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The Purbalite

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Essential Listening: Nicks still casts spells with solo work

Stevie Nicks performs a mix of Fleetwood Mac songs and solo work in Pittsburgh on September 27, 2023.
Evelyn Esek
Stevie Nicks performs a mix of Fleetwood Mac songs and solo work in Pittsburgh on September 27, 2023.

Tired of your Spotify playlists? The Purbalite is here to help with our Essential Listening series. 

Singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks chose to take a break from her band Fleetwood Mac and release a solo album in 1981. The result: Bella Donna, one of Nicks’s best creative works, and the start of a successful solo career.

One standout track on the album is the penultimate track, “Outside the Rain.” She starts her live show with this song, and her concert version is very similar to the recording on the album. She highlights her raspy vocals well on this track. 

Her years-long friendship with fellow singer Tom Petty is shown through their duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” backed by Petty’s band the Heartbreakers. Nicks and Petty wrote several songs together and enjoyed sharing the stage until his death in 2017. 

Coincidentally, Petty’s wife, with her thick Southern accent, accidentally provided the title for the song “Edge of Seventeen” when she mentioned that she met her husband at the “age of 17.”

The other duet on the album features Nicks’s voice blended with that of Don Henley of the Eagles. “Leather and Lace” switches between the husky female rock star tone and the classic rock heartthrob voice of Henley. At the end of the song, the harmony of their blended voices is beautiful.

Edge of Seventeen,” Nicks’s signature rock anthem, is the first track on side two of the album. The driving rhythm and guitar riffs by longtime drummer Russ Kunkel and guitarist Waddy Wachtel make the song an instant classic. The song has even been made fun of on Family Guy, with Peter Griffin twirling in a pink silk cape.

After the Glitter Fades” features some of Nicks’s most raw songwriting. She touches on her time living in the Hollywood spotlight and the struggles of a female in the music industry at the time. 

“For me, it’s the only life that I’ve ever known / And love is only one fine star away / Even though the living is sometimes laced with lies, it’s alright / The feeling remains even after the glitter fades,” she sings.

Stevie Nicks has been a cultural icon since the 1970s, with many artists citing her as an influence. Taylor Swift even references Nicks in her song “Clara Bow,” and Nicks wrote a poem for the artwork on Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department

Overall, Nicks shows that she is a timeless icon on her own, and she doesn’t need to be defined by her time in Fleetwood Mac. 

Thank you, Purbalite. It’s been awesome. 

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About the Contributor
Evelyn Esek
Evelyn Esek, News Editor
News Editor Evelyn Esek is a senior and a third-year member of the Purbalite. She is in the BHS color guard and loves knitting and crocheting, collecting vinyl records, and listening to music.
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