The 10 best Stevie Nicks solo songs

Stevie Nicks
(Image credit: Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images))

A sizeable percentage of Stevie Nicks' best songs may have been released under the banner of Fleetwood Mac - the band that undoubtedly put her on the international map - but while enjoying the trappings of success as one fifth of the soft rock superstar act, the Phoenix, Arizona-born vocalist also established herself as a prolific and ground-breaking solo artist, proving that she could not only stand on her own two feet, but fly high without the help of her bandmates.

Having cemented herself as an unmistakable icon - being the only woman to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice - Nicks' work is celebrated for its complex and often beautiful untanglings of love and emotion, and of course, its otherworldly and enchanting mystique, straight from her own witchy and wild heart.

From cocaine-addled '80s dance floor-fillers to bluesy ballads, these are the ten best songs of Stevie Nicks' solo career:

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1. Rooms On Fire - The Other Side Of The Mirror (1989)

A bewitching track conceived from the fittingly ethereal surroundings of a mountain-top Dutch castle located in Beverly Hills, with Nicks turning to its 16th-century architecture, whimsy lavishness and antique artworks for inspiration. At the centre of it all however, was her intense new infatuation with producer Rupert Hine, who was part of her "spiritual agreement" to create a "magic album". Swathed in heady, rich romance, Rooms On Fire burns with an obsessive fervour about a fairytale meeting; the mysterious sixth sense that engulfs the room in metaphorical flames whenever that special someone walks nearby. Its music video was also filmed within the castle's walls, and is a gorgeously gothic fever dream.

2.  Think About It - Bella Donna (1981)

Originally written for the Rumours album, Think About It was born from the most explosive period of Fleetwood Mac’s history. At the time, keyboardist/songwriter Christine McVie was in the midst of a divorce with bassist John, and Nicks’ relationship with then-boyfriend Buckingham was on its final legs; neither woman wanted to be in the band with their ex-partners. The track was the co-frontwoman’s ode of encouragement to them both, to keep going and focus on their love of creating music, rather than the relationships they were leaving behind; they could, and would, stay with Fleetwood Mac. A song of succour for times of hardship, with bittersweet lyrics and an uplifting melody that's as comforting as a blanket around the shoulders, and a heartfelt conversation shared with an old friend. 

3.  Stop Draggin' My Heart Around - Bella Donna (1981)

Nicks' debut Bella Donna may have reached the top of the charts, but before its release, producer Jimmy Iovine was concerned that the record didn't contain a hit single, and suggested that Nicks link up with Tom Petty to work on Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, a track originally reserved for the band's 1981 album Hard Promises, as the introduction to her album.

Regardless of the writing credit, Nicks owns the song, her throaty purr blending seamlessly with Petty's smoother higher-pitched croon, as bluesy organs vamp around them, swapping stinging lines in a sassy faux lover's tryst. This tender, angst-soaked blues rock number, initially crafted to give Nicks a fighting chance of getting her feet out the door as a gratified solo artist, would go on to be one of her biggest ever hits. It would also lay the foundations of her lifelong friendship with Petty, a bond which would see her later dubbed as the honorary fifth member of The Heartbreakers, simultaneously granting Nicks' former wish of joining the band and breaking their old rule of there being "no girls allowed". 

4.  Leather And Lace - Bella Donna (1981)

This folksy lullaby-like ballad is considered by Nicks to be “one of the most special love songs” she’s ever written. A vulnerable reflection on her previous relationships with bandmate Lindsey Buckingham and the Eagles’ Don Henley (who actually duets with her on the track), the song marries dainty, twinkling keys and gentle acoustic guitar strums with honey-sweet lyrics about two personalities coming together to balance out each other’s differences; night and light, the city and mountains, leather and lace. Initially intended to be sung by Waylon Jennings and his then-wife Jessi Colter, Nicks took back the track after finding out the pair were planning on breaking up. A smart move.

