on the mystic icon that is Stevie Nicks. Making up one fifth of the group Fleetwood Mac, you can say without hesitation that she certainly brought an element of magic to the group. Her haunting lyrics and howling vocals are immediately distinguishable, making her hard to compare to anyone else. As a solo artist, Nicks has released albums such as Crystal Visions and Enchanted; it’s hard to ignore the mystic character she portrays herself as. Nicks’ witchy image even landed her a position on tv show American Horror Story: Coven – while this isn’t music related, you get the ambiance I’m trying to relay.
Nicks’ on-stage presence is completely bewitching to me. I feel entranced by her – something which isn’t difficult, as she’s mesmerising. She manages to cast an almost spell-like trance over the audience through what she wears on stage, which she labelled her uniform. Nicks generally wears flowing black dresses and shawls – most famously on the Rumours album cover but also in her concerts, both with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. The shawl may seem like a dated item of clothing, but it is so symbolic for Nicks’ image – almost like a makeshift set of wings, I think this is what makes me feel so entranced by her.
She famously said in an interview: ‘I’ll be very, very sexy under eighteen pounds of chiffon and lace and velvet. And nobody will know who I really am’. As this demonstrates, her goal was to create this mysterious persona; she was a character when she was on stage, not another girl from Arizona trying to pursue a dream that was sold to her.
'Her goal was to create this mysterious persona; she was a character when she was on stage, not another girl from Arizona trying to pursue a dream that was sold to her'.
How Nicks moves on stage is heavily impacted by her ‘uniform’. Her shawl and dresses follow her as she moves around the stage, spinning around like a tornado. One may question why she would spin around like this with her arms outstretched, but standing at only 5ft 3, it was important for Nicks to add this space to her performance. She wanted to be seen and felt in every corner of the room.
A lot of what inspired me to write this opinion piece was listening to the music she produced as a solo artist and with Fleetwood Mac – undeniably, these artists changed the way I listen to music. All I want to do when I listen to the music they produce is focus on the lyrics, and I don’t think there’s a song from either party which is heavily laced with symbolism. However, in this article I’m particularly focusing on the mysticism in the songs, and I’ve listed five songs here which I feel are perfect for Halloween (or any time of the year if you love Stevie Nicks as much as I do!).
'Standing at only 5ft 3, it was important for Nicks to add this space to her performance. She wanted to be seen and felt in every corner of the room'.
1) Rhiannon: Rhiannon is possibly the most obvious song of Fleetwood Mac’s that has a mystical basis to it. The Rhiannon it refers to is a Welsh witch goddess, and as such the song has endless connotations and metaphors that relate to witches – for example, referring to Rhiannon as a ‘cat in the night’. In addition, she was also the goddess of dreams and poetry, which explains why Nicks sings ‘dreams unwind, love’s a state of mind’. According to legend, humans would dream about loving Rhiannon, but the laws of mythology would not allow it.
2) Edge of Seventeen: I would say Edge of Seventeen explores the theme of mysticism in the sense that Nicks artistically portrays the afterlife. The song was written as a way for her to deal with her grief after the deaths of her uncle and John Lennon. In an interview, Nicks explained that the lyrics ‘just like a white winged dove’ was her way of representing the spirit leaving the body once it had died.
3) Dreams: Although Dreams isn’t the most mystical song on the Rumours album, where there’s Stevie Nicks, there’s hints of mysticism. On this track, she sings: ‘Now here I go again / I see the crystal vision / I keep my visions to myself’. For those who don’t know, crystal gazing is a form of divination that is said to help those who are able to look into and foretell the future.
4) Sisters of the Moon: Appearing on the Tusk album, Sisters of the Moon seems to me to be a personification of Nicks herself, as the lyric ‘her black robes trailing’ echo her outfits as a performer. There are also other witchy lyrics such as ‘they like to wrap her in velvet’, which could be an allusion to the witchcraft practice of tarot; the cards used are often wrapped in velvet to protect the cards from physical damage and negative energy.
5) Silver Springs: Similar to Dreams, Silver Springs appears on the Rumours album and harks back to witchcraft. Nicks sings ‘time cast a spell on you, but you won’t forget me’ in such a way that it’s almost as if you want this charm to be cast upon you.
Even though this is just a brief introduction to the mysticism of Stevie Nicks’ music, it’s a great place to start when thinking about assembling that all-important spooky Halloween playlist. Let us know if you have more suggestions!