A biography of Stevie Nicks does little to dispel the magic

Cover00 (5)Emily Gould at Bookforum:

Early in Stephen Davis’s workmanlike unauthorized biography of Stevie Nicks, we witness the circumstances of her most enduring creation’s birth. Twenty-six-year-old Nicks—sick and tired of waitressing; struggling with the controlling behavior of her boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham; fighting to keep their flailing band, Buckingham Nicks, alive—was holed up in sound engineer Keith Olsen’s house. High on LSD—“the only time I ever did it,” Nicks says—she spent three straight days listening to Joni Mitchell’s just-released album Court and Spark on Olsen’s giant speakers. The record inspired her on both a technical and a thematic level. What Mitchell was describing, with unusual candor, were the perks and pitfalls of being a female rock star. When she heard it, Nicks had a premonition, or received a warning. After she came down, she composed the song that would make the prophecy of megafame real and that she would perform in various versions for decades to come. She left the demo cassette of “Rhiannon” for Buckingham with a note: “Here is a new song. You can produce it, but don’t change it.”

This story, like many of the tales people tell about Nicks and that Nicks tells about herself, is goofy and vague but still suffused with genuine magic. The Stevie Nicks legend is full of prophecies: She has always had dreams that literally come true.

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