5.  Sorcerer - Trouble In Shangri-La (2001)

While the official (and greatest) take of this track was created in 2001 with Sheryl Crow for Nicks’ Trouble In Shangri-La album, another version of Sorcerer was recorded during the Wild Heart sessions in 1983, following its even earlier origins in 1972, when it was written during her tenure as part of folk duo Buckingham Nicks with then-boyfriend and future Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham. The noughties' release leans into the original; stripped-back, raw guitar plucks like the sound of autumnal crunching leaves, earthy and cosy, the feeling of being back in home territory. During the track’s creation, Nicks was grappling with her new life in Hollywood, surrounded by “black ink darkness” and the garish glamour of the area; a place worlds away from her life as a “lady from the mountains”. Bluesy and western-tinged, Sorcerer remains one of Nicks’ most soulfully unpolished releases to date, reflective of a calmer epoch of her career. 

6. Wild Heart - The Wild Heart (1983)

If you thought Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights was the only famous pop rock song to be inspired by the 1847 Emily Brontë novel of the same name, you may be surprised to know that Nick’s Wild Heart, the title-track of her 1983 album, was also derived from the doomed romance of the story’s characters Heathcliff and Cathy. Written as a way of supporting listeners through their own moments of heartbreak, the seven minute-long track is driven by a marching, resolute rhythm and defiant vocals about having an emotionally intense heart. As Nicks once noted: "it takes you through your nervous breakdown and through your recovery, and it takes you through your survival." It was first unveiled during a Rolling Stone cover photoshoot.

7. Talk To Me - Rock A Little (1985)

This fist-clenching power ballad may not have been written by Nicks - it was actually helmed by Chas Sandford, who co-wrote John Waite's 1984 hit Missing You, which does sound somewhat similar - but we can't imagine it climbing the charts as well as it did (peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top spot on Billboard Top Mainstream Rock Songs) without the husky rasp of her vocal behind it to level out the saccharine pop-heavy schmaltz. With direct lyrics about encouraging a lover to unveil their hidden emotions, Talk To Me is definitely one of Nicks' most romantically upfront tracks; a glittering sappy love letter, whimsical and warm.

8. I Can't Wait - Rock A Little (1985)

If there ever was a song that perfectly encapsulated the 80s era, it would be Stevie Nicks’ I Can’t Wait; a cocaine-fuelled, heat-in-the-moment rush through the dizzying heights of love and rockstar excess, a song that is even apparently required for the listener to let themselves go “a little crazy” to properly understand it. Bursting with hyperactivity, as recorded in Zoë Howe’s book Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours, following its one-and-done recording session - where Nicks sang the vocal part in a single take to capture the track’s spontaneous magic - she danced wildly through the night with her friends, playing the song on a constant repeat. To top things off, it comes with a bonkers music video which sees Nicks and an entourage of backup dancers (including her younger brother, Chris) stomping up and down a staircase while being blasted by wind machines. 

9. Stand Back - The Wild Heart (1983)

Opening with a palpitating bass synth line that could easily shake a room if played through an adequate-enough sound system, Stand Back, as Nicks previously described herself, “starts with an energy that comes from somewhere unknown…and it seems to have no time-space”. Darkly cosmic, the song soon expands in colour, diving into a magnificently funky guitar piece from Prince, who found his way onto the track after Nicks revealed how it was derived from his own Little Red Corvette, which she first discovered via her car radio while on a drive to her honeymoon with Kim Anderson in 1983. Prince and Nicks imbued the song with their two polarising personalities to create a sparkling and shadowy pop classic, which became the lead single to her second studio album The Wild Heart. 

10. Edge Of Seventeen - Bella Donna (1981)

Edge Of Seventeen stands as the definitive track of Stevie Nicks’ solo career; a jubilant and bohemian swansong that encapsulates everything that fuels the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman’s songwriting; heartbreak, loss, magic and mystery. While it might be coloured by a celebratory feel, peaked by a dramatic chorus, the track is far less a jovial paean than it is a poignant nod to tragedy, spurred on by the “violent death” of John Lennon and Nicks’ uncle Bill, who died shortly after from cancer in 1981. The track also harks back to the wilderness of her formative years in Phoenix, and the mysterious “white-winged dove” that resides there. “To me, the white-winged dove was for John Lennon the dove of peace, and for my uncle, it was the white-winged dove who lives in the saguaro cactus…and it does make a sound like ‘whooo, whooo, whooo’” she once noted, speaking of the lyrics. 

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.