I’ve heard all the jokes about this album — that it was issued to every suburban household in the late ’70s, that used record bins are full of them, that only your uncool parents enjoy these songs — but Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is an oft-purchased classic for a reason. It connects. For all its tendency to be overplayed during certain points after its release, the personalities and musicianship contained within the album make me happy every time I hear it.
As the second album to include Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Rumours has the band fully hitting their creative stride. Some would argue that Fleetwood Mac reached their peak in 1977, but I’d suggest that those people properly listen to 1979’s Tusk again. (We’ll talk about Tusk in a future column, I promise.)
I have three copies of this album, not counting the CD. One came, yes, from someone who was getting rid of their vinyl collection, one was already my dad’s, and the third was the version released in Mexico. The song titles are in Spanish, and it’s a cardboard sleeve with no liner notes, but otherwise, it is the same.
I’ve talked about Christine McVie’s “Songbird,” the closer for Side One, as part of of my All-Time Favorite Songs, but she has another excellent, mournful track nestled near the end of Side Two, “Oh Daddy:”
You soothe me with your smile,
You’re letting me know
You’re the best thing in my life
Written for Mick Fleetwood and his personal troubles at the time, while also alluding the troubles afflicting the band (divorce, affairs, drug problems, etc.), it’s a quiet moment before the exorcism that is Stevie Nicks’ “Gold Dust Woman.”
However, the true highlights for me are Lindsey showing off his finger-picking guitar style (without it veering too much into wanky guitar-solo territory, like “I’m So Afraid”) and he and Stevie’s Everly Brothers-inspired harmonies. “I Don’t Want to Know” is one of my favorite songs on the album, hand-claps and all:
The truth has been told
Now you tell me that I’m crazy
That’s nothing that I didn’t know
Trying to survive
You say you love me, but you don’t know
You got me rocking and a-reeling
When I first began listening to Fleetwood Mac, I was around 14 or 15. My dad didn’t play their music a lot, although he owned plenty, so my main exposure came from their 1997 reunion for The Dance. At first, I was annoyed by that concert constantly being on MTV, VH1 and PBS, not to mention the radio, but their omnipresence wormed its way into my brain. Then came the bassline two-thirds of the way through “The Chain,” and I thought, Yes.
(It’s around the 3:00 mark, if you’re skipping ahead. I suggest listening from start to finish, of course.)
The only song that gives all band members a songwriting credit, it’s moody and cathartic and perfect. If I had the song on in the car, I would often shush passengers so we could hear it. From what I remember reading about the album’s story, “The Chain” was written because bassist John McVie had been playing around with that riff and it didn’t have a home. They constructed the song around it. And they say bass players get no love…
Speaking of The Dance and “Gold Dust Woman,” I’d like to close with Stevie’s 1997 performance. It might be my favorite moment in that whole set. Sing it, Stevie.
Pick up the pieces and go home.
Second Hand News
Never Going Back Again
Go Your Own Way
You Make Loving Fun
I Don’t Want to Know
Gold Dust Woman