FLEETWOOD MAC’S RUMOURS

Growing up, something always seems to inhibit a full understanding of your parents. There are a few outlets, though, that seem to completely eliminate generational gaps, allowing parent and child to see eye to eye — music is one. The summer I bought a turntable and played old Fleetwood Mac vinyls until I knew every line by heart, I saw more of my mother in myself than I’d ever realized was there. This Re-Addicted is a family affair — the story of how an iconic and timeless band allowed me to realize how much of who I am comes from my mother.

My re-addiction to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is a generational one. When my mother was 18, she waited in line for hours for a chance to see the band whose music seeped through her skin and made her dance. This album soundtracked her hazy days as a young woman trying to figure everything out, and it remains one of her very favorites. I’m there now, totally disoriented and blinking at the blinding light that is LIFE, trying to find some meaning in it all. And just like that, 36 years after its release, Rumours has somehow found its way onto my turntable, making me want to ache and celebrate all at once. I’m continuously stricken by its every lyric, melody, and beat. The bond that has formed between my mother and I over this album’s influence has been hugely transformative to me. Our parallel reactions to it have opened up my eyes to the blundering notions of Adolescent Me that there was some inherent separation between her and I. There’s not — we’re just two women who know good music when we hear it, and by god, you better believe we’ve already got tickets to one of the concerts in April. RumoursFleetwood Mac, music — they have phenomenal power if you let them.

They are universally appealing. Fleetwood Mac is not a band whose enjoyment is reserved for music elitists, esoteric cult nerds, or those who are stuck in the past. Most anyone can hum a line from “Rhiannon” or “Go Your Own Way”. We like them because they were (and are) a near-perfect mix of catchy pop hooks, killer vocals and harmonies, and classic rock instrumentation. The band’s five main members* were heavily intertwined in each other’s lives, and each person brought a distinct musical persona to the table. At their prime, Fleetwood Mac saw more commercial success than most bands ever dream of. More importantly, however, their songs whisked people’s hearts away, hit square in the gut, and became deeply ingrained in American and British music culture.

Their success came as a result of long-term dedication. Nowadays, music-sharing platforms are incredibly accessible to musicians. No matter who you have working for you or how much experience you’ve got under your belt, you have the opportunity to be heard. With the Internet, you can release your debut album and end up topping charts within a year. Did you know, though, that Fleetwood Mac existed for nearly ten years before finding large-scale success with their self-titled, a.k.a their White Album, (“Rhiannon,” “Over My Head,” “Landslide”) and two years later with Rumours (“Don’t Stop,” “Dreams,” “You Make Loving Fun”)? One of the major keys to their success came on New Year’s Eve of 1974 with the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. With Buckingham on guitar, and Nicks’ spot-on songwriting and spirit-like stage presence, the band truly found a sweet spot in their career. The couple (and they actually were a couple) brought to Fleetwood Mac an incredible je ne sais quoi, and, I think, completed the band in a major way.

Their art was unhindered and perhaps even fueled by struggle. While Rumours was being recorded, John and Christine McVie were going through a divorce, as were Mick Fleetwood and his wife, and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were ending a long-term relationship. On top of it all, the drug scene in Sausalito, CA, where the recording was being done, was huge, and Nicks was struggling with a cocaine addiction. To be able to produce the kind of art they did during the period from ’76 to ’77 while fighting these internal battles is incredible, and a pretty solid indicator of a great band.

Their live performances are otherworldly. Come on. Who wouldn’t stay if Stevie promised them heaven?! Say:

*When referring to “the band,” I am talking about its core members during the ’70s and ’80s: Mick Fleetwood (drums), John McVie (bass), Lindsey Buckingham (guitar and vocals), Stevie Nicks (vocals), and Christine McVie (keyboard and vocals).

You guys, they’re actually ON TOUR. Last fall, Fleetwood Mac announced that they would be touring 34 cities around the world. Nicks mentioned that the band would be focusing primarily on performing their classic repertoire, although there will be several brand new songs written by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood on the setlist as well. The tour kicks off in early April in North America and will continue well into the fall, ending in Europe. I was disappointed to realize that a huge fixture of the band, Christine McVie, won’t be touring, seeing as she apparently quit the band in 1998?! (Where have I BEEN.) I guess I’ll just have to watch this badass video of her singing “You Make Loving Fun” on fullscreen a few times to get my fix. Sigh.

The band members have also been busy with their solo careers over the past few years. Stevie Nicks has been promoting her 2011 album In Your Dreams, her first release in ten years. Lindsey Buckingham has put out a couple live albums in the past few years, as well. Mick Fleetwood, a long-time blues musician, has put out several albums with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band over the last decade.

Sharon Van Etten

Thank goodness I’m finding more and more ’60s-and ’70s-inspired contemporary music these days. Sharon Van Etten is one of my favorites, particularly her second most recent release, Epic. The petite album is packed with addictive melodies and thick harmonies, visceral, jammy beats and baselines, and, of course, Sharon’s ooey-gooey gorgeous vocals. Check out her song “Save Yourself“, a delicious fusion of styles from Fleetwood Mac and contemporaries, The Velvet Underground’s.

The Velvet Underground

Speak of the devil! This totally iconic ’60s and early ’70s band had a slightly mellower style than Fleetwood Mac, giving off vibes which were more “Dreams” than “Little Lies.” My favorite of theirs will always be “Oh! Sweet Nothin’“, although I sure did like when Nico sang with them.

Foxygen

A few weeks ago, young Californian duo Foxygen released their second album. I have been hooked on them since, because they do such a good job fusing earthy, relaxed ’70s jams with wispy, ethereal psych elements. Check out the single from their album, “Shuggie”, here (and take a peek at the sidebar, too — they’re currently in the middle of a pretty thorough North America/UK tour!).

The Spring Standards

I’ve been following these guys for awhile, and it was their rich harmonies that first got me hooked. When I explain them to people, Fleetwood Mac is always mentioned. Lead singer Heather Robb has a strong, soaring voice that reminds me of Nicks’ early work. Their song “Sharks” never fails to give me goosebumps.

  • Caitlin Worrell

    Check out my blog! musicmediamix.wordpress.com
    cnworrell@mix.wvu.edu

  • Caitlin Worrell

    Really enjoyed reading this reflection! The generational connection through music is undeniable and something I also did not realize until I reached college. Rumours has so much to offer listeners, despite musical preference.

    Before this world of new technology, artists put in the the grunt work to gain exposure. Fleetwood Mac’s hard-fought rise to fame is a testament to their lasting artistry and the universal message of their songs.

  • Cussin’ Jack

    Great column, Terra.  I was 13 when Rumors was released.  I remember vividly the buzz in the hallways of my Junior High (you kids call it Middle School now).  Everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) who was anyone had the album and knew every word and every nuanced inflection in the music. 

    Of course those were the days before iPods and carry along music and we were so remote we didn’t even have a radio station to listen to … except for WLS AM out of Chicago who boosted their signal to 50,000 watts at night.  I’ll bet every teenager within a 40 state radius tuned in to WLS to hear John “Records” Landecker spin Fleetwood Mac.  Timeless album that just flowed.

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