Happy Birthday, Stevie Nicks: The Hero, the Friend, the Woman
There is a special reason why four different young women can all form a friendship and partnership based on the influence of a shared hero. We are just four of many other countless young women who admire Stevie Nicks, who don’t take the use of the word hero lightly when describing her.
There is a special reason why we care so deeply about certain artists, why we choose to celebrate their birthdays and grieve their deaths, why we cheer for their triumphs and support them from afar during their trials. There is a reason why we feel so close to someone we may have never even met.
Stevie Nicks has that effect on the four of us. Yes, we love and admire her because she is talented and intelligent and kind and captivating. But, we also love her because she’s helped us love ourselves. We love her because we all recognize a part of ourselves in her and a part of her in ourselves. It’s a connection that’s rare and just happens. It’s helped us figure out our own identities, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do.
Because we wouldn’t be the same without her influence, the four of us each unpacked our many thoughts into a roundtable discussion. There are many more words to be said, but today, we want to wish Stevie Nicks — our hero and friend — a happy birthday and say thank you in the best way we know how, through the words she’s given us strength to write.
For me, Stevie is more than that cool lady that saved Misty Day from going crazy in the swamp on “American Horror Story.” Although, they did get Misty’s character spot on. She’s more than a fashion trend. She has been a constant in my life that I’ve always been able to turn to, not unlike most fans. Her music has a way of being its own influencing force. It brings people together from all walks of life.
The one thing I’ve always taken to heart is never give up on yourself or your dream. Be yourself, unapologetically, always — all ways.
I was riddled with the usual teenage angst and it was the time my depression and anxiety would rear its ugly, familiar head. However, no one knew. I wore the mask of a happy, goal driven, and, my least favorite, “inspirational” girl. I didn’t believe any of it, never got help for it. I found comfort in the music and words, in the darkness that Stevie paints. The songs tell stories of dark times, wrapped in a silver lining. No matter how bad things are, it will get better. And when Stevie herself magically walked into my life, things were never the same. It has brought people into my life that I will cherish for a lifetime and given me experiences just as special. In my heart, there are two Stevies. Stevie Nicks, “the queen of rock and roll,” beating tambourines and enchanting audiences. That’s the Stevie I’m a fan of. Then there is the Stevie not many people get to see, just Stevie. The friend.
I’ve been at my lowest moments when not only the music, but Stevie herself has been there. People have come and gone, friends have been made, love has been lost and found so beautifully again. We’ve cried over and talked out my short stint with a prescription drug problem. She could see it in my eyes. She had seen those eyes before. I was so ashamed to tell anyone about it, let alone Stevie. Why? I have no idea. Of anyone that could relate it was her. But the one thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay to feel and it’s okay struggle. She’s given me advice on how to deal with a broken heart — “If you hold on, it only hurts you.” We’ve laughed about seeing me grow up and have cried for the people who can’t be with us anymore. I’ve even been lectured more times than I can remember for having so many tattoos and told to promise no more. She is more than just some rock star, she is my friend.
Not mentioning my grandma wouldn’t feel right. Through the years, Stevie got to know and love my grandma. Even now, she will talk about seeing my grandma standing in the middle of all the fans — moments I hold dear in my heart. My grandma would drive across two states just so I could go to a show. She became a part of the group; everyone knew her. My grandma became everyone’s grandma. To have the two women I looked up to the most be part of each others lives is something I’ll always love most.
We all have those songs that were the reason for the tears on our pillows and the smiles on our faces. They remind us of driving with the windows down or that concert when you first stood at the stage. Stevie means so much to so many people and will continue to for a lifetime.
To write down everything that Stevie has done for me, there would be no end. Even with all this, it doesn’t do justice the admiration and love I have. Happy Birthday, my friend.
When you are young you’re told that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. As you mature, you start to doubt yourself. You begin to question your abilities and mistrust your inner voice. It takes an extraordinary person to become a beacon of hope, to be the backbone of your strength when you feel uncertain.
Some mentors don’t just teach you things, they have the power to change who you are or meant to be. Growing up in a non-traditional family, I spent my childhood with my grandparents. I constantly found myself searching for strong women to look to for guidance and reassurance. Through her music, honest storytelling, and heartfelt wisdom – Stevie became a huge influential guide through the formative years of my life. She is and will always be an integral part of my strength and support system.
Her music was with me as I came to terms with my less than ideal upbringing, her lyrics helped me “come out of the darkness” and realize I wasn’t less than my peers because I lacked the same family make up as they had. Her poetry assisted me through a health scare as a 17 year old, wondering if the future was even a possibility. Her wisdom ran through my mind like a neverending carousel when I decided to pursue a male dominated field, software engineering, as a young teen. Even it meant fighting for respect and going the extra mile to prove my worth against my counterparts. Her melodies filled the room when I spent sleepless nights, some of them in tears, doubting my work and wondering if all the pain and heartbreak was worth the journey.
She’s personally enhanced my life in many ways. She brought my best friend and partner-in-crime into my life, Ashley. Without Stevie, we wouldn’t have spent the last year and a half traveling the world, creating memories to last a lifetime.
