Stevie Nicks is still one of rock’s biggest icons

Stevie Nicks
(Logan Riely / Seattle Times)

40 years after Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Stevie Nicks is still one of rock’s biggest icons

The iconic 1977 Fleetwood Mac album Rumours turned 40 last week. This album has meant a whole lot to me over the course of my life, and this anniversary has forced me to reflect on that more than ever.

As a female writing about music, I have a special appreciation for women in music, and Stevie Nicks is one of the best the world has seen. As she approaches 70, she remains one of the most incredible women in rock, releasing album 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault, in 2013. She is currently touring and recently added 20 tour dates for 2017, kicking off on Feb. 23, in Reno, Nevada, and wrapping up on April 6 in Uniondale, New York.

In the music industry as a whole, women are typically confined to the roles of solo performers or singer-songwriters. This is what makes Fleetwood Mac stand out — it’s a mixed-gendered rock band, and by far the most successful one to ever grace the industry. Of course, there was drama that came along with it, but from that drama emerged some of the greatest music of the 70s, specifically the album Rumours.

Nicks was involved in a tumultuous relationship with her bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, and their relationship came to an end while the band remained whole. Instead of conforming to the heartbroken damsel in distress stereotype that people may have expected, Nicks continued working with Buckingham and the rest of the band, and went on to write the song “Dreams,” which is the only Fleetwood Mac single to reach number one on the United States charts. The drama and heartbreak being felt by almost every member of the band produced their most successful era because of the fact both the male and female perspectives were on display. There is dialogue within and between the tracks of the album, and this is what makes it stand out among most albums in rock history.

Nicks is also notable in the sense that she chose her career over settling down and starting a family. Women are often expected to be tame and take their so-called “biological duty” more seriously than their career or passions. Nicks never conformed to that. From the age of 16, she has been a songwriter and musician, and has let nothing get in the way — whether it was her affairs and relationships, or the societal pressure of settling down to have a family. Nothing could stop her passion for her craft, and as a result she has led an incredibly successful career both with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist.

At the age of 68, it is expected that her career as a rock star may be approaching its end, but that doesn’t signal the end of her relevance. She is more than just a rock star — she is an incredibly wise and knowledgeable woman who uses her art to convey her experiences to the world and offer solace to those that have had similar experiences. All the while, she has paved the way for women in rock, and has simultaneously been exemplary to women in general, with her good-naturedness and her ability to overcome all sorts of obstacles — while still finding incredible success. She uses this success as a platform to share what she has learned as a woman in the rock genre, and simply as a student of the universe.

In a 2015 issue of Mojo magazine, Nicks said, “I think every band should have a girl in it, because it’s always going to make for cooler stuff going on than if it’s just a bunch of guys.” The world, and music in general, can learn a lot from the success of Fleetwood Mac, and of Stevie Nicks in particular.

Jenny Bourque is a freshman English and textual studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at jabourqu@syr.edu.

Jenny Bourque / Syracuse University Daily Orange / February 7, 2017

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