Skip to main content

Enter your email below to be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Please enter a valid email address
Please accept the terms
Best Stevie Nicks Songs: 20 Solo Classics From The Wild Heart Of Rock
MediaPunch Inc/Alamy Stock Photo
List & Guides

Best Stevie Nicks Songs: 20 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.

Back

There has been no shortage of drama in Stevie Nicks’ life, yet her confessional style of songwriting (she has stated that she doesn’t write “fiction”) has turned her experiences into exquisite rock art for the rest of us. After finding mega-fame with Fleetwood Mac in the 70s, Nicks stepped out with her solo debut album, 1981’s Bella Donna; she kept the two parallel careers for nearly another decade, before leaving Fleetwood Mac in 1990. In that time, the best Stevie Nicks songs covered differing styles and intensities, yet all had an undeniable “Stevieness” at their core.

“When you keep music in your life, I think it just changes you and pulls you out of a deep hole,” Nicks reflected to The New Yorker in 2022. “Whenever I’m depressed, I just put music on.”

From sample-ready riffs to majestic ballads, the best Stevie Nicks songs have the power to dig you out of the deepest and darkest of holes.

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

20: Sorcerer (with (from ‘Trouble In Shangri-La’, 2001)

Sorcerer dates right back to the early 70s and Stevie Nicks’ years working in a duo with Lindsey Buckingham, before the pair joined the most famous of Fleetwood Mac’s line-ups. The song was recorded as a demo, and performed live by the duo, but not included on their sole album, Buckingham Nicks. Sorcerer was also considered, but again rejected, for Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 album, Tusk, and the 1983 solo Nicks album, The Wild Heart. Nicks then gave it to Marilyn Martin, who recorded it for the Streets Of Fire soundtrack (with Nicks on backing vocals). She finally released Sorcerer herself on her sixth album, Trouble In Shangri-La. With a little help from Sheryl Crow – who was a longstanding Nicks fan – the 2001 version of Sorcerer emerges as one of the best Stevie Nicks songs, with a soulful vocal performance from its creator. “Sheryl challenged me to explore different areas of my voice,” Nicks has said. “It was fun to do, and it wound up working so well within the song’s arrangement.”

19: Stand Back (from ‘The Wild Heart’, 1983)

Nicks had a short-lived marriage at the start of 1983. Grief-stricken by the death of her best friend, Robin Snyder Anderson (the inspiration behind the song Gypsy, from Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 album, Mirage), Nicks and Robin’s husband, Kim, wed. “We got married three months after she died, and it was a terrible, terrible mistake,” Nicks has said. “We didn’t get married because we were in love, we got married because we were grieving and it was the only way that we could feel like we were doing anything.” Just after the Nicks-Anderson marriage, Nicks heard Prince’s Little Red Corvette on the radio and was immediately inspired to write Stand Back; she rang Prince to tell him and, when the song was recorded, he came into play synths on it. Then, “he just got up and left, as if the whole thing happened in a dream”, Nicks later recalled. This scorching pop song features incredibly strong, husky Nicks vocals, and was the obvious choice as first single from her second solo album, The Wild Heart.

18: How Still My Love (from ‘Bella Donna’, 1981)

“I really don’t write extremely sexual songs, never have,” Stevie Nicks said in 2009. “But How Still My Love really is a sexy song, and being that it’s one of my few sexy songs, when we do it onstage it’s fun. It’s kind of woozy and it’s slow, but it’s got a really great beat.” The song’s title was inspired by two books, How Still My Love and In The Still Of The Night (“but I never even opened up the books, so I have no idea what they were about”, Nicks has admitted). She said that she knew it had to be on Bella Donna from the start, and it remains one of the best Stevie Nicks songs to this day.

17: I Can’t Wait (from ‘Rock A Little’, 1985)

“To understand this song, you sort of have to let yourself go a little crazy,” Nicks wrote in her detailed linear notes for her 1991 greatest hits, Timespace. “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.” Given that Nicks often lets songs stew for years or even decades before she records them, I Can’t Wait is unique in her catalogue for the immense speed with which it was written and recorded. It started when her friend Rick Nowels played her this “incredible percussion thing”, which Nicks immediately transformed into I Can’t Wait. That same night, Nicks and Nowels went into the studio to record it. “I sang it only once, and have never sung it since in the studio,” Nicks wrote. “Some vocals are magic and simply not able to beat.”

