Behind the Song Lyrics: “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

It was Jan. 29, 1983, and Stevie Nicks just got married to Kim Anderson. On a drive to Santa Barbara for their honeymoon, Prince’s 1982 hit “Little Red Corvette” came on the radio, and the newlyweds pulled over to buy a tape recorder so Nicks could capture the melody and song in her head on a demo before it was lost.

“All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m singing along, going, ‘stand back,’said Nicks in a 2018 interview. “I’m like, ’Kim, pull over! We need to buy a tape recorder because I need to record this.’ And so we careen off the freeway to find a radio, record shop or something, and we go in and we buy a little tape recorder.”

Instead of celebrating their honeymoon, Nicks stayed up all night writing the lyrics to one of her biggest solo hits.

“We get the song, and I’m basically using Prince’s instrumental melody,” said Nicks. “What I’m singing along is very, very different from what he’s singing. I’m singing in and out of all of the holes.”

Stand back, stand back
In the middle of my room, I did not hear from you

It’s alright, it’s alright
To be standing in a line (Standing in a line)
To be standing in a line
I would cry

The song ended up as the lead single off Nicks’ second studio album The Wild Heart.

“I’ve been doing this song for years, Fleetwood Mac does it also, and I never get tired of it,” said Nicks. “‘Stand Back‘ has always been my favorite song on stage, because when it starts, it has an energy that comes from somewhere unknown… and it seems to have no time-space. I’ve never quite understood this sound, but I have never questioned it.”

For the video, Nicks opted for the second version, directed by Jeffrey Hornaday, featuring her singing in a spotlighted room. The first Brian Grant-helmed video had a more Gone with the Wind theme and was later released on the 2007 release Crystal Visions, The Very Best of Stevie Nicks.

“Stand Back” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Top Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and has been covered by Rod Stewart, Sky Ferreira, and more throughout the years. 

Do not turn away my friend
Like a willow, I can bend
No man calls my name
No man came
So, I walked on down, away from you
Maybe your attention was more than you could do
One man did not call
He asked me for my love, and that was all

As Nicks was getting ready to record the track, she shared the story of how “Little Red Corvette” inspired “Stand Back” and hummed the melody over the phone to Prince. On Feb. 8, 1983, Prince joined Nicks in the studio and played synthesizers on the track but remained uncredited on the album, though both shared publishing royalties of the track 50-50.

At first, Nicks didn’t even think Prince would take her up on her offer to come to Sunset Sound studio in Los Angeles, but he did. Upon hearing the track in the studio, Prince went over to a keyboard and began playing along to the song to Nick’s surprise. 

“That was the coolest thing we’ve ever heard,” shared Nicks. In all, Prince came, played, then disappeared like a dream.

“He gives me a little ‘I don’t really know you’ hug, and he’s gone,” said Nicks, “like a little spirit.”

Photo: Stevie Nicks / YouTube

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