Taking creative conflict to the Fleetwood Max
On Saturday night, I went to a Fleetwood Mac themed club night. It was incredible. I danced my face off. But I don’t want to talk to you about my dancing. Nobody would. I want to talk to you about Fleetwood Mac. One album specifically. An album that had its 40th birthday this month.
That album is Rumours.
On first listen, on a purely musical perspective, knowing nothing about the album’s background, the songs are wonderful. Those harmonies on Second Hand News, the hypnotic lull of Dreams, the power of Go Your Own Way, the delicacy of Songbird, the damn RIFF from The Chain. It’s just everything you want, and need, in an album.
Then, you look into it and delve into the background. The five members of Fleetwood Mac started the process as two couples and a married man. A lot went down in the making of Rumours. A quick overview of the band:
Stevie Nicks (vocals)
*In a relationship with*
Lindsey Buckingham (vocals and guitar)
Christine McVie (vocals/keys)
John McVie (bass)
Mick Fleetwood (Bass)
*Married, two kids*
During the recording of the album, Christine and John divorced. Lindsey and Stevie also broke up. Mick found out that his wife, and mother of his children, was having an affair with his best friend.
I mean… that’s horrific for anybody. So knowing all that, now take another listen.
Dreams, sung by Stevie, goes to another level - “Players only love you when they’re playing”. Jesus.
Go Your Own Way becomes a blatant middle finger from Lindsey to Stevie - “Shacking up is all you wanna do”. That’s cold.
You Make Loving Fun, already relentlessly positive, is clearly a love song for Christine’s new guy. That classic bassline? Played by who else but her ex husband. Holy smokes.
And Gold Dust Woman, one of Stevie’s more cryptic sets of lyrics, is so dark, and so bitter.
it’s a true testament that the best songs often come from real pain. But while Rumours is an absolute masterpiece, it always makes me wonder if it’s worth it? I’ve been through break-ups, and it really does feel like a physical pain. I can only imagine how it feels when a marriage of six years comes to an end.
But, on the other hand, if you have to go through heartbreak, there is no better way to get the feeling out of your head than pouring it music, or writing, or art. Even if the result isn’t something you would ever show to anyone else, it helps. And if you’ve got the right mix of luck, timing and talent, you end up with Rumours.
In the end, I don’t think I could sing backing vocals every night on a song about how the one you loved - and probably still have feelings for - is happier without you. That would be far too brutal.
If anybody needs me, I’ll have my headphones in, listening to Dreams on repeat.