Looking back on Stevie Nicks’ nearly 50 years in the music industry, the Gold Dust Woman has proven herself to be one of rock’s most celebrated songwriters. She has already produced more enduring hits than most – including “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” “Dreams” and “Edge of Seventeen – and Nicks shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
While those songs named above made Nicks, along with the rest of Fleetwood Mac, a household name, she has also written many other tracks that are just as valuable as those classic rock mainstays. Let’s take a dive into some of the lesser-known Stevie Nicks tracks below.
1. “Crystal” (From Fleetwood Mac, 1975)
Nicks can’t seem to shake “Crystal.” The track has popped up a number of times throughout her career, but the most famed version is amongst the ranks of Nicks’ debut with Fleetwood Mac, which sees Lindsey Buckingham on lead vocals.
Nicks first introduced the song on Buckingham Nicks a few years before the duo joined the iconic group. She later dusted off the tune for use in the 1998 film Practical Magic – which is a personal favorite. Other than its seemingly essential nature to Nicks’ career, it’s mystical and dreamy to boot. Everything you’d want in a good Nicks song.
2. “Outside the Rain” (From Bella Donna, 1981)
Nicks’ debut solo album gave the world a handful of her greatest hits, including the Tom Petty-assisted “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and arguably her most famous song “Edge of Seventeen.” While those tracks are usually mainstays on her solo setlists, another song off the debut used to be a crowd pleaser in its own right, “Outside the Rain.”
Reminiscent of the breezy drum beat of “Dreams,” Nicks wistfully sings about the struggle of finding love and getting it to stick. She sings love is a word that some entertain. If you find it, you have won the game. The song acted as the opener for many of her performances of the era. Though it didn’t measure up in the charts, Nicks knew it was an important track from her first solo effort.
3. “That’s Alright” (From Mirage, 1982)
Even after clinching a No. 1 solo album, Nicks returned to Fleetwood Mac for their first record of the MTV era, Mirage. Though Nicks’ “Gypsy” would become the charmer of the album (as well as the first MTV music video to cost $1 million), another country-tinged song is an underrated standout, “That’s Alright.”
The song finds Nicks in a proverbial train station as she contemplates moving on and leaving her lover. She asks him to meet her there even though she knows she will be gone by the time he arrives – in her own words, I’m through waiting for you. If Nicks knows how to do anything, it’s how to write a breakup song, and “That’s Alright” is another perfect yearning ode.
4. “Illume” (From Say You Will, 2003)
Fleetwood Mac’s first album of new material in the new millennium saw big changes in the line-up (Christine McVie parted ways with the band after the success of their comeback album The Dance in the late ’90s) and in society as a whole.
The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were still fresh and Nicks happened to be in New York at the time, supporting her latest solo effort. Nicks was channeling all the loss and despair felt around the city when she wrote “Illume.” Across the song, she drops references to New York, whose coastline glitters like a diamond snake in a black sky. She sings I cannot pretend / That the heartache falls away / It’s just like a river, it’s never-ending. Nicks perfectly captured the emotions of the era with this track.
5. “Races are Run” (From Buckingham Nicks, 1973)
Before Nicks and Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac, they ventured to start a career of their own as a duo. Though a few of the songs taken from their debut album, Buckingham Nicks, eventually found success under the Fleetwood Mac moniker, the album didn’t pick up the way they hoped it would upon its release.
Despite its middling success on the charts, the album has glimmering moments throughout, including “Races are Run.” Written by Nicks for the duo, the track touches on leaving their former band The Fritz. There were a lot of hard feelings to work through after their departure, many of which she grapples with in this track. It’s a shining moment on a debut effort that is widely underrated.
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