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Stevie Nicks knows a thing or two about writing hit songs. She’s done it for the past 60 years. So, she has a couple of guidelines in mind whenever she pens her next No. 1 song. One of the most important things she always remembers is that it’s never good to be “blissfully happy” while trying to write a good tune. There has to be a certain amount of turmoil.

Stevie Nicks performing in pink, 1990.
Stevie Nicks | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stevie Nicks said people who are ‘blissfully happy’ can’t write good songs

During a 1981 interview with BAM magazine, Nicks revealed what it takes to create a hit song. She had some hefty rules. The publication asked the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman, “Some people believe that writers–artists in general–work best when they have inner turmoil: that happiness isn’t inspiring, but pain is. Do you agree with that?”

Nicks replied that she did. “I think a little turmoil probably helps. I don’t go looking for it so I can write [laughs], but then I never sit down and write a happy song,” Nicks explained. “I think there is something to that theory, because the person who is searching and never quite finding what he wants, who is constantly challenged, is going to write better songs than somebody who is blissfully happy.

“If you’re blissfully happy, what else is there to say? And how many people are blissfully happy enough that they can relate to what you’re writing? As close as I get to writing happy songs are ones that aren’t un-happy. I’ve written my share of miserable songs, but I haven’t recorded many of them.”

Nicks said people don’t mind ‘a little misery, but they also like happy endings’

Nicks continued to explain that people “don’t mind a little misery, but they also like happy endings. It’s nice to leave some hope at the end that things will work out.” However, she said her once-Fleetwood Mac bandmate and ex-boyfriend, Lindsay Buckingham, doesn’t do that.

“See, Lindsey won’t do that,” Nicks said. “He’ll say, ‘Go your own way,’ I wouldn’t, most likely.”

“Lindsey hates to write lyrics, though,” she continued. “Maybe that’s why some of his songs are so negative. [Laughs] He’ll have all these beautiful songs that are instrumentals for months. They have gorgeous melodies, layer upon layer of guitars. I exercise to his tapes, practice ballet to them. Then he’ll write lyrics for this beautiful song and it’ll have a different feeling than the music.”

Nicks and Buckingham never agreed on songs, though.


Stevie Nicks Said She ‘Studied’ How Her Idols ‘Phrased’ Their Lyrics

Nicks said she doesn’t think Buckingham ever liked her lyrics so they never wrote songs together

BAM magazine pointed out that Nicks and Buckingham “haven’t collaborated on songs since they’ve been in Fleetwood Mac. You love to write words and he’s a nut for melodies.”

“I’m surprised, too,” Nicks replied. “I always wanted to. It’s strange. You would think he would ask me, but I think he really doesn’t like my lyrics very much. They’re too spacey for him. We think differently, I guess.”

There’s another reason why Nicks and Buckingham never wrote songs together. Generally speaking, Nicks is superstitious about changing her lyrics. So, she could never write songs with Buckingham because he always suggested changes.

“I’m very superstitious,” Nicks said during a 2011 interview. “Once I’ve written a line-it’s like every once in a while, Lindsey will say, ‘You know, well you’re writing in the third person, and then all of a sudden you flip back into first person. You can’t really do that.’ And I’m like, ‘So would you say that to Bob Dylan?’ I snap back at him, you know?

“And that’s why Lindsey and I don’t write songs together. He’ll say, ‘Well-No, I guess…’ So, that ends that conversation right there.”

To be fair, though, Nicks never wanted to write songs with anyone else. She said she was self that way. Whatever Nicks does, she manages to write some of the best songs.