Whenever I Call You, Friend: Stevie Nicks’ Greatest Collaborations
More than thirty years into an incredible career, Stevie Nicks seems busier than ever. On April 2, there’s a documentary film on the making of her latest album, In Your Dreams. Two days later, Fleetwood Mac kick off their latest tour in Columbus, Ohio. A tour that follows-up her recent string of dates with Dave Grohl‘s Sound City Players.
The Sound City soundtrack features a Nicks/Grohl collaboration, “You Can’t Fix This,” which has added a new classic to her already incredible discography. Watching her work on the song with Grohl in the film Sound City reminded us of the fact that, while she may be referred to as a diva, she’s an incredibly empathetic and generous collaborator.
She started her career as half of the duo Buckingham/Nicks with Lindsey Buckingham; soon enough, they joined the Mac. Of course, Nicks wrote and sang several of their biggest hits, but she was always happy to support bandmates Buckingham and Christine McVie on their songs. A rare musician with hits as a solo artist, duet partner and band member, we decided to celebrate some of her best collaborations.
Lindsey Buckingham: Love him or hate him (and Stevie has probably felt both ways), there has always been something about their chemistry, starting with their 1973 album, Buckingham/Nicks. It’s been out of print for years, but easily available as a bootleg for most of that time. The album featured “Crystal,” which Fleetwood Mac later recorded on their first album with Nicks and Buckingham in the band. Outtakes from the album would see new life years later: “Candlebright” and “Sorcerer” appeared decades later on Nicks’ 2001 album Trouble In Shangri-La; that album’s “Planets Of The Universe” grew out of another outtake from that era, “No Light.”
Of course, the duo’s years in Fleetwood Mac have been well documented, but they’ve also worked outside of the context of the Mac. They recorded “Twisted,” from the soundtrack of the 1996 film of the same name, as a duo. Lindsey contributed guitar to Shangri-La‘s “I Miss You,” and “Soldier’s Angel” off In Your Dreams. Although their lives have taken different paths, it’s clear that there’s still magic when the two collaborate.
Don Henley – The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac both dominated radio and the pop charts during the ’70s, and Nicks and Henley were romantically linked at one point. That romantic tension was evident on “Leather And Lace,” their duet from Nicks’ solo debut, 1981’s Bella Donna. Their rapport lasted through the years; in 2005, they co-headlined a tour, joining each other for several songs during each set.
Kenny Loggins – Nicks began to show her clout on the charts outside of Fleetwood Mac on a duet with former Loggins & Messina singer Kenny Loggins: “Whenever I Call You Friend” was a #5 hit in 1978, three years before Stevie’s solo debut.
Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks – Maines duetted with Stevie on “Too Far From Texas” from Trouble In Shangri-La. The Chicks covered Stevie’s “Landslide” in 2002 and Nicks joined them for a performance at VH1 Divas Las Vegas that same year.
Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics – Stewart himself is a good collaborator having worked with Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Joss Stone and, of course, Annie Lennox in the past. Stewart produced Nicks’ latest, In Your Dreams, and also directed the documentary about the making of the album.
Sheryl Crow: In 1995, Nicks recorded “Somebody Stand By Me,” a song written by Fleetwood Mac fan Sheryl Crow for the Boys On The Side soundtrack. Soon, the two began working together, recording “If You Ever Did Believe” and a new version of “Crystal,” both for the 1998 film Practical Magic. That same year, Crow honored Fleetwood Mac at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And in 2001, Crow produced some of the tracks from Trouble In Shangri-La, and also wrote “It’s Only Love” for the album. When Nicks hit the road, Crow joined for a few dates, sitting in with Stevie’s backing band. After Christine McVie left the Mac, there was even talk that Crow would be her replacement, although it never happened.
Tom Petty: You could argue that Tom Petty is Nicks’ most important collaborator. Their first song together, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was the first single from her solo debut, 1981’s Bella Donna. It hit #3 on the pop charts, still her biggest solo hit to date. Also in 1981, they duetted on “Insider” from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Hard Promises. Two live performances from that year – “Insider” and “Needles And Pins” – were later released on his Pack Up The Plantation Live! album. And in 1984, they recorded an early version of “The Apartment Song”; a Nicks-less version later made his solo debut Full Moon Fever (their duo version was released on his 1995 Playback box set). Just as important as the songs they worked together on were the ones they didn’t collaborate on. Nicks told this writer in 2001 that the song “That Made Me Stronger” was inspired by a conversation she had with Petty as she was starting to work on Trouble In Shangri-La. She asked him to help her write the album… and then he reminded her that she is a great songwriter, and shouldn’t need anyone’s help. Nicks then got to work on one of her best solo records to date.