Generally speaking, Fleetwood Mac get a bum wrap. Recently, I have seen millennial writers lumping the Mighty Mac into their Yacht Rock countdowns, and it just about makes me barf. THE Big Mac I listened to in the Seventies and Eighties often walked the tightrope between being a rock and soft rock band. But, those were the hits. If you delved further into their albums, or, even more importantly, just listen to their off-wall, left for dead, now considered a classic double album Tusk so you can get a clearer picture about this band.
We all know the story. Fleetwood Mac was founded by 6’7″ drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie as a UK blues band. The first version was with guitarist Peter Green, but he had a breakdown and left the band. Next, in stepped Bob Welch, who score his solo hits after leaving the band (Remember “Sentimental Lady” and “Ebony Eyes”? Those were Welch’s hits.). By the mid-70s, the rhythm section of the band and McVie’s wife, keyboardist/vocalist Christine, were left wondering whom to add to the band. It was then that Fleetwood was given an album by a duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks which led Mick to invite the duo to join his band. And the rest, they say is history.
You see, their were rock stars in the Fifties and Sixties, but until the Seventies did artists begin becoming millionaires. And, Fleetwood Mac was one of the first bands to reach this status upon the release of their 1977 album Rumours, which chronicled the break-up of the McVie’s marriage, Fleetwood’s marriage and the long relationship between Buckingham and Nicks. This band had the audacity to stay together through the recording of vicious tunes aimed at each other. But, as their famous album cut “The Chain” reinforces, there is a chemistry between this group of musicians that could not be replicated. Whenever one of the members releases a solo album, that album never reaches the sales height of a Mac album. Nicks’ first album she close, but she never really replicated it’s success. And, when Buckingham is left to own devices, his music tends to go into the deep end, not that I care; I enjoy much of his solo albums. But, the bottom line is that the whole is greater than the sum parts.
In honor of a Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie duet album being released tomorrow, I present My 20 Favorite Fleetwood Mac Songs.
20. “Think About Me” (1979 Tusk). One of the few “normal” Mac-sounding songs on the album is just the relief most need when listening to the album.
19. “Little Lies” (1987 Tango in the Night). This song sounds dated and a little cheesy now.
18. “Hold Me” (1982 Mirage). The vocals on this seemingly simple song blow me away every time I hear it. Buckingham took the Beach Boys’ vocal influence a step further and made this song a classic.
17. “Seven Wonders” (1987 Tango in the Night). Now, this is the like of song that I love the Mac doing! It has rich harmonies and a slightly off-beat music that makes a timeless pop/rock song as only the Mac can do.
16. “Sara” (1979 Tusk). This is a standard Stevie Nicks song; yet, I don’t know why I never tire of these songs on their albums. I really think that she adds depth to the group’s musical repertoire.
15. “Oh Well” (Then Play On 1969). The original line-up made this song famous.
14. “Black Magic Woman” (Fleetwood Mac 1968). That’s right. Santana stole the song from the original Mac, added some Latin beats and the rest is history.
13. “Silver Springs” (1994 The Dance). An outtake from the 1975 album was resurrected for this MTV Special about the reunion of the band. They even cut great songs from their classic albums. Go figure!
12. “Albatross” (1968 Fleetwood Mac). At the time, this was the biggest selling instrumental in the UK. Unfortunately, it was never a hit here for the original lineup of the band.
11. “Don’t Stop” (1977 Rumours). This was one of Christine McVie’s contributions to their biggest selling album. The song got co-opted by the Bill Clinton campaign as their theme song, which lead to a reunion of the band at the inaugural ball.
10. “Over My Head” (1975 Fleetwood Mac). This is the first song that I ever heard by the most successful lineup of the Mac, and I was hooked.
9. “Gold Dust Woman” (1977 Rumours). Never really released as a single, this song continues to be played on the radio just like back in the day. And it hasn’t aged one bit.
8. “Landslide” (1975 Fleetwood Mac). Here is another Stevie song that, like “Gold Dust Woman”, has taken on a life of its own despite never being a single. Might be more known for the versions by the Dixie Chicks or Smashing Pumpkins.
7. “Tusk” (1979 Tusk). This is the sound of Buckingham, after listening to punk, came back to push the Mac into new musical soundscapes. It’s a crazy song, but it’s one that I continue to love to this day.
6. “You Make Loving Fun” (1977 Rumours). This was a song that was about remembering the good times in a relationship, even if it was only the physical stuff that was ever good in that relationship.
5. “Dreams” (1977 Rumours). This was the song that spoke to teenage girls all over. If only us stupid guys truly understood what Stevie was saying in this song…
4. “Songbird” (1988 Rumours). This Christine McVie song cut through the heartstrings and the cynicism that builds up during a relationship to show what was good about it once upon a time. I cannot believe she had the guts to sing the song while playing the piano and letting it be released in this form. It’s simplicity only adds to the pain and the beauty in the song.
3. “Rhiannon” (1975 Fleetwood Mac). This song introduced us to two things: witches and Stevie Nicks. The witch-thing was over-blown by the Moral Majority back in the day, but the gift of Ms. Nicks has been giving us fantastic music for 40+ years.
2. “Go Your Own Way” (1977 Rumours). One of the greatest piss-off songs to your partner in a relationship ever put to vinyl. I should have used this song as a break up song rather than being the jerk I was when I was younger. The downside is the amount of venom in the lyrics. Oh well, I guess I would have remained a jerk.
1. “The Chain” (1977 Rumours). This is a mission statement of sorts in which the whole band remains committed as musicians with each other even if they all can’t remain lovebirds. What a great statement! The sum is larger than its parts!
Now, that’s Fleetwood Mac according to me. Let me know what great songs I left off my list. One day I need to make a list of the great solo songs by members of the Mac. That might be fun.