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The Time-Transcending Appeal of Stevie Nicks

My superpower is being able to tell when a Fleetwood Mac song is playing even when the volume on the radio is almost all the way down. I tell people that loving Stevie Nicks is in my blood because I was named after a song that she wrote and sang. “Your outfit today is very Stevie Nicks” is my favorite type of compliment. Not only am I happy because I’m being compared to one of my favorite entertainers of all time but also because someone else under the age of 30 knows who Stevie Nicks is.

It’s not really that surprising, though. Although you won’t find a Fleetwood Mac T-shirt as often as you see shirts for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, one of my classmates almost always comments on mine when I wear it. It’s like a secret password that unlocks spirited conversation about the ‘70s and ‘80s rock icon. While other artists of her day are left to collect dust on CD shelves, Stevie Nicks and her tambourine have twirled their way into the hearts of millennials and Gen Z-ers everywhere.

It’s easy to point to Stevie’s on- and off-screen role in American Horror Story: Coven as the source of her popularity with young women. Her influence has endured since the season’s end, though. As fashion trends turn to velvet, draping sleeves and thick-heeled boots, it’s hard not to see little traces of Stevie everywhere.

One reason why young people of today continue to love Stevie Nicks so much is that she represents mystery and fantasy. In a world where everything is rapid fire or cut-and-dried, Stevie’s rough yet sweet voice singing about magic and romance is a brief trip inside a fairytale. Even her appearance is something mystical. Wrapped in black chiffon and feathers, the image of Stevie Nicks makes her the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll fairy godmother. Stevie’s distinct nature is another aspect of what makes her popular with young people.

No one is quite like Stevie. Her voice is nearly immune to parody. Hearing her sing “I’ll follow me down till the sound of my voice will haunt you” is enough of a spell to match her witchy image. Even though she definitely has influenced fashion, no one dresses quite like her. Stevie and her music remain just as different from what everyone else is doing today as when Fleetwood Mac released their self-titled album in 1975. If you walked into a costume party dressed as Stevie Nicks, there would be no mistaking who you’re trying to channel — provided the party-goers know who Stevie is.

When a Stevie Nicks song comes on, it’s like a four minute transportation to another world — one where handsome strangers are around every corner and all problems can be solved by a tambourine twirl. It’s a fantasy. A world like that didn’t even exist when her music was originally released. Now, for young adults of an era so in need of escapism, the appeal is stronger than ever.

Songs like Landslide bring raw emotion to pop music. With her string of celebrity exes who became fuel for songwriting, people sometimes draw the comparison between Taylor Swift and Stevie. In fact, Stevie’s style of writing, where each song is truly about something rather than there to take up space on the album, likely inspired pop musicians like Swift. There’s a key difference between Stevie and Taylor, though. As Taylor Swift continues to reinvent herself from country sweetheart to retro fashion queen to her newest edgy aesthetic, Stevie Nicks has always stayed the same.

Stevie Nicks never once thought to try to be like anybody else, especially not the men who shared her stage. Individualism is valued in today’s culture of constant imitation. She leaned into her witchy-ness, using it as a tool of empowerment rather than worrying about being intimidating. In this way, some people can see themselves in Stevie. Particularly for young women who are concerned about how they come off to other people, Stevie is a symbol of embracing what aspects of yourself make you feel strong and using them to your advantage.

Stevie is a paradox. She is all at once ethereal and earthly. She’s sexy in a way that’s rooted in mystery. Tell your friend’s dad you like Stevie Nicks, and watch him say, “Oh, I used to have a huge crush on her.” She is equally attainable and unattainable. Anyone can put on a Fleetwood Mac song and spin around their living room in a scarf to feel like Stevie for a moment. The love stories she sings about seem both ancient and enduring.

Stevie Nicks’ legacy is in clothing racks full of shawls, bell-sleeved dresses and oversized hats. Her legacy is in “Dreams” coming on at the grocery store as someone turns to their roommate to say, “Oh, I love this song.” Her legacy is in an Etsy shop that advertises Nicks-inspired crescent-moon necklaces. Her legacy is the karaoke choices of tipsy twenty-somethings, the reason why you linger on the ‘70s station when you’re channel-scanning and the Instagram caption on a picture taken at a record store. You can hear little traces of her in artists like Florence and The Machine and Bon Iver. If 1978 Stevie Nicks had been able to peer into her crystal ball and see the way she would continue to impact people for decades to come, she probably would’ve been delighted — or at least bewitched. The one thing I can’t say she would’ve been is surprised.

Photo courtesy of the author, Brianna Moye.

Brianna is a sophomore journalism major at the University of Florida. She loves both writing and reading, and she plans to become a librarian. When she's not in the library, Brianna can be found dancing to Fleetwood Mac, putting together a Pinterest moodboard or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find her on Instagram @brianna.moye and Twitter @brianna__moye
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