The Song Stevie Nicks Said She Stole From Tom Petty: ‘I’m Absolutely a Total Criminal and a Thief’
Stevie Nicks essentially begged Tom Petty to be friends with her. She refused to go away, and Petty gave up trying to make her. After those strange beginnings, Nicks and Petty worked on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Separately, Nicks worked on her solo debut, Bella Donna, and Petty continued work with his band The Heartbreakers.
However, Nicks was never far away. Since she’d integrated herself into Petty’s life, they shared a producer and a recording studio. When Nicks or Petty weren’t recording, they hung out. So, it was only a matter of time before either of them stole a song from each other-accidentally or not.
Stevie Nicks accidentally took home a mixtape that belonged to Petty and his band
During a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, Nicks admitted she accidentally stole her song “Ooh My Love” on 1989’s The Other Side of the Mirror from Petty.
“I stole that from Tom Petty — accidentally!” Nicks explained. “I picked up the wrong cassette at Tom’s one night, a tape of Mike Campbell’s instrumental demos. Tom would get them first, and then the ones he didn’t want, Mike sent them to me. I accidentally arrived home one night with a cassette — I thought it was mine, but it was Tom’s.
“It just said, ’24 Demos from Mike Campbell.’ It had the song that inspired ‘Ooh My Love,’ which became ‘Runaway Train’ for Tom. I took it into Fleetwood Mac and sang my lyrics over it. We started to record. I loved it so much, I called Tom and said, ‘Listen to this!’ What an idiot, right? Let’s play him the song you stole over the phone!
“Tom just starts screaming at me on the other end of the phone. I’m realizing, ‘How stupid are you, Stevie?’ So I had to go in the next day and tell Fleetwood Mac, ‘Guess what, we can’t do this song.’ ‘Why can’t we do it?’ ‘Because I stole it from Tom Petty, and I’m absolutely a total criminal and a thief.’
“These are the ups and downs of being friends with other songwriters. So we erased it. Then way later, years down the road, I sat down at the piano and tried to recall it. I wrote ‘Oooh My Love’ on the piano: ‘In the shadow of the castle walls…’ Of course, I don’t know near as many chords as Mike Campbell does. All I remembered was that distant enchanted melody.”
Rolling Stone pointed out that the song sounded like “quintessential Stevie.” Nicks replied, “Me and Tom and Mike Campbell, we’re like quintessentially three parts of one person.”
‘Ooh My Love’ is one of Nicks’ favorites mainly because it was ‘written right before the Klonopin kicked in’
“That’s one of my favorites too,” Nicks said. “In fact, ‘The Other Side of the Mirror’ is probably my favorite album. Those songs were written right before the Klonopin kicked in. ‘In the shadow of the castle walls’ — that song was very important to me.
“I was lucky those songs were written when they were, before that nasty tranquilizer. It was a really intense record. People don’t talk about that record much, but it was different from all the others. It was a moment in time. I had gotten away from the cocaine in 1986. I spent a year writing those songs.” Nicks said she “was drug-free and I was happy.”
“Then the Klonopin really kicked in. To go from The Other Side of the Mirror to Street Angel… that was difficult. I was a wreck and the album was a wreck. They’re called ‘tranquilizers’ for a reason. You stop being so committed. This doctor had me on it for eight years.”
“Those songs are different. That was a moment in time. And you know what? That time never came again, either. That particular record was specific, and nothing like that ever came around again. I’ve always kind of hoped that it will. Because it was a magical time. Up in that big castle-y house in Mulholland, with the producers and the girls.”
Nicks might have given the cassette back but Petty helped her a lot on her solo debut
The “Silver Springs” singer might have given the cassette back to Petty and Campbell, but she still had a lot of help from them on her solo debut.
“He gave me ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” Nicks told Rolling Stone in 2019. “Had he not given me that song, let me candidly tell you, ‘Bella Donna’ might not have been a hit. That song kicked ‘Bella Donna’ right into the universe.”
Petty also indirectly helped her with “Edge of Seventeen.” One day, during the Bella Donna sessions, Nicks was hanging out with Petty and his first wife, Jane Benyo. Nicks asked Jane when she met Petty. Jane’s response unexpectedly triggered some inside Nicks.
“I asked Tom’s wife, Jane, when she met him,” Nicks told Billboard. “She said, ‘I met him at some point during the age of 17.’ But I thought she said, ‘The edge of 17.’ I said, ‘Jane, can I use that? Can I write a song called ‘Edge of Seventeen’?”
Nicks still holds some sadness about her late friend. “My biggest sadness about the Hall of Fame is that Tom is not here to enjoy this with me, because he would have been the proudest of me of anyone,” she said. Petty would be proud of Nicks.
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