Happy Birthday, Stevie Nicks: Our Rock & Roll Fairy Godmother
I have come to make you better. I have come to take you away.
Stevie Nicks is one of the easiest and yet most difficult subjects for me to write about. How do I profess my admiration without gushing; how do I praise her talents without becoming fulsome? How do I organize and articulate my racing thoughts? How do I express feelings that maybe cannot be expressed with words?
Lately, I can’t get those two lines out of my head. They repeat themselves in my consciousness over and over.
I have come to make you better. I have come to take you away.
To many people, they are unknown lines from a little heard song on the little heard soundtrack of a little seen movie. They are supposed to be about, among other things, a guardian angel – not Stevie herself.
In the years that filled the gap between when those lines were written in the late ‘90s and now, Stevie Nicks, long ago crowned the Queen of Rock and Roll, has been decorated with other laurels: Rock Goddess, Fairy Godmother of Rock, Rock Matriarch… the list goes on. These titles are not for nothing. They are not honors for the sake of honoring. They speak to her character, the impact she has made on music and pop culture, and the influence she continues to have, particularly as the titles grow more maternal, on young women.
Listening to “Touched by an Angel” now, with this added perspective of time, I feel like the lines have taken on new meaning. Albeit unintentional, by now, they are more reflective of herself, not someone else.
Stevie Nicks is your imagined fairy godmother who lives in a world far more magical than you will ever know, though she welcomes you into it with open arms. Music is often a form of escapism, but Stevie Nicks’s music particularly so. Her songs transport you to romantic, mystical places. Her words offer their guidance. They hold your hand when you need it, give you a gentle push in the right direction. They encourage you to take risks, instill fortitude and confidence when you feel like you are failing. She carefully and skillfully strikes the jugular of your emotions; she can make your heart hurt and swell with joy at the same time. Most importantly, when you lie in bed and listen to her signature vibrato, the way her voice shifts from unintelligible, impassioned screams to raspy whispers, she makes you feel less alone. You feel like someone gets you. You feel like someone is on your side.
We listen to “Wild Heart” and feel a surge of energy, fearlessness, and independence in our bloodstreams. We cry to “Landslide” when we thought we had no tears left, then regain our strength in “Silver Springs.” We drift off to “Beautiful Child” and “Goodbye Baby,” let them sooth us like gentle back rubs on anxious, fitful nights when we were sure sleep would never come. “Lady” reminds us on our lowest days that we are not the first to struggle with doubt or question our future, while “Gypsy” reminds us to continue to dream, and, on our highest days, to never lose our humility or innocence.
She makes us better. She takes us away.
Her influence is everywhere in my life. I see it in my writing. From the time I was about five years old, I have been a writer. I knew that writing was what I wanted – what I was meant – to do. I spent four years of my life learning to be one for real. But I’d like to think that much of my best work, the things I am proudest of and worked hardest on, happened not in a classroom, but in the “after Stevie” era of my life. She pushed me to write – to be honest, truthful, and raw – every day, and many of the pieces I publish come from that diligence. She taught me to think about the way sentences can have layers of meaning, how to inflect emotion between the lines, how to self-reference and carry themes across multiple pieces. She taught me to phrase things in a way that makes people think, which I hope I have done, and to look at the world in a more romantic and poetic way. She made me a better writer.
I see her influence on how I live my life, on the person I try to be day in and day out. She has taught me so much through example, through her work, her words, and the way she leads her life. She taught me about passion and ambition, about kindness and gratitude, about courage and resilience.
She taught me, maybe most importantly, confidence. How to own my life, how to never be embarrassed about or sorry for who I am and what I want. She is unapologetic and candid about who she is and who she was. I admire her not in spite of her flaws, but because of them. Because she has taught me that having flaws and making mistakes does not make you a bad person. It makes you human. You learn from them, you grow and move on, and you use that knowledge to help others. I am stronger, smarter, and more compassionate because of her. She made me a better young woman.
I don’t think she knows this influence she has on people, on so many other young women like myself. Maybe she does, but maybe she doesn’t know to what extent.
“Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you go, ‘Does anybody get it? If I died tomorrow, what would go on? Did I actually touch people? Did I make a wave here?’” she asked last year.
You did. You do. Every day. You are important, and you are necessary, and I am not alone in saying this. You make us better. You take us away. You’ve said before that this was your mission, what you feel you were meant to accomplish with your life. You have succeeded – so much more than you may ever know.
I don’t call many people my heroes. It’s not a title that I give out frequently or take lightly. But you have been such a significant, influential figure in my life and have helped shape the woman I am today, the woman I hope to become. I simply can’t think of any better term. All I can say is that, years from now, when I am all grown up, I hope that I am even half the woman you are.
Happy birthday to my lady hero in every sense of the title. Thank you for everything. Here’s to another year of continued amazement and inspiration.
“It’s hard to be high profile and young. I wasn’t very confident; I was cripplingly shy. And at the age of 19, you are all too aware of how people are perceiving you. I remember reading the first profile of me that was printed in a magazine and thinking, ‘Oh, good, now I’m going to find out what I’m really like.’ But no. That’s not the best way of judging yourself.”
Helena Bonham Carter (May 26th, 1966) through the decades.
Very early on you figure out that you put your self-esteem in the hands of strangers. There’s a different commodity. There’s the Helena Bonham Carter that everyone thinks they know, who really has nothing to do with me. But you just have to let that go.
Hellooo there poopie pies! I need your help to get selected at Ooh Deer’s postcard contest. If you like my work (oh, and even if you don’t, but then what are you doing here??) you can vote for my submissions by liking them right here:
“If you believe in destiny and I do, it seems like my life was pretty mapped out. It seems like there was somebody up there moving the chess players and I was the White Queen and I just went where I was moved.”
day three hundred & twenty two. “Music is the stuff of angels and aliens. What I’m trying to say is that when Stevie sings, it is from another place. Like received wisdom. A reminder that physics is an insufficient explanation for our universe. Here in this universe there are them that are suckers for Stevie Nicks and them that ain’t. Pity the latter.” David Ramsey, Arkansas Times, 2014.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEVIE! Thank you for doing what you do. x