(Credits: Far Out / Spotify / Geffen Records)
There is no denying that Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty are rock icons cut from the same cloth. From their flowing golden locks down to their crackling, power-pack vocals and a shared ability to craft a singalong chorus so contagious they seem like yawning’s adrenalised nemesis, the duo are indeed from the same side of town, so to speak.
This cosmic similarity wasn’t lost on the pair either. Stevie Nicks was so enamoured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers that she once asked to join the band, to which Petty famously replied: “Sorry, no girls allowed”. However, that did not stop a friendship from flourishing and an enduring mutual respect.
It might not have been a friendship entirely without its hitches, as Nicks almost ripped off ‘Runaway Trains’ after picking up a cassette from Petty’s house one night and supposedly mistook the song for her own, but for the most part, the two songsmiths shared an endearing bond and deep mutual admiration. As Nicks declared in the documentary feature, Runnin’ Down A Dream, “I almost preferred the Heartbreakers’ music to Fleetwood Mac’s music at that point.”
As for her favourite track by the band, Nicks opts for ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’. And as if to prove the deep-seated connection between her and the band, she is directly responsible for the inspiration behind it. The song was co-written with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, who was privy to a somewhat volatile incident involving the star. After an early Eurythmics concert in Los Angeles, Nicks invited Stewart back to a house party at her house, which, as of the previous night, she no longer shared with Joe Walsh of the Eagles.
When the bulk of the party descended to the bathroom to do blow for a couple of hours, a weary Stewart took himself upstairs and crashed out onto a bad. In the wee hours of the next morning, he awoke to a scene he describes as an Alice in Wonderland fever dream as Nicks was suddenly in the room, hurriedly trying on an array of Victorian clothing.
At this inopportune juncture, Walsh decided to swing by and attempt to smooth things over with the ‘Go Your Own Way’ singer. As it happens, the intoxicated, corset-clad Nicks just wound up tossing his possessions to the pavement and bellowing, in her defiant growl, “Don’t come around here no more”.
This struck a chord with Stewart, and he attempted to immortalise it in song. When he later met with the producer Jimmy Iovine, another of Nicks’ old flames, and he bemoaned that he couldn’t finish the track, Iovine suggested that he hand it over to Petty to polish up. So, Petty did the rest and figured that the song would be a good fit for Nicks but when she heard his vocal take, she thought that she could never quite eclipse it.
Thus, in fateful fashion, it stayed fittingly with the Heartbreakers and soon became Nicks’ favourite song by her favourite band. She eulogised it while picking the most beloved songs in her life on the BBC’s Tracks of My Years, and although her break-up is at the heart of it, it stands as defiant proof that hardship can be transfigured even through mere quirks of fate.