Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
leetwood Mac was just coming off the release of the self-titled Fleetwood Mac album in 1975 after adding Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the lineup. By any measure the self-titled album was a success. It was a hits monster with such notable tracks as “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me” and future classics “Rhiannon” and “Landslide”. There was no warning for the perfect storm brewing that would produce Fleetwood Mac – Rumours.
To set the stage: Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were on the outs after years of on-and-off again relationship and could barely stand the sight of each other. John McVie and Christine McVie were a little more amicable but going through a divorce and were heart-broken over it. Mick Fleetwood’s wife and mother of his two kids was found to be having an affair with his best friend. Off they went to the Record Plant in Sausalito, California, the boys staying in a separate location from the girls like some sort of high-drama teenage summer camp. Easy availability of drugs combined with plenty of cash on top of massive personal anguish and stress hardly seem ideal working conditions for anyone, but an inspiration gold-mine for artists.
It is now no secret that the songs penned by each member were their best attempts to communicate how they were feeling and at times deliver a direct and not-so-subtle message to their recipient. This scene makes clear the direct tit-for-tat that is “Go Your Own Way” by Buckingham and “Dreams” by Nicks. Then there’s the more hopeful “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Lovin Fun” from Christine. Christine also recorded “Songbird” which she wrote as a kind of prayer she wished for everyone as she was both witnessing others’ suffering and living through her own immense heartbreak. The songs had an undeniable depth and power behind them, perfectly molded and produced by Lindsay and Christine into the tour de force that is Rumours.
On a legendary album full of classic, “The Chain” sticks out to me the most. It is the only song that credits every member of the band as writers as well as all three vocalists Buckingham, Nicks, and C. McVie with vocal credits. The song encompasses, on a high level, the hurt each member was going through: The line “Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies,” An especially poignant verse in the song, “And if you don’t love me now, You will never love me again, I can still hear you saying, You would never break the chain.” seems to double as a futile ultimatum and an emotional call-out of a deeply personal broken promise.
The album is perfection born of anguish and heartbreak.
How does it hold up?
The album holds up perfectly well. After all, The Chain was just recently and brilliantly covered by Brandi Carlile’s super-group, The Highwomen. The themes that created this masterpiece are as old as time. Fleetwood Mac just took the raw emotions and turned them into a timeless set of songs.
Where are they now?
Stevie Nicks – Still rocking. Nicks enjoyed the most visible solo success after the classic Fleetwood Mac era. She had notable hits with both Glen Fry and Tom Petty as well as some classic hits with her solo efforts.
Lindsey Buckingham – Is still touring. While he has not enjoyed the same success as Nicks in his solo efforts he is still making music. Seeing Buckingham live will solidify for anyone the fact he is one of the most overlooked guitarists in rock and roll.
Mick Fleetwood – Has led a number of side projects over the years. Co wrote a book of his experiences in the music industry. And has had bit parts in TV/movies Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Running man.
John McVie – Has kept a low profile since Fleetwood Mac’s hey-day. Musically he toured with friend John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in 1981. John was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2013 and declared cancer free in 2017. He is also a sailing enthusiast.
Christine McVie – She semi-retired from Fleetwood Mac in 1998 and lived quietly writing songs in England. Returned to the band in 2014 and appeared on several side projects including vocal and writing contributions with Mick and Lindsey respectively. Christine and John still share a very close bond and maintain a strong friendship.
Should you listen?
Even if you have heard some of these songs individually or as background to a Tiktok or viral post (let’s face it, there is no way you have not even if you tried), grab your favorite headphones, your beverage(s) of choice, and set aside 38 minutes and 55 seconds to experience Rumours from start to finish. Relive their heartbreak, relive your own, make a viral video. You will not regret it, I promise.