Stevie Nicks Originally Wrote ‘Leather and Lace’ for Waylon Jennings and His Wife, Jessi Colter
In 1981, Stevie Nicks had a stockpile of songs going in to record her solo debut, Bella Donna, including “Leather and Lace.” However, the song wasn’t originally supposed to appear on the multi-platinum album. Initially, Nicks wrote it for country singer Waylon Jennings and his wife, Jessi Colter.
Stevie Nicks originally wrote ‘Leather and Lace’ for Waylon Jennings and his wife Jessi Colter
The Recording Industry Association of America certified Bella Donna platinum only three months after its release in 1981. Nicks’ solo debut had also reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart by then too. However, those songs had already been a part of Nicks’ life for some time.
In 1982, Nicks told High Times that she’d recorded demos of “The Highway Man” and “Leather and Lace” with Don Henley in 1975. Although, as High Times pointed out, Nicks originally wrote “Leather and Lace” for country singer Waylon Jennings and his wife, Jessi Colter.
“I wrote it for them and I wanted them to do it,” Nicks said. “WayIon Jennings asked me to write a song called ‘Leather and Lace.’ That’s his title.
“So I did and I spent a lot of time on the psychology of the man and the woman in the music business both being stars in their own right and trying to live with each other and work and give Waylon a break and let him be a little weaker for a minute and let Jesse be a little stronger for a minute.
“This is a long time ago. This is what I was searching for even then. I mean, I was writing about Waylon Jennings and Jesse Colter, but I was writing about me and Lindsey [Buckingham, of Fleetwood Mac].
“And I was, at that point, going out with Don Henley and I was writing about Don and me. I was writing about the few couples that I knew and what they went through to try and work it out.”
After Jennings and Colter broke up, Nicks still wanted to record the song
In “Leather and Lace,” Nicks talks about a couple who are trying to have a long-distance relationship. For Nicks, it was really about her life, constantly saying goodbye to the man in her life as she continues to go on the road. Jennings and Colter were able to navigate a relationship without worrying about that.
However, they did break up for other reasons when Nicks recorded Bella Donna. So, Nicks had to figure out what she wanted to do with the tune. She didn’t want it to go into her chest of forgotten songs. “Leather and Lace” was worth more than that.
“I guess Jesse and Waylon sort of broke up around then,” Nicks continued to explain. “And I felt in my heart that either I had to do this song with Don, or Waylon had to do it with Jesse, or Waylon and I had to do it. Those were the only three possibilities for that song to be done. It was the most disciplined song I had ever written and I had to finish it.”
Ultimately, Nicks took back the song and recorded it with Henley.
Nicks lived the story in ‘Leather and Lace’ many times
Songs like “Leather and Lace” and “Belle Fleur” perfectly describe Nicks’ love life as a rock star. She constantly said goodbye to romances because of her lifestyle.
Speaking about “Belle Fleur” to MacLean’s, Nicks said, “‘Belle Fleur’ was about not being able to have a relationship because you were a rock ’n’ roll star…
“The [lyric] ‘When you come to the door of the long black car’—that’s the limousine that’s coming to take you away. Then your boyfriend is standing on the porch waving at you, like, ‘When are you going to be back?’ And you’re like, ‘I don’t know, maybe three months?’
“But then we would add shows to a tour and I could end up not being back for six months. It was difficult for the men in my life. I lived that song so many times.”
Being a rock star was a hindrance to Nicks’ love life. “I find it nearly impossible,” Nicks told High Times. “Anyone that you meet is going to be in some way in the business. I don’t meet people who aren’t in the business. I don’t go anywhere to meet them. What am I going to do, sit in a bar?
“At some point or another, my job gets to them. It’s easy to understand,” Nicks continued. “‘No, I can’t have dinner, I have interviews.’ ‘But we were in New York all week and we didn’t get to have dinner once.’ ‘I’m sorry, what do you want me to do, call everybody and cancel?'”
Nicks has come to terms with her lifestyle. At least she got to vent about her frustrations in her songs.