“When I interviewed her in 2014, I confessed “Ooh My Love” was my favorite. “That’s one of my favorites too,” she 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. I was drug-free and I was happy.”
“Ooh My Love” is her sleek synth-pop power ballad about a princess who hides behind her castle walls. She dreams of the world outside, but she’s terrified of letting her walls down — a very Stevie Nicks dilemma. She belts her wildly emotional vocal (“Yes, it was a strain on her/Watching her castles fall down”) over a New Wave guitar groove from the Fixx’s Jamie West-Oram. Stevie as a princess trapped in her palace is like Bowie’s Major Tom inside his space capsule. “Ooh My Love” is her version of Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” or Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love,” as she fights to escape a solipsistic nightmare. A the end, when she wails “It was a strain on meeeee” — it’s powerful as Bowie pleading, “I want an axe to break the ice,” or Bush shrieking, “Take my shoes off and throw them in the lake!” A heartbreaking song that only Stevie could have done. But hardly anyone was listening.
“Ooh My Love” came after she kicked cocaine — but before her even more destructive addiction to benzos. It was a moment of clarity she commemorated with a very special album, The Other Side of the Mirror. She holed up in a Hollywood mansion with producer Rupert Hine, a dashing Brit whose track record included the Fixx, Howard Jones and Tina Turner. (“Better Be Good To Me,” you remember that one.) The songs had a goth Alice in Wonderland vibe, over Hines’ lavish R&B synth pulse.
“Those songs are different,” she told me in 2014. “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.
“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.”
Even by Nicks standards, “Ooh My Love” had a messy history. As she said in January, “I stole that from Tom Petty — accidentally! 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.”
Stevie sang her lyrics over it and began demoing it with Fleetwood Mac for Tango in the Night. She was so proud of this new tune, she called up Tom on tour in Japan to pay it for him. “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.’”