Have you ever found yourself fulfilling what you thought you would never do? Sometimes your life becomes so muddled you fill yourself with myths and falsities. These can include, engaging in a relationship you know isn’t beneficial or maybe ending a friendship that you never thought would end. Maybe you don’t realize you’re playing to your own ridicule.
Mick Fleetwood was one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac, even before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the group. At the time of this recording he had discovered that his wife, mother to his daughter, was having an affair with his best friend.
Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were dealing with their on and off again relationship. Supposedly, Nicks and Fleetwood were having a fling since the former relationship was not working out.
John McVie and Christine McVie were married prior to this album, but got a divorce in the vicinity to this albums production. They would only speak music, not personally.
As you can see, it may have been rather difficult to work with your fellow bandmates in such turmoil. Now add all night parting and cocaine addictions and you have the whole time complete.
What do you get from such an embattled band? A brilliant album.
The album tells the full story for each band member individually, while collectively telling the story of the members as a whole.
First the album starts off with “Second Hand News,” penned by Lindsey Buckingham. This seems to have been a clear message for Nicks and maybe even Fleetwood. The song talks about how there is nothing to say or do about a given relationship. He simply wants to “lay in tall grass and do his stuff,” while realizing he is just second hand news. Oddly, Nicks is heard prominently in the background vocals.
Buckingham went on to write 2 more songs for the album (excluding “The Chain” which the group wrote together). The next two songs are “Never Going Back Again” and the hit, “Go Your Own Way.” “Never Going Back Again” seems to be slightly remorseful, at one point stating to “come down and see me again,” yet it does end with him clearly stating he’s never going back. “Go Your Own Way” is basically telling a past girlfriend “screw you,” stating that she can go her own way and it will be another lonely day.
Next we come to Stevie Nicks. She doesn’t seem quite as bitter as Buckingham. In Fleetwood Mac’s only number one single that was written by Nicks, “Dreams,” she is shrugging her shoulders, telling her lover that she isn’t the one to keep him down. She ponders what he will lose and what he had, but in the end these are dreams. It’s almost as if she wants to say screw you, yet she doesn’t have the heart to. The next song Nicks wrote was “I Don’t Want to Know.” This song says how she doesn’t want to know the reasoning of actions in the relationship, yet she wants the ex to feel fine. Where Buckingham brought the forget you songs, Nicks brought self indulgent lover’s optimism.
Nicks also wrote the last song to the album “Gold Dust Woman,” which explains the challenges of the music industry with drugged up metaphors.
Next, you have Christine McVie. Her first song is quite encouraging and is entitled “Don’t Stop.” She is stressing the need to go on and not live in today’s problems, but not to stop “thinking about tomorrow.” Her next two songs seem to center around her new relationship with one of Fleetwood Mac’s lighting technicians. In “Songbird” she ensures there will be no more crying and that she loves him like never before. She also let’s the lighting man know that she is so happy with the things he does for he makes loving fun (“You Make Loving Fun”). Her last song is directed toward Mick Fleetwood. The song “Oh Daddy” portrays Fleetwood as the glue to this album, and in the end, the band. He always knew what was right for the band. You have to wonder, did Fleetwood see the musical genius that was becoming of such turmoil?
The only song the whole group worked on lyrically together was “The Chain.” This song is the album’s summary, yet it is the first song on side 2. It acts as a link between the two sides of both the record, and the relationships. The only way this song makes since is looking at the context of which this album was recorded. This tune also provides the best harmonies and most dramatic musical arrangements of the whole album.
This album is now nearly 30 years old. In retrospect, you have to wonder, did they all know they were playing songs about themselves? The irony of this album has provided its sustainability. The music that resulted has been heralded by fans and critics alike. It has sold nearly 40 million copies worldwide and is often at the top of many “best albums” list. It also won the Grammy for album of the year.
This album happens to be my favorite album. I love its versatility, musical arrangements, and harmonies. I love how it visits every realm of love and how every vocal and instrument is played with passion. I love the albums often mysterious metaphors and its confusing cover. The artistry of this album is unparalleled. I would gladly visit the Rumour mill any day.
Fleetwood Mac performing “Dreams” in 1997.