Looking back, it seemed preordained. Stevie Nicks met Dave Stewart years ago, and had a good feeling about him. “Maybe,” Stevie Nicks says toward the end of the film In Your Dreams, “this played out for a reason.”
That, of course, hadn’t always been so clear.
The rock-umentary (arriving exclusively today on iTunes) begins, as these often things do, with a quick-cut series of gushing fans — but even here, there is something more complex happening. As each, one after another, professes their undying fealty to Nicks and every witchy-woman scarf she ever twirled, there is this sense of disconnect — like something of great portent is just around the bend.
Perhaps that’s because it has always been thus. Nicks’ career path has been marked by precipitous highs and just as dizzying lows, and that very history is probably to blame for the weird dissonance that greets this pre-show bliss. You keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Instead, what happens as In Your Dreams unfolds is maybe the most surprising, most light-filled, most anthematically inspirational thing of all: Stevie Nicks, right before your eyes, becomes Stevie Nicks again.
Directed with Nicks by Dave Stewart, who also co-produced her 2011 album In Your Dreams, the film of the same name blends home movies, personal memories, old black-and-white photographs, backstage thoughts, snippets of the things she’s dubbed her “heart songs,” memories of heartbreak, and of fitful passion, joking around, shedding tears — all in service not just of documenting the construction of this studio project but of their budding friendship and how, together, they helped reset Nicks’ career.
Nicks’ goal for the record, as stated at the top of the film, was not just to rekindle the feeling of her best days, but to bring that feeling — that sound — into a new space, for a new generation. They wrote, with ink on a page, and they recorded in her house, in the manner of her best moments with Fleetwood Mac.
And, along the way, she fell in love all over again with music: “I don’t believe it can ever not happen to you, because you’re too old,” Nicks says at one point, talking about how love transcends age — but also, it seems, about her rekindled craft.
The movie or, at the very least, the album project, turns on moments like the rediscovery of a demo of a 1980-era song called “Secret Love” that appeared on the internet before it ever got properly recorded. In the way of everything else here, it’s considered a moment of providence, and the song eventually becomes a signature element of In Your Dreams.
“Every time I would say to everybody ‘I think I’m going to take some piano lessons,’” Nicks remembers, “they would say ‘don’t do it,’ because once you have rules, then you’ll, like, have rules.”
In a very similar fashion, she happily wanders toward salvation. You sense — you completely feel — Nicks’ muse reawakening. When she sings “the ghosts are gone,” it’s utterly cathartic, very real. Eventually, Nicks even gets to a point where she can record something new again with Lindsey Buckingham, her life-long musical companion and fiercest competitor and most devastating heartbreak.
Nicks arrives, finally, at the thought that she probably should have put all of these things together earlier, should have tried harder to push through — that she should have just made a record, for herself, whatever the reaction. Every step of Nicks’ journey, however, seems needed. No experience, no matter how difficult, was wasted.
Without everything that came before, it’s clear that she wouldn’t have been able to say what she is saying now, to return with such a presence, to still sound so very much like herself. After all of these years, it’s only right that Stevie Nicks should play it the way she feels it.
And she is, finally, again.