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Stevie Nicks Songs: 10 Solo Classics From The Wild Heart Of Rock
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List & Guides

Stevie Nicks Songs: 10 Solo Classics From The Wild Heart Of Rock

Mercurial and majestic, the best Stevie Nicks songs prove she was a singer with plenty to offer beyond Fleetwood Mac.

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After finding mega-fame with Fleetwood Mac in the 70s, Stevie Nicks proved she had plenty more to offer when she stepped out with her solo debut album, 1981’s Bella Donna. From sample-ready riffs to majestic ballads, the best Stevie Nicks songs reveal why she will always be the wild heart of rock.

Listen to the best of Stevie Nicks here, and check out our best Stevie Nicks songs, below.

10: Planets Of The Universe (from ‘Trouble In Shangri-La, 2001)

Planets Of The Universe was first recorded as a demo for Fleetwood Mac’s smash 1977 album, Rumours – perhaps unsurprisingly, given its Rhiannon-style opening. That beautiful solo piano rendition was later included on an expanded reissue of Rumours, released in 2004, by which time Nicks had recorded and released an edited version of the song on her 2001 album, Trouble In Shangri-La. While the production on that release is somewhat dated today (think the kind of Europop sound Cher was also keen on), it offers a brilliant demonstration of Nicks’ writing talents and the wealth of material she brought to the table in the 70s. (Nicks had released a longer version in 2000, but later omitted a couple of verses, reputedly because she decided they were too harsh on her ex and fellow-bandmate, Lindsey Buckingham).

9: Beauty And The Beast (from ‘The Wild Heart’, 1983)

With Beauty And The Beast, Nicks offers a masterclass in opulent drama. Backed by an orchestra and a grand piano, she shares her take on the classic fairy tale, singing over stirring strings and harp for a deeply moving and decadent number that sees out The Wild Heart as her backing singers whisper “La belle… et la bête…”. It’s an unlikely finish to the album, but one that shows Stevie could do heartfelt ballads as well as anything else she set that enchanting voice to.

8: Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You (from ‘Rock A Little’, 1985)

Nicks penned Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You for the musician Joe Walsh, with whom she was in a relationship at the time, and who she described as “my great, great love” in a 2007 interview with The Daily Telegraph. The song was written for Walsh’s eldest daughter, who had died in a car accident in 1974, aged three. Appearing on Nicks’ 1985 album, Rock A Little, it peaked at No.60 on the Billboard charts and is a beautiful soft-rock tribute among the best Stevie Nicks songs.

7: Leather And Lace (with Don Henley) (from ‘Bella Donna’, 1981)

Another duet, another opportunity to show just how perfectly Nicks could perform alongside other artists. Here, that would be Eagles’ frontman, Don Henley. Nicks is the lace to his leather on this track – her voice a frothy, taut delight that dances round the dependable sound of Henley. Originally penned by Nicks for Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, Leather And Lace went unused until Nicks’ own version hit the Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

6: After The Glitter Fades (from ‘Bella Donna’, 1981)

With its gorgeous country sound (thanks to Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel work), After The Glitter Fades is a perfect summary of Nicks’ career. Opening with the line “Well I never thought I’d make it here in Hollywood”, it charts the ride she’d taken from dreaming of being a singer-songwriter to being part of one of the biggest bands on the planet – with quite a few wild experiences along the way. It’s also interesting that this song appears on Nicks’ debut album – her first step away from the behemoth of Fleetwood Mac, and a time to prove herself as formidable a songwriter and singer as her 70s counterparts.

Speaking of her time in Fleetwood Mac following the release of Bella Donna, Nicks told US magazine in October 1981, “You’re very protected and dependent. For so long you’re not allowed to make your own decisions that suddenly you don’t want to any more. Doing my solo album was the only step I could take to show I still had control.” Here she sounds in complete control, aided by her chosen backing vocalists and friends Lori Perry and Sharon Celani, who feature prominently on the record and help to give it a beautiful feminine feel, making Bella Donna very much a Nicks solo project.

5: Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (with Tom Petty) (from ‘Bella Donna’, 1981)

Speaking of Tom Petty, it would be crazy not to include this sensational duet among the best Stevie Nicks songs. Recorded for Nicks’ 1981 solo debut, Bella Donna, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around was co-written by Petty and Campbell, and has The Heartbreakers’ classic Americana sound stamped all over it. Producer Jimmy Iovine, who was working with Petty and who wanted to market a solo Stevie Nicks as a female counterpart to the heartland star, arranged for her to sing on the track. It was a good decision, as Nicks’ vocal entwines perfectly with Petty’s, making for a smooth-sounding number with punchy lyrics (“Baby, you could never look me in the eye/Yeah, you buckle with the weight of the words”) that really land when the pair belt them out to perfect effect.

4: Blue Denim (from ‘Street Angel’, 1994)

Kicking off 1994’s Street Angel, Blue Denim is the highlight from Nicks’ only album of the 90s. The record marked a strange point in Nicks’ life, as she had recently left Fleetwood Mac and was in the throes of battling a prescription drug addiction. She was also unhappy with how it turned out, with most of the Street Angel songs coming from old demos, rather than new compositions.

Blue Denim, however, is a gloriously rocky affair with fizzing guitar work courtesy of Mike Campbell. Part of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Campbell had also worked on Don Henley’s US hit Boys Of Summer and would replace Lindsey Buckingham in the 2018-2019 line-up of Fleetwood Mac. Who is the man of the song, with “bright eyes and blue denim”? That would be Buckingham, unsurprisingly.

3: Rooms On Fire (from ‘The Other Side Of The Mirror’, 1989)

Another perfect example of Nicks’ magical songwriting. Shimmering percussion and Spanish-style guitar frame this song, which Nicks revealed was about “a girl who goes through a life like I have gone through, where she finally accepts the idea that there never will be those other things in her life. She will never be married, she will never have children, she will never do [that] part of life.” The song appeared on her fourth album, 1989’s The Other Side Of The Mirror, whose title was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass, and it also became a Top 20 single on both sides of the Atlantic. A majestic number.

2: Wild Heart (from ‘The Wild Heart’, 1983)

Serious Stevie fans may already be familiar with the perfect version of Wild Heart that exists: Stevie singing the song while having her make-up done backstage for a Rolling Stone photoshoot in 1981. It’s an acoustic, spur-of-the-moment thing, and is easily one of the most stunning Stevie Nicks performances around. If studio version had been recorded in this style for her 1983 album, The Wild Heart, then it would easily top this list of the best Stevie Nicks songs. As it stands, the official version’s production doesn’t let Nicks take centre-stage, but it does showcase the dexterity of her vocal range and that unmatched, idiosyncratic singing style.

1: Edge Of Seventeen (from ‘Bella Donna’, 1981)

There’s a whole generation who may recognise the opening of Edge Of Seventeen from a different song, thanks to Destiny’s Child having sampled it for their 2001 mega hit Bootylicious. It’s easy to see why it was prime fodder, with that fantastic chugging guitar intro by long-term Nicks collaborator Waddy Wachtel, inspired by the opening to The Police’s Bring On The Night.

Nicks supposedly got the title for the song when she misheard Tom Petty’s then wife, Jane, saying that her and Petty had met at “the age of 17”. Meanwhile, the lyrics – and the “white-winged dove” – were inspired by the deaths of John Lennon and her own uncle John. Topping our list of the best Stevie Nicks songs, Edge Of Seventeen is an emotive, fascinating song that swoops and soars, and contains some of Nicks’ most poetic and allegorical imagery, such as, “And the days go by, like a strand in the wind/In the web that is my own, I begin again.”

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