Beatricia: Watching Kelly Fremon Craig’s “The Edge of Seventeen” made me aware that it has been a span of many cold months since I last listened to Stevie Nicks’ solo (but duet-friendly) masterpiece, the mordantly-titled “Bella Donna.” Stevie Nicks can imply so much so simply. Because of course there is the Italianate beauty implicit in the term, and there is also the reference to the plant, the deadly nightshade, source of pupil-dilating hallucinations– when it is not the source of outright murder. The four wonderful hit singles may have made the album inescapable in the early 80s, but with one exception, (“Edge of Seventeen”) they’re dilutions of Stevie’s heightened visions. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” is a borrowed Tom Petty tune, and our song bird is simply flaking her gold dust over the Heartbreakers’ earthier matter.
The Don Henley duet “Leather and Lace” plays with the Ying-and-Yang of it all, but again, Henley’s leather is much more common and coarser than Nicks’ delicate lace. She’s dragged down by him. “After the Glitter Fades” name-drops Hollywood but sound-checks Nashville. It’s the deeper tracks that cut deepest: the title track, “Kind of Woman,” “Think About It,” “How Still My Love,” “Outside the Rain,” “Highwayman”… There just isn’t a song that doesn’t resonate.
Tracey: I really, really want to like this stuff, Mom! But it seems that Stevie Nicks is fake-woke, if she’s not downright sleep-walking! Once you’ve waded into the actual chilling lyrics, “The Edge of Seventeen” is a rape song about a woman in her thirties who is trying to have sex with a sixteen year old boy, and she rationalizes her predatory behavior, because, “Hey, he’s on the edge of seventeen! Almost there! Eighteen is just around the corner too! The boy might as well be nineteen or twenty or forty-one, when one thinks about it!” NOPE. That’s called statutory rape whether it’s done by men or women, and there shouldn’t be a double standard. Also, I feel like Stevie Nicks culturally appropriated Wicca as though it were a fashion accessory without ever understanding or acknowledging the unjust religious discrimination faced by all Neo-Pagan movements. Furthermore, she never seems to be too far away from a leading man, always clinging to their masculinity like a distressed wilting vine. No cherry.
Hank: Oh boy.
Beatricia: Tracey. Darling. You do not know the first thing about existence on this Planet Earth. You are a petulant, self-righteous brat who doesn’t understand the endlessly subtle nuances of love, or the waves of lust and desire and passion and seduction and submission. You know nothing of the windmills of destiny. I hear what you say, and I am trying to sympathize with your idiotic concerns. But the next time you feel like saying something less than complimentary about Stevie Nicks, or Lindsey Buckingham, or Christine McVie, or John McVie, or Mick Fleetwood, I want you to reflect that it took me nine months to bring you into this world, but it will only take me nine seconds of neck-breaking to take you out of it. Anybody else have any misguided opinions about “Bella Donna” they feel the need to unleash upon us?
Hank: Of course not, babe! Great album from beginning to end. Cherry!
Grandpa Felicius: Don’t anyone look at me. Stephen Nichols is just hunky-dory in my book. Cherry!
Trent: Hot chick, decent music. Cherry!
Cousin Franz: Stephanie Lynn Nicks is one of those icons who seem to exist in two planes. There’s the prosaic carnal form (the Nicks who buys toilet paper – or at least the Nicks who orders her personal shoppers to go on toilet-paper-buying trips). Then there’s the mystical, communal dream of Stevie Nicks: she’s an exquisite witchy woman, veiled in passion and regret, checking up on her crystal ball and sending forth her white winged dove for news from some far astral plane. There’s a tormented ghost wind making love to her body every night. Cherry!
Beatricia: Good then!
Hank: I really love her raspy voice. As someone famously said: “I wouldn’t mind being dragged down THAT gravel road.”
Beatricia: What idiot said that? Don’t even tell me, obviously it was Tom Petty.
Hank: No. It was me… The idiot… Sorry, babe.
Beatricia: You SHOULD be sorry. I don’t think this household is showing Fleetwood Mac the worshipful admiration they earned through 50 years of musical excellence. I’m gonna have to fix that. Blurbarella, PLAY.
Blurbarella: “Just like– The white winged dove– Sings. A song. Sounds like she’s singing: oooh baby oooh I said oooh.”
5 out of 6 Cherries