Record Machine: Fleetwood Mac, “The White Album”

Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 self-titled reboot is the band’s first album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, but the real reason I’m talking about what is often referred to as the band’s “white album” is my birthday twin, that outstanding woman known as Christine Perfect McVie.

The cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The White Album"

Friends, in the midst of our Golden Globe live-tweeting fervor on Sunday, Consequence of Sound and Pitchfork broke the news that Christine McVie has rejoined Fleetwood Mac. In a November interview with The Guardian, she said:

“I think I was just music’d out,” she said. “I suffered from some kind of delusion that I wanted to be an English country girl, a Sloane Ranger or something … and it took me 15 years to realise that it’s not really what I wanted at all.”

Fleetwood Mac, back cover (1975)
See what I did there with the light coming through the window…

And I think she needs that band atmosphere to filter out the duds. Man, I wanted to love her third solo album In The Meantime, but apart from one or two okay songs, it was a dud for me. You all know how unapologetically forgiving I can be with the things/people I like, so it was that bad. When she and Lindsey really get cooking, it can be magic.

Let us listen to their co-authored “World Turning:”

Maybe I’m wrong but who’s to say what’s right
I need somebody to help me through the night

There are only a handful of lyrics repeated through the song, but there’s something about that guitar and the harmonies that are so different from the Stevie/Lindsey combination. When I saw the band live in 2004, Stevie sang Christine’s part, and while it sounded great, it wasn’t the same. Where Stevie has always been the “Here’s my emotional wreck, love it or leave it,” while Lindsey plays the arrogant maestro, Christine has always been the band’s voice of vulnerability. Her loves and her losses somehow feel more private than Stevie’s.

All that I want is someone to take care of me,
I’m not asking for love,
Just a little sympathy.

I love this album for its calm-before-the-storm excellence. Rumours blew Fleetwood Mac into the stratosphere of known musicians, and this was all before the drugs and the ’80s synths took hold. Even one of my least favorite Mac songs, “I’m So Afraid,” is at its best here, where Lindsey is limited to 4:23 seconds and we don’t have that extended, self-indulgent guitar solo that features on the live albums.

Any song on the album, I could talk about in terms of musical importance or my personal connection. “Say You Love Me” is the song that converted me into fan, and “Over My Head” reminds me of the mixtape I made at 15 — one side for Christine songs, one side for Stevie.

Of course, we can’t forget that this is the album that gave us “Landslide” and “Rhiannon,” solidifying Stevie Nicks as the Welsh witch/fairy godmother we all wished to know.

I mean, watch this 1976 performance on The Midnight Special, especially from the 4:30 mark onwards:

As much as I love so many of Fleetwood Mac’s albums, this one has always been my favorite. Long may its legacy continue.

Lyric sheet/liner notes
Lyric sheet/liner notes, classic Penguin image in tow.

Side One

Monday Morning
Warm Ways
Blue Letter
Over My Head

Side Two

Say You Love Me
World Turning
Sugar Daddy
I’m So Afraid

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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