Revisiting Bella Donna by Stevie Nicks
Kristina Blagojev | Posted on October 16, 2019
courtesy of Stevie Nicks
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Over 38 years have passed since one of the most iconic female singers of all time, Stevie Nicks, released her debut solo album, Bella Donna. To this day, I consider it to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, albums by a female solo artist ever. Although Stevie Nicks is well known for her work in the band Fleetwood Mac, it is through her solo albums where she is able to finally shine above her bandmates and show everyone else who is boss. Channeling her rock and pop-rock roots from Fleetwood Mac, Nicks is also able to perform genres like country and folk music to deepen her influence on free-spirited, whimsical people and young women looking for a sense of freedom.
courtesy of Stevie Nicks
I did not listen to a lot of Stevie Nicks, or Fleetwood Mac for that matter, growing up. In fact, the only song I knew by Nicks was “Edge of Seventeen,” which I consider to be the gateway drug into her and her band’s music. The song is so effortlessly cool, it’s actually ridiculous. When I first read that Stevie Nicks herself was the sole writer of the song, I could not believe it. How could a tiny 5’1″ woman write a 5 and a half minute upbeat pop-rock song about how a “white-winged dove” represents her uncle passing away and the spirit leaving his body upon his death?
Although “Edge of Seventeen” is considered her most intense and popular song on the album, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the album doesn’t pack as hard of a punch. In “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” she enlists the help of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to create an undeniably beautiful duet. Despite having different pitches, when Tom Petty begins his verse, it’s hard to tell the difference between his and Nicks’ voice because their rasp and tone are so similar to each other’s. Their voices fit perfectly together to create a sort of harmony throughout the chorus that is smooth and easy on the ears.
Another collaboration on the album includes a duet with the Eagles’ Don Henley on the song, “Leather and Lace.” Despite being married for a year and then divorcing in 1977 and 1978 respectively, the two obviously ended their relationship amicably as this song, along with the album, came out in the summer of 1981. The song explains how Henley is like leather, where he is strong and tough, and Nicks is like lace, soft and delicate. They go on to tell each other to take their respective fabrics to create a more balanced life and mentality. This actually does make sense, as it isn’t the best idea to constantly be as tough as leather or as soft as lace. You should want the balance in your relationships and in life.
There will never really be another album like Bella Donna by Stevie Nicks. It is filled with raw, punchy lyrics that hit the very fiber of your being, and it is music that is real and as tender as a diary entry from your college years when you are first trying to find yourself. Stevie Nicks and Bella Donna will take in the broken and the whole. When you listen, come as you are.