Interesting Facts about Stevie Nicks 'Bella Donna'

Starting Friday at 3p & all weekend long (10/21-23) listen for your chance to text in and score tickets to Stevie Nicks/Pretenders on 11/20 at Wells Fargo Center. All winner also score deluxe CD copies of Stevie Nicks 'Bella Donna' & 'The Wild Heart'. Here's some interesting info on 'Bella Donna', some of it from Stevie herself.
Released in July of 1981, Bella Donna was Stevie's first solo album. It went to #1 on the charts and stayed on the charts for 3 years.  It's sold over 6 million records.


She Wasn't Joking, She Was Serious
Stevie met Tom Petty when he was recording 'Damn The Torpedoes' with co-producer Jimmy Iovine (who Stevie ended up dating).  She joked with Tom about him writing her a song for a solo album she was working on.  Petty didn't think Stevie was serious until she approached him again a year later.  Petty gave her the song 'Insider' which she ended up taping with him and then deciding that it was a better fit for The Heartbreakers than her. The song ended up on Petty's 'Hard Promises' album.

Petty and Mike Campbell recorded "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and sent that along to Stevie.  She loved it.  She recorded the song with Petty. She enjoyed working with Tom so much that she asked him to produce 'Bella Donna'. They gave it a try but they both agreed it wasn't working.  Jimmy Iovine then came into the picture and produced the record. This created an interesting dynamic because Stevie and Iovine began living together while recording 'Bella Donna'.


How The Song Got Its Name
The name of this song came from a conversation that Stevie had with Tom Petty's wife when she was recording tracks for 'Bella Donna'.  Stevie asked Tom's wife what age she was when her and Tom met.  Petty's wife replied 'at the age of seventeen'.  Because Petty's wife had a strong southern accent, Stevie misunderstood her and thought that she said 'at the edge of seventeen'.

The Dark Inspiration For The Song
This song was written about 2 deaths that effected Stevie tremendously - the death of John Lennon and the death of her uncle.

When asked about the song for her 'Live In Concert' video during the 'Bella Donna' tour she spoke about how Lennon's death influenced this song. "I was in Australia when John Lennon was shot. Everybody was devastated. I didn't know John Lennon, but I knew Jimmy Iovine, who worked with John quite a bit in the '70s, and heard all the loving stories that Jimmy told about him. When I came back to Phoenix I started to write this song."

She continued, "Right when I got to Phoenix, my uncle Bill got cancer, got very sick very fast, and died in a couple of weeks. My cousin John Nicks and I were in the room when he died. There was just John and I there. That was part of the song when I went running down the hallways looking for somebody - I thought where's my mom? Where's his wife and the rest of the family? At that point I went back to the piano and finished the song."

The White-Winged Dove
Later in the interview she also explains the line about the e 'white-winged dove', "It became a song about violent death, which was very scary to me because at that point no one in my family had died. To me, the white-winged dove was for John Lennon the dove of peace, and for my uncle it was the white-winged dove who lives in the saguaro cactus - that's how I found out about the white-winged dove, and it does make a sound like whooo, whooo, whooo. I read that somewhere in Phoenix and thought I would use that in this song. The dove became exciting and sad and tragic and incredibly dramatic. Every time I sing this song I have that ability to go back to that two-month period where it all came down. I've never changed it, and I can't imagine ending my show with any other song. It's such a strong, private moment that I share in this song."


Waylone Jennings Inspired This Tune
Nicks explains the impetus for creating this song in the liner notes of 'TimeSpace'.
"I wrote this song because Waylon Jennings called me up and asked me to write a song called 'Leather and Lace.' It was to be a duet for him and his wife (Jessi Colter)....When it was finally finished, Don and I made a very simple demo of it - he sang it with me, and it was truly wonderful. And then I found out that Waylon and Jessi were breaking up, and Waylon wanted to just sing it by himself. After all the work I had put into it......I told Waylon that only 4 people in this world could sing this song: he and his wife, or myself and Don Henley. Don and I had been going out for quite awhile, and, bless his heart, he did sing it with me, and again, as fate would have it, it became one of the most special love songs that I would ever write... and remains that, even today, after all these years. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience, as was he. Blame it on my wild heart."