Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 28, 2013
Her name conjures imagery like no other: long, flowing blonde hair, dripping black chiffon, mystical lyrics, and witchy-woman, take-no-prisoner attitude.
After selling 150 million albums, winning multiple Grammys and being a member of one of the biggest rock bands of all time, Stevie Nicks is still a mystery.
In 2010 it had been over a decade since the world had heard any solo material from the Queen of Rock and many wondered if Nicks had called it quits on her long and wildly successful solo career. Then, rumors grew of her being holed up in her mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean with former Eurythmics front man, Dave Stewart, and, sure enough, her publicist soon revealed that the world would once again hear the whiskey, golden voice of Stevie Nicks. But, what happened next was unlike anything Nicks had ever done: she allowed cameras to film the birth of her record.
“In Your Dreams” was released in 2011 to the best reviews of Nicks’ career.
While she was receiving stellar reception to the album, she announced that a film capturing the entire process would hit theaters on April 2, 2013.
As the film opens we find ourselves poolside at Nicks’ Pacific Palisades home.
Well, I say “home,” but it’s more like a compound. She named it “Tara” since it reminded her of the famous house from “Gone with the Wind.”
We’re immediately taken to the front door and into her sweeping foyer, complete with murals, buddhas, and an amazing grand staircase.
Although she has owned the property since 2005, she actually lives in a much smaller penthouse in Santa Monica, less than a mile away.
Nicks and Stewart are then seen seated in her beautiful closet discussing their careers and the purpose of her new album, which many now consider to be the best of her career.
Next, we are thrown into her formal living room that she has transformed into a recording studio, complete with dozens of Tiffany lamps and a beautiful fireplace.
Meanwhile, it’s 90 degrees in Los Angeles and Nicks has a roaring fire and the air conditioner on full blast. But it’s all about the ambience.
While the film offers glimpses into the recording of each song from the album, I found the most tragic segment to be about a song Nicks wrote called “New Orleans.”
It was 2005 and Hurricane Katrina had devastated the Gulf, leaving hundreds of thousands without homes.
Here Nicks offers no glossy news footage. Instead, she uses the most graphic, brutal footage of Katrina, most of which was banned from American television.
There are bodies in the streets; dogs are attacking children out of the desperation of hunger; and a woman is seen clutching her dead newborn.
A tearful Nicks declares, “It was your worst nightmare.”
While she quietly donated $1 million to the relief efforts, she also wrote “New Orleans” for the victims.
Hearing the song is one thing, but seeing the film and seeing her discuss it adds an entirely new dimension into the song.
She also speaks at length about her song “Soldier’s Angel,” which was written when she began visiting Walter Reed Hospital in 2005.
“I walked in that hospital a rock star with no problems, but I walked out a soldier’s mother, a soldier’s sister, a soldier’s wife,” she says. “That song is one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my life.”
Throughout the nearly two-hour film are interjections of glossy, expensive music videos and never-before-seen footage of a young Nicks growing up in Phoenix and Chicago.
At one point in the film, Nicks can be seen on a vacation in Napili, Hawaii, where she writes the song “For What It’s Worth” in literally minutes. Proof that inspiration can strike anytime, anyplace, and at any age.
Perhaps my favorite part of the movie was the last segment, in which Nicks introduces her soaring ballad, “Italian Summer.”
I myself spent four weeks in Italy in 2005 and in the film she says something that I believe to be one of the truest statements of the film: “I’d love to live in Italy because to be there makes you want to fall in love; you don’t know how much you love Italy until you leave.”
She also shares footage of one of the most fantastical storms you’ve ever seen, which inspired the song and its epic final note.
It’s been two hours and it’s time for us to go. In closing we see Nicks and an orchestra on her patio surrounded by her rolling, lush gardens and breathtaking panoramic views of Los Angeles.
We’re back where we started: at Tara, her house by the ocean that now feels a bit like home. Nicks is clothed in a floor-length red dress and is waving us out as the camera pans to the city below.
You can’t help but think that you have just witnessed something extraordinary.
Then again, you know this is Stevie Nicks and her world just may be a little more extraordinary than our own.
“Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams” is unrated and is currently in high definition, digital-only release.
It is available on iTunes, Amazon, and inyourdreamsmovie.com. The film comes to DVD on Wedneday through Warner Bros. Records.
It was also recently announced that Nicks would make a highly-publicized appearance on the FX show, “American Horror Story: Coven,” in the coming weeks.
Jared Faw is an aspiring writer who lives in Rowan County.