Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published November 30th 2022
Christine McVie was a great talent
Yet again, my classic rock RSS feed has been inundated with sad news. This time it was the passing of long-time Fleetwood Mac keyboardist, vocalist and songwriter, Christine McVie.
Christine McVie: born 12 July 1943; died 30 November 2022
By Warner Bros. Records - Billboard, page 85, 14 May 1977, Public Domain,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27630975
I don't know much about Christine McVie as a person beyond her marriage to and subsequent divorce from Fleetwood Mac's bassist John McVie. But when it comes to music, she was one of the backbones of what has become the most popular Fleetwood Mac line-up, and even her subsequent music, like her recent album with Lindsey Buckingham, has been quite amazing.
But I didn't want to regurgitate a Wikipedia article here (knowing how "accurate" they tend to be), or something from another website. Instead, I will look at what is my favourite Fleetwood Mac album, and the one that is probably best known for its songs at least by the majority of classic rock fans.
This is Rumours (1977) by Fleetwood Mac.
(Taken from my cassette version)
Before I hit the album, I will say, this is a good one to remember Christine McVie by – her songs are some of the stand-outs on a really strong collection.
So, having watched a few documentaries on the making of this album, the fact it was made at all is an example of sheer determination. The band was in a state of complete dysfunction at this time. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were in the midst of a bitter break-up, Christine and John McVie were getting a divorce and Mick Fleetwood was also separating from his wife after she had an affair with one of his friends. And so was born a series of confessional and raw songs that have gone down as some of the finest in rock history.
Nicks has said in subsequent interviews that singing some of the songs written by Buckingham at this time has been difficult over the years and John McVie reiterated this with some of Christine's tracks. And yet they still played and created an album that was, allegedly, fuelled as much by drugs and alcohol as by pure emotion.
What they created was almost a musical miracle.
So… let's look at the album.
'Second Hand News' We open with Buckingham's kiss off to Nicks, and yet the song sounds so upbeat. Buckingham portrays himself as Nicks' yesterday, her second-hand news… and does he sound happy about it?
'Dreams' Was this Stevie Nicks' response to that track? "What you lost…" Does not matter. This song has gone down as one of the all time classics in the Fleetwood Mac canon, and for good reason. Nicks is in peak form here.
'Never Going Back Again' A gorgeous acoustic number from Buckingham, this is a song of regret and yet it is not that depressing. This is a constant theme here – things are going bad, but maybe that's the way they should be.
'Don't Stop' The first Christine McVie track, and one of the best songs ever recorded by the Mac (post-Peter Green, at least). It is a song of optimism amongst the negativity of the times they were going through, and was used to great effect by Bill Clinton as he ran for president in 1992. This is one of the greatest "things will get better" songs ever.
'Go Your Own Way' Back to Buckingham and some more anger. The lyrics say it all, really, but the song is another masterclass of writing and performing.
'Songbird' The next Christine track, a beautiful piano ballad that really showcases her playing and singing. This is a track that often gets overlooked, but it shouldn't.
On my cassette we have now reached side two of this collection.
'The Chain' This track was written by the entire band and it is heavy. Lyrically and with the forebody pulsing rhythm beneath it all. This is one of the definite highlights of this album.
'You Make Loving Fun' The song by Christine that made John cringe… because he was not the one who made loving fun, but her new partner. Ouch! Another really good track here.
'I Don't Want To Know' Nicks wrote it, she and Buckingham share lead vocals, and it's about two lovers breaking up but saying they want the other to be happy. There's a definite undercurrent of something else here, though.
'Oh Daddy' A moody piece from Christine this time, painting herself as the weak link in the relationship. It's rather depressing, really.
'Gold Dust Woman' Stevie Nicks again, and a slower piece about a woman who tried for love and lost. Self-referential? Not sure.
'Silver Springs' And we finish with Stevie Nicks again. Another slower one to close out the album, and a really beautiful track to boot. I believe that this is not on the original vinyl release, by the way.
And there we are – Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, and a perfect way to remember Christine McVie. This is one of the great classic rock albums. There is not a bad track here at all, and the band are in fine form despite everything else going on around them. Sometimes out of adversity comes the best art.
Thanks for the remembrances Steven.
I love the mix of voices and musicianship in Fleetwood Mac.
I remember once winning tickets to see Fleetwood Mac, I went to the radio station to pick them up and the young receptionist (work experience?!) had NEVER heard of Fleetwood Mac! Sadly the tour was cancelled, so I never got to see them. My favourite Christine McVie song is from their Landslide Album - Over My Head.