Stevie has taught me that it’s okay to love and put your career first. It’s okay to follow your dreams no matter how farfetched they may seem. It’s okay to be different, as long as you believe in yourself. She helped me find my voice, something I hope to never lose.
Stevie is the definition of a trailblazer – a strong woman who broke through barriers with hard work, determination, and passion.
“If you have a dream, and you believe in it, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t have that dream.”
Not everyone will admit it, but being in your 20s is mildly terrifying. You’re on your own. There’s no one telling you “This is who you are supposed to be, and this is what you should do to get there, and here is everything you need to know about life.” These are the days when quarter-life crises seem to happen on a routine basis, and it’s difficult to deal with them sometimes, especially if you’re someone like me: an overachieving, ambitious, slightly anxious perfectionist.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t have that dream.”
That’s what I have to tell myself when I’m in these situations, on the days I’m panicking that I’m behind all my peers who are writing big, great things, the days when I feel like I’m doing so much, but getting nowhere. I can’t count the number of times I’ve cried frustrated tears out of fear that I won’t become the woman I aspire to be.
In those moments, I turn to Stevie. It’s greater than just music, though her songs give me strength and courage and a sort of kindred spirit feeling that someone else knows exactly how I feel. It’s those times that I remember how the advice she has doled out, whether intentionally or in passing, has etched a permanent place in my mind and my heart. It’s those times I have to remember: don’t let anybody stop me from following my dreams — especially myself.
Stevie has taught me so much, through her work and her words and the way she leads her life. Distilling her influence down to just one thing is nearly impossible, because she touches so many corners of my life. Mostly, though, she is helping me figure out the writer and person I want to be — because one identity is so wrapped up in the other — both in the short term and in the long run. Among many things, she’s taught me confidence and perseverance. That helps on those rare days when I feel like I’m not good enough and just want to give up, throw away all I’ve worked for and achieved already, and go home.
A solid way to make me cry almost anytime, but particularly in those situations, is to play “Gypsy.” To drive the point home a little more, play a recording of one of her in-concert introductions, too.
I cry because I am instantly reminded of the fact that Stevie was once someone like me — young and passionate, so sure of where she wanted to be, but still figuring out how to get there. I cry because hearing those words about working hard and following your biggest dreams from someone who did just that is a reassurance that everything is going to be okay, that anything is possible.
Her influence gives me the strength to continue to relentlessly pursue my dreams. She gives me the confidence to ask, “Why not me?” Because Stevie did it. So can I. I just have to believe in myself. Great things have happened so far; if I keep that Stevie mindset, more will follow.
There’s a video of Stevie backstage on the Rumours tour putting on her makeup. It’s not particularly glamorous. She looks exhausted; there’s no chiffon, no twirling. She’s just talking. She’s doing her makeup and talking about Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. I found that video at a time when I was mad at the world for reasons that were beyond my control. I watched Stevie like a curious little girl watches her mother, as she stood in front of the mirror doing her eye makeup in that signature heavy-lidded way. I think the part of me that spends so much time lost in daydreams recognized that part of Stevie — the young girl who walked around with her Goya guitar thrown over her shoulder thinking, “Do you know who I am? I’m a rock star.” I just know that it was then that I realized it was more than Stevie’s music. There was something inexplicable that I saw in that moment that I took to heart; I took the feeling of it and tucked it in my pocket like a little worry stone. She became the lady hero I didn’t know I needed.
I wear Stevie’s influence in so many ways. It’s in the way that I try to take in the small things. It’s in the way I believe wholeheartedly in my dreams. It’s in the childlike way I stand and stare in wonder at full moons. It’s in all the times I catch myself singing “Gold and Braid” when I’m nervous. It’s in the overwhelming desire I have to be there for people, to be the person I needed, and it’s laced between the lines of every single song I write. She taught me that there’s strength in vulnerability. She taught me that I can be honest while maintaining a certain amount of ambiguity. She made me better in so many ways.
When I was growing up in a tiny caution light town, I learned early that conformity was the path to acceptance, but it wasn’t the road to happiness. I embraced what it was that made me different, although it took time. I walked around in bell-bottoms and vintage t-shirts and started teaching myself to play guitar. It was my way of rebelling against my environment, but it was also the first time I felt like I was my authentic self. Stevie was and is my reminder that, yes, people are going to look. They’re always going to talk. Let them. They should notice you. You are not one of the crowd; you are special. Dream on, silly dreamer.
I often wonder if she’s aware of how often she’s acted as this universal mother to so many of us — how many times she’s dried tears, calmed fears, and helped extinguish self-doubt. She’s the one we turn to with our burning life questions. We let her take us under her wing and give us advice. We all stumble, we all get lost, we all need someone. Stevie makes us better. She tells us to go after our best life. Maybe it’s strange to some, but Stevie has a place in my heart that is all hers. She’s that important. She’s that responsible for the person I’ve become — the woman, the feminist, the artist. She unknowingly had a hand in raising me, and I’m damn proud of that.
Many of us share the common bond of turning to Stevie in some way to get through the ups and downs in our lives. Every fan has a special connection to Stevie. No reason is too big or too small, nor does it matter whether you’ve been a fan for 40 years or 40 seconds – every story means something. We hope by sharing ours, it encourages you to share yours.