Inspiration strikes at the most wondrously random moments. The other day, Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk popped up on shuffle.
I realized that somewhere, out there, there is a remote tropical paradise – white sandy beaches, warm water, hammocks, pineapple, and a pliant native population who has never seen a white man. It occurred to me that these people might easily be impressed with a single flick of my lighter.
I would be declared to be The Pale God Who Brings Fire and, as ruler, I would declare Tusk to be my island kingdom’s national anthem.
Of course, it could go horribly awry, I could be deemed a malevolent sorcerer, and end up in a bubbling cauldron as soup (making Rhiannon – Stevie Nicks’ ode to a Welsh witch – more appropriate).
Plans for colonial conquest aside, there’s something about Fleetwood Mac that makes me think summer.
Maybe it’s because of the summer of 1977. Even though I had little interest in music, Rumours was inescapable and I was well acquainted with the album having heard most of the songs on the rock station adding ambiance over the speakers at our public pool.
By the time Fleetwood Mac managed to follow-up Rumours with Tusk, two years had elapsed and my interest in music was still little more than background noise that I heard with friends.
Over the ensuing years, radio would make me quite familiar with Fleetwood Mac. A slew of their songs were staples and hits on several formats.
From the first hits of the Buckingham and Nicks’ era through Tango In The Night, there were songs I might have tired of hearing (Rhiannon), but not one that I disliked.
And strangely enough, I owed none of it until I snagged a copy of their four-CD box set The Chain as a cut-out for less than ten bucks. It’s most certainly one of the shoddiest box sets in the history of mankind.
(a kindergarten art class could have done a better job with the presentation and likely put the damned thing into chronological order, too)
The music, though, was amazing. It was the first time I’d heard the early music of Fleetwood Mac and the greatness of guitarist Peter Green.
(and Green deserves far, far more than this cursory mention)
As for the later period of the band, I was stunned to realize that while the stuff I didn’t know wasn’t essential, there was a consistency that was rather remarkable.
And much of it had a breezy vibe to it no matter how melodramatic or, as Paloma pointed out, melancholic the lyrics.
So, with warmer weather here, the time seems right for some Fleetwood Mac…
Fleetwood Mac – Tusk
Bizarre and tribal, I heard Tusk incessantly from the bowling alley jukebox where my friends and I spent a lot of time in junior high. It’s “real savage like” and a testament to the twisted genius of Lindsey Buckingham.
Fleetwood Mac – Sara
I’d read for years that Sara was about a child that Stevie Nicks’ had aborted. Over at Popdose, they have a bit more on that.
I have no idea what Stevie’s going on about, but I don’t care. Sara might be her finest moment and it really does sound like someone “drowning in the sea of love.”
Fleetwood Mac – Storms
As I noted, Rhiannon has worn out its welcome with me and I prefer the chainsaw guitars of Hole’s version of Gold Dust Woman. But Storms is lovely, low-key, and an underrated jewel.
Fleetwood Mac – Only Over You
Christine McVie usually brought something sunny and playful to the Mac mix (Say You Love Me, You Make Loving Fun, Over My Head…), but she did heartbreak well, too.
Fleetwood Mac – Hold Me
When Mirage showed up in the summer of ’82, my burgeoning interest in music had reached critical mass. Hold Me (here’s the playful Christine McVie) was all over the radio that summer.
Fleetwood Mac – Peacekeeper
from Say You Will
Between Mirage and 2002’s Say You Will, the most commercially successful line-up of Fleetwood Mac released one lone album, Tango In The Night, in 1987. It too got a ton of radio play, but I was in college, experimenting with modern rock, and the album never really took root with me.
By 2002, radio (or what remained of radio) was pretty much dead to me. However, I do recall being pleasantly surprised when I heard Peacekeeper – yet another immaculately arranged song by Buckingham. The song immediately stuck in my head.
Does the chorus remind anyone else of Paul Simon’s Kodachrome?