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A former Fleetwood Mac producer opened up about making the Rumours album, and he revealed that Stevie Nicks became a “witch” while recording an “evil” song. Here’s which song the producer was talking about and what Nicks said about the track.
Producer Ken Caillat worked with Fleetwood Mac on the Rumours album and said he “wasn’t very excited” about the Stevie Nicks song “Gold Dust Woman.”
“It was a weird song, and truthfully, I wasn’t very excited about it. I couldn’t tell where it was going,” Caillat told MusicRadar. “It was typical Stevie – most of her songs, in their inception, are close to 10 or 12 minutes long, with endless verses and epic stories.”
He said he had to cut several verses from the song, despite Nicks’ protests. “My job became one of editing, taking all of these sections and making them flow, cutting out the fat,” the producer explained. “Stevie would go crazy – ‘Oh, that verse was about my mother! That part was about my dog!’ [laughs] These things would mean something to her, but they had to work for the listener.”
Ken Caillat said the song “Gold Dust Woman” sounded “more evil” the longer Fleetwood Mac worked on it. “The song grew more evil as we built it,” he said. “I called over to SIR and they sent over a bunch of weird instruments, like an electric harpsichord with a jet phaser – that created a cool, whooshing sound. We weren’t looking for musicality, we were looking for accents, mood. We marked the keyboard with tape so Mick [Fleetwood] could play the right notes.”
The producer said that Stevie Nicks had been drinking before or during their recording session, and she became a “witch” complete with “coyote-like howling” for the song.
“Stevie had a lot of Courvoisier in her, and she did this incredible coyote-like howling at the end,” Caillat said. “She had become this witch she was always writing about.”
Happy Birthday to the iconic Stevie Nicks ? In 1981, Bob Welch rocked our stage along with a few friends from his former band Fleetwood Mac. Stevie joined with Bob and Mick Fleetwood to perform this rendition of ‘Gold Dust Woman’. pic.twitter.com/8D8gzOFMji
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Stevie Nicks has been open about her history of drug abuse, and she admitted that “Gold Dust Woman” is about cocaine.
“‘Gold Dust Woman’ was a little bit about drugs – it was about, you know, keeping going. It was about cocaine,” she said on VH1’s The Making of Rumours (per In Her Own Words). “…I don’t think I had ever been so tired in my whole life as I was when we were like – doing that. You know, I think it was shocking me – the whole rock’n’roll life – was really heavy and it was so much work and it was so everyday intense, you know. Being in Fleetwood Mac was like being in the army.”
She added, “So ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was really my kind of symbolic look at somebody going through a bad relationship, and doing a lot of drugs, and trying to just make it – trying to live – you know, trying to get through it to the next thing.”
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.