Dear Ms. Nicks,
You don’t know me, or maybe you do, at least in some sense. I know there are hundreds upon thousands of women out there like me; women who look up to you as their role model, as their friend, as their voice when they are afraid to have one.
I can’t place the first time I heard your music, it seems it has always been in my ears. My mother would play “Leather and Lace” when I was a child and we would sing it as a duet. I didn’t understand the context of the lyrics, but the simple beauty of the melody, the sweetness of the harmonies, and the fact that my mother was so in love with the song was electrifying to me. I would make my mother play your songs over and over again (“Leather and Lace”, “Rhiannon”, “Dreams”) and sing and twirl along with you, not really aware of anything I was saying. It wasn’t until years later that your words sank into my heart.
When I was a freshman in high school, a teacher and mentor gifted me her vinyl collection from her own high school years. In it was your first solo album, Bella Donna. I pulled it out and put it on my parent’s old turntable, vaguely remembering how much I loved signing your songs with my mother as a child, hoping to bring back some nostalgia of childhood.
The opening chords of the title track bumped in, a chromatic scale that resolved into strong major chords. Then, your voice sang out,
You can ride, high atop your pony, I know you won’t fall, cause the whole thing’s phony
You can fly, swinging from your trapeze, scaring all the people…but you’ll never scare me.
I was quickly lost in the poetry. Your words evoked this feeling of comfort and understanding. It made me realize there was actually a person out there who understood how I felt. A person who could put words to emotions that I didn’t know anyone else had.
High school was not an easy time for me– well let’s face it, it’s not an easy time for anyone. I spent those four years struggling with my identity, struggling with this feeling that I was vastly different than everyone else in the small, isolated, southwestern town I grew up in. I realized I was different than the girl my parents wanted me to be. I did everything I could to fit in, to establish myself in a way that seemed normal, confident, and proud. While on the inside I hated myself for who I really was: a smart, artistic, strong, and imaginative girl, who liked other girls–a reality frowned upon in a town where everyone went to church and everyone knew each other’s business.
But you made those years easier. Whenever I felt lost-I’d listen to Bella Donna and let your words become mine. The title track gave me hope. It let me know that it was ok to come in out of the darkness. It let me know that it was okay to let yourself go, to be vulnerable, and that the only person who could save your soul from your self-deprecating devices was yourself. “After the Glitter Fades” taught me that following your dreams wasn’t always going to be pretty, but it was still going to be better than never trying to achieve them. “Edge of Seventeen” gave me an outlet when I was angry; when I felt no one would want to see the parts of me I was so afraid to show; when I felt I was screaming on the inside while my voice was completely silent.
When it truly felt like no one could really hear me, you did.
I sat in my room for hours on end listening to that album as I struggled through my teenage years. Your music inspired me to let my artistic expression run free; to write my own poetry and stories; to dote on my passion for creating my own music; to seek the beauty and magic in everything. Once I allowed that part of me to escape (at least within the four walls of my bedroom) those awful high school years became a little bit easier, and before I knew it, I was leaving that small town and was off to college; a place where I felt could let myself run free.
I went to college determined to escape my bedroom. I was destined to explore my dreams, lower my inhibitions, and search around every corner for love. Your music guided me through first loves, first heartbreaks, triumphant wins, terrible losses, and wicked morning-afters. A favorite song of mine during that time was “Sara”. As I quickly fell in and out of relationships with as much passion and obsession as a puppy with too many bones, “Sara” spoke to me as a soothing, melodic reminder that love could be beautiful but complicated.
You said you’d give me light, but you never told me about the fire.
College also provided a chance to explore where I wanted to go with my future, and I quickly began projecting the perfect image of what I thought a successful college student should look like. Not only did I party hard, I worked hard. I strived for every success I could: excellent grades, a competitive internship in my field, and set myself on a path to graduate early.
Then poof! As quickly as it started, college ended, and it was time to take on adulthood. On paper, I did everything right: I graduated with a well paying job in my field waiting for me; moved to a new city; rented my first house, and quickly fell in love with the perfect girl.
While the house and the girl stuck around, the pressure I put myself under to achieve ultimate career success at the ripe age of twenty-one made everything else begin to crumble.
That right-out-of-college dream job ended up making me completely miserable. While the position looked great on paper and paid quite well, it was a boring, useless desk job. I hated going to work every day. It wasn’t challenging; it wasn’t inspiring and left me depressed. Before I knew it, I was lost again.
Luckily, you came and found me.
My new girlfriend at the time (now fiancé), is an avid lover of everything Fleetwood Mac, so when I found out you would be coming to Arizona on tour in the spring of 2013; I instantly bought tickets.
The concert was a blissful reminder of my love for your music and led me to search for more comfort in your words. I started collecting all of your Fleetwood Mac albums and solo albums; I learned your story, and I watched interviews you had done. Slowly I began to find my way back to my dreams through the story of how you found yours.
I left my desk job. I started writing every day and completed a novel. I picked up my old guitar for the first time in years. I searched for jobs that I actually wanted, not that I thought I needed. I started telling myself every day that while I was struggling now, one day I would find my own personal success, my Fleetwood Mac, and everything would be okay. Within months, it was.
However, a year passed, and I found myself back in that place of struggle.
After finding a new job, I threw myself back into a cycle of striving for and projecting perfection. As a result, I stretched myself too thin and lost my inspiration, my passion, and my happiness.
But again, you found me. Descending on this desert like winter rain, you brought comfort, you brought hope, and you reminded me to come in out of the darkness.
Now it’s two months later and I’m still finding my way, but every day your words give me reason, your melodies bring me peace, and your strength inspires me to keep going.
So I end this letter with a thank you.
Thank you for always being there when I needed you.
Thank you for hearing me.
Thank you for being my voice when mine was silent.
Thank you for giving me “Landslide” to sing when I’m scared’ “Sara” to sing when I’m in love’ “Gypsy” to sing when I miss my best friend, and “Bella Donna” to sing when I’ve lost my way.
Thank you Stevie Nicks; from not only me, but from all the women you have spoken for all of these years.
-You are the poet of my heart-
Photo Source: rollingstones.com