16: If Anyone Falls (from ‘The Wild Heart’, 1983)

With lyrics inspired by guitarist Waddy Wachtel (“a real rock and roller”, Nicks has written, “… and a lover of the Stones… small and frail sometimes, but in many ways the strongest person I have ever known”), If Anyone Falls grew from an instrumental synth track into one of the best Stevie Nicks songs of the 80s. The music was written by singer-songwriter Sandy Stewart, and Nicks heard it via the producer Gordon Perry. “The next thing I know,” Stewart remarked wryly in 1984, “Gordon’s saying, ‘You can’t have it back. They want to use it on Stevie’s next album.’”

15: Every Day (from ‘Trouble In Shangri-La’, 2001)

Stevie Nicks has always prized her intuition, and it was this that brought her to Every Day, which had been written especially for Nicks by John Shanks and Damon Johnson. Nicks saw the song’s title on the envelope which contained the demo, made the connection with the Buddy Holly song of the same name, and decided right there to record it. It proved a good choice: sophisticated, sultry and lush, Every Day was the lead single from Trouble In Shangri-La, and it gave Nicks her first US hit since 1994.

14: The Dealer (from ‘24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault’, 2014)

“Each song is a lifetime,” Nicks wrote about the album 24 Karat Gold. “Each song has a soul… they represent my life behind the scenes, the secrets, the broken hearts, the broken-hearted and the survivors.” On that 2014 album, Nicks revisited her past and recorded new versions of songs that had only existed as demos – some going right back to 1969. The Dealer was from the late 70s; originally written for Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, it is a gem among the best Stevie Nicks songs, with strong hunter-gets-captured-by-the-game lyrical imagery.

13: Blue Lamp (from ‘Heavy Metal’ soundtrack, 1981)

Heavy Metal is a 1981 Canadian animated anthology film, much more akin to Japanese anime than mainstream North American fare (which, at the time, tended to equate cartoons with children’s entertainment). The film deals in violence, sex and nudity, and boasts a rock soundtrack featuring Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Devo – and Stevie Nicks. Blue Lamp is a fantastic Nicks rarity, featuring spacey vocals, a driving beat and opaque lyrics. It was eventually remastered and treated to a wider release as part of the 2016 deluxe-edition reissue of Bella Donna.

12: Bella Donna (from ‘Bella Donna’, 1981)

The eponymous opening track of Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album was always going to hold a special place among the best Stevie Nicks songs. Following the lengthy tour to support Tusk, the sound of the words “bella” and “donna” really took root within Nicks and helped propel her to her own music, away from Fleetwood Mac. “If you listen to the words to Bella Donna you will realise I am not writing about a beautiful woman,” she has said. “I’m writing about the possibility of any woman not being beautiful anymore and just turning into an old, used-up woman.” Nicks was worried that her moment was passing, and “it scared me and I didn’t like it, and I decided that I had to go out and do something alone without the rest of everybody that had surrounded me for a long time”, she admitted. “And Bella Donna is really the symbol of that.”

11: Whenever I Call You “Friend” (with Kenny Loggins) (from ‘Nightwatch’, 1978)

Stevie Nicks was dipping her toe outside Fleetwood Mac as she lent her vocals to this disco-inflected AOR jam found on Loggins’ second solo album, Nightwatch. However, Nicks didn’t have much agency in the creation of the song, as she explained in 1982. “I call him Slave-Driver Loggins,” she said. “He cracked the whip on me for two days to get that particular performance. And I was downright angry at points where I was going, ‘I’m not going to do this.’ He said, ‘Yes, you are.’” The results were worth it, and Nicks’ performance on Whenever I Call You “Friend” ensures the track’s place among the best Stevie Nicks songs. “He’s a real good producer, Kenny, he got exactly what he wanted,” Nicks added. “When it was done and I left, I was knocked out. I really had to keep my mouth shut and do what I was told. And it worked. He wasn’t interested in a dull vocal.”

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.”

More Like This

Best Christmas Songs: 70 Classic Tracks For The Holiday Season
List & Guides

Best Christmas Songs: 70 Classic Tracks For The Holiday Season

From festive celebrations to seasonal sass and holiday heartbreak, the best Christmas songs cover all the Yuletide bases.

Best Pogues Songs: 20 Of The Best From Shane MacGowan’s Crew
List & Guides

Best Pogues Songs: 20 Of The Best From Shane MacGowan’s Crew

They were rowdy, rebellious and volatile, but Shane MacGowan and co built their catalogue to last – as the best Pogues songs attest.

Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Sign Up