As unclear as this song is, that's because it's about a hazy subject - Stevie overcoming her drug addiction, a theme she also addresses in Welcome to the Room...Sara. She was forced to get help after it became obvious to everyone that she needed it... her doctor even told her she could die from a brain hemorrhage the next time she did coke. Getting off drugs is hard, though - in rehab, she felt like she was in a Wonderland of craziness (hence the title "Alice," from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass). She felt like she lost herself with those drugs and she had to come to terms with life without the aid of artificial stimulants. Once she returns from that place, from "the other side of the mirror", she can live again - but it will be hard, so she "prays for the world that she comes from" - a world still full of harsh reality and people still destroying their lives. Everyone has their defense mechanisms "that they carry", and Stevie's was drug use, but she has to give that up now and "run for her life" from their destructive influences.
Alice is one of Stevie's most magical songs, but it's difficult to understand. This song appears on The Other Side of the Mirror, the first solo album she did after Lindsey left Fleetwood Mac. It's also her first solo work she put out after overcoming her cocaine addiction. I think the songs on that album are very painful and very real, and Alice is no exception. I think this song is a masterpiece. Stevie is brilliant for comparing her own problems to the Alice In Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass stories. I believe that this song is about finally kicking her cocaine habit and trying to move on with her life.
It starts out with what seems to be a conversation between two people, talking about Stevie. "He said that's what I heard, I hear she went higher" could mean that they know Stevie was on cocaine, and that it got serious. She went higher until she had to take herself into rehab. "She depended on her friends to tell her when to stop it" is pretty self explanatory. She could no longer control herself, she depended on other people to tell her when to stop doing coke. They had to "make a statement" to her. "This is me talking to you", they're trying to get her to pay attention to what they're saying to her. But did she listen?
Now she compares herself to Alice, from Lewis Carroll's stories. "Like Alice through the Looking Glass, she used to know who she was" Stevie used to know who she was and what her dreams were, before the drugs, before fame. But now she's lost in her own Wonderland, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. All she knows is she must escape before it's too late, like in the story. She has to get off cocaine now, or she'll die. "Call out my name...call out my name, but I get no answer" In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice's sister has to call her name to wake her up. But no one is trying to help Stevie, no one's "calling her name", so "she prays".
"Better run for your life, cried the Mad Hatter" refers to the Mad Hatter, another insane character in the Alice stories. She has to "run for her life", run to rehab, she has to get her life back. Stevie finally decides she's had enough.."alright said Alice, I'm going back to the other side of the mirror..I'm going back" She decides to leave Wonderland and get off coke. But it was just another failed attempt. Then the song branches out, and she expresses some anger. "Oh no, you cannot tell a gypsy that she's no longer a member" I think she's talking to Jimmy Iovine here, who left her after her addiction got so bad it was affecting her personality. He can't just tell her she's not wanted anymore, he can't leave her. He thinks that she's "become a deadly weapon now, along with everything else"..and she asks him to "call her name.." but he doesn't. He can't help her.
Again she repeats the chorus, but at the end she adds more. "And she prays for the world that she comes from" means that she's praying to her world for help. But which is her world? I'm guessing music or her family. But they can't help her either. Now she branches off again, and observes the people around her. "Each had their own charm..buried beneath a solid piece of armour" could refer to Fleetwood Mac. They all had their charm, but they were protected with "armour", they were guarded. "Some carry a stilleto in their garter" some are extra careful that they don't get hurt again, so they carry a stilleto just in case. I think this is Lindsey, who left Fleetwood Mac because he was hurting. Now he won't let anyone in, especially not Stevie because he had hurt her before. And again, she cries "oh, call my name...", but Lindsey and the rest of Fleetwood Mac can't help her either.
She repeats the chorus again, and at the end she finally yells out "Alice!". She finally asks herself to "call her name". Stevie is Alice, she is the only one who can overcome her addiction. Again, the Mad Hatter tells her to "run for her life", and she does it this time. She listens and she "goes back to the other side of the mirror", she admits herself to rehab. In the lines "this is me talking to you, this is me talking to ya!" she gets it, she now realizes that she had to call her own name. Only herself could get through this, no one could help. She softly calls to herself "Alice...Alice...", and she emerges on "the other side of the mirror".
One of the lines in Alice is "'Run for your life,' cried the Mad Hatter". This obviously suggests a sort of insanity of the Alice in Wonderland theme, the crazy character in the world. Could it be, however, that she's also referring to Tom Petty, who donned a Mad Hatter costume in his video "Don't Come Around Here No More" four years earlier? Given how closely the two have worked in the past, such a connection seems logical. "Run for your life / I'm going back to the other side of the mirror" may suggest that Petty has
inspired or convinced her to overcome her addiction to drugs, and she is going back to the other side of the mirror - back to reality.