"All over the Internet, there are songs I wrote but never released, and people keep saying, 'Why don't you record these songs for real?' I'd never had time to do that. Now I had an empty, precious three months."

So Stevie Nicks tells Billboard during a discussion of her new album '24 Karat Gold,' which gathers previously unreleased material from her songbook and delivers officially recorded versions for the first time. As Nicks tells it, the idea for the album started when Fleetwood Mac were forced to cancel some tour dates in the wake of John McVie's recent cancer scare; as she put it, "I had some free time, and I thought, 'Maybe I should make a record.'"

Accustomed to taking a leisurely pace with her solo records -- and dealing with the various delays that are part of recording with a band of opinionated musicians like the ones in Fleetwood Mac -- Nicks was unsure of how to knock out a record in three months, so she reached out to producer and former Eurythmic David Stewart, who helmed her most recent release, 'In Your Dreams.' She admits she was initially suspicious of Stewart's claim that going to Nashville would give them the speed they needed, but it worked out: "We were there for three weeks, and we recorded 17 songs in 15 days."

Culled from throughout Nicks' career, some of the songs on '24 Karat Gold' (including the title track, 'The Dealer,' and 'Lady,' which are already streaming) were inspired by the relationships in her life, including her famously combative (and musically productive) time with Lindsey Buckingham and an affair with Don Henley. But just because she's used those memories as grist for songs doesn't mean she'll be spilling the beans on them in a memoir anytime soon.

"The world is not ready for my memoir, I guarantee you," she said. "All of the men I hung out with are on their third wives by now, and the wives are all under 30. If I were to write what really happened between 1972 and now, a lot of people would be very angry with me. It'll happen some day, just not for a very long time. Just because a relationship ended badly, and s----y things happened, you cannot tell that to the world. But you can write a song about it, in three verses and a bridge and a chorus, that tells the really magical moments."