Stevie Nicks has a lot to be thankful for. When we met the former Fleetwood Mac singer in Los Angeles this spring, she had just finished a sold-out show at the Wiltern Theatre, where she celebrated her 63rd birthday with an adoring crowd. She also had just released In Your Dreams, her first album in a decade — and her favorite from her storied solo career — to critical acclaim and a top 10 slot on the Billboard charts.
The album covers a wide range of subjects, from vampires to the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, and one of the highlights of the album, "Soldier's Angel," focuses on Nicks' thanks for and support of injured troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the suggestion of a friend, Nicks first visited injured soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., in 2005. "I walked out of there after 11 hours, at 2 in the morning," she says, "and I knew I would never be the same." Since, she's returned many times, often with iPods filled with music for patients, and she's invited troops to her concerts when she's performed nearby.
She knew she wanted to include a song in tribute to them on her new album, but she was having a hard time finishing the arrangement in the studio. "Finally", she says, "I told Dave, (Stewart, the former Eurythmic and producer of In Your Dreams) ‘I've gotta call Lindsay.'" Lindsay, of course, is Lindsay Buckingham, her band mate in Fleetwood Mac and long time former love. The result is a haunting arrangement, featuring Buckingham alone on guitar and backing vocals, putting a spotlight on Nicks' voice and lyrics. "I want the song to draw attention to what happens to the soldiers when they come home, and their aftercare," she says. "That's why I say I am a soldier's girl — it means I'm supportive of them. Publishing royalties from the song will go to the soldiers."
At the Wiltern, she stops the show and tells the audience the story of her involvement at Walter Reed, and how important the song and the troops' families are to her. To thundering applause, Buckingham then comes out to play "Soldier's Angel," and it's clearly one of the highlights of the evening.
As for the album as a whole, Nicks is reflective and proud. "I felt like I touched on so many subjects. From vampires to "Italian Summer," which was written in the mid-70's, these songs are so off the wall in how different they are. You usually stay on the same thread, and this record goes everywhere. Still, I feel I did exactly what I set out to do. Dave and I made a promise to each other the record was not coming out until we knew it was done. And it's done!"