By Abhinav Kaul and Ranaditya Baruah / Financial Chronicle (New Delhi, India)
Thursday, June 6, 2013
When I first heard Fletwood Mac, they were already way past their prime. Their glory years were long gone but it never showed when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham took the stage. Nicks’ voice has remained as sultry and phenomenal as ever and Buckingham’s mellow guitar licks have somehow managed to get cleaner over the years.
The British-American rock band was formed way back in 1967. The band has undergone numerous changes over the years, but most fans identify Fleetwood Mac with Mick Fleetwood on the drums, John McVie on bass, Lindsey Buckingham on the guitar and Stevie Nicks on vocals.
There is nothing in the music business that these rock and roll hall of famers have not seen. So, one might think after a 10 year break the band may have finally hung up their boots bringing an end to an illustrious career.
But putting an end to all such speculations, last month, Fleetwood Mac announced Extended Play, a four-song EP of new material — their first since 2003’s Say You Will, which had reached No 6 on the UK album charts, and achieved gold sales.
However, fans must be warned that this album is more a solo project of Lindsey Buckingham than a Fleetwood Mac album, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as most songs play it safe, adhering to the mid-tempo signature rhythms that best define the band’s music.
The lead track, “Sad Angel,” opens with the familiar jangles of “Go Your Own Way” — a momentary callback before we finally hear this new version of Fleetwood Mac. Like many of the group’s greatest songs, “Sad Angel” reflects on Lindsey and Stevie’s complex relationship. The track is a wonderful beginning to the record as “Sad Angel” is perhaps the most Fleetwood Mac-y on the album. It reminds one of the good stuff that the band belted out on record after record during their prime.
The new version of “Without You” is another welcome rendition. It’s an acoustic duet between Buckingham and Nicks — the only real presence she has on Extended Play. The 40-year-old track was most likely penned while they were madly in love with one another. Times have changed and both musicians have matured a great deal over the years but the song would definitely remind the old-timers of a more innocent time. The song was originally meant for a possible second Buckingham-Nicks album, before being dropped.
The following track, “It Takes Time,” is the only forgettable track on the album, but Fleetwood Mac close strong with the power-pop feel of “Miss Fantasy.”
Extended Play is a short tease, but these tracks aren’t throwaways or an attempt at a quick cash-in. Lindsey Buckingham wouldn’t associate with something like that. A known perfectionist, he co-produced the EP alongside Mitchell Froom, and the attention paid to detail shows. The songs don’t deviate far from Fleetwood Mac’s mellow-rock wheelhouse, and why should they? That’s exactly the kind of stuff that fans want from them.
Modern production techniques, which enhance Buckingham’s clean guitar tones and his vocal harmonies with Nicks, however seem too obvious at times.
Extended Play’s fleeting duration might be something fans would complain about. However, for being an out-of-the-blue release, Fleetwood Mac fans should be more than satisfied.
Fleetwood Mac are restless. After dozens of songs, albums, tours, and RIAA certifications, you’d think they would’ve reached a point of satisfied complacency, like when a star athlete hits the twilight of his or her career and admits, “I’ve done it all it’s time to retire.” Maybe Fleetwood Mac did, in fact, reach such a point after 2003’s Say You Will. The band announced an indefinite hiatus — its members diverting their concentration to their personal lives and solo endeavors. The Mac’s future was in question…
But if Michael Jordan wearing a Washington Wizards jersey taught us anything, it’s that you can’t keep The Best at bay while they still have the ability to play … and make lots of money. So in 2009, Fleetwood Mac reunited for a tour (which — just like Jordan on the Wizards — put asses in seats and made tons o’ cash). During the tour, Lindsey Buckingham dropped this nugget: “The time is right to go back to the studio.”
But for three years that promise went unfulfilled as Fleetwood Mac rode the nostalgia train all the way to the bank. Another world tour, TV appearances, and album reissues — no new music.
Via a surprise press release last month, Fleetwood Mac announced Extended Play, a four-song EP of new material — their first since 2003. Expectations were high for these songs, considering Buckingham’s aforementioned statements and the subsequent lack of fresh studio material from the band.
By its own nature, Extended Play can’t meet those expectations. A quick-hitting EP simply cannot contain the songwriting force that is Buckingham/Nicks/McVie. Shit, Rumours could barely contain ‘em (and Tusk overdid it). Instead, we don’t get that team at all. Just Buckingham. Every song on Extended Play is sung and written by him (“Without You” is a re-recording of an old Buckingham/Nicks demo).
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though it makes the EP feel more like a Buckingham solo project than a true Fleetwood Mac release. The songs play it safe, adhering to the midtempo rhythms that best suit his voice. Lead track “Sad Angel” opens with the familiar jangles of “Go Your Own Way” — a momentary callback before we finally hear this new, Christine McVie-less iteration of Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham’s fatalism is firmly in place: “My eyes saw the words / With a prayer and a curse / Your pain had to sleep/With a sword that it keeps.” They’re contemplative lyrics for an otherwise simple pop tune. Modern production techniques enhance Buckingham’s clean guitar tones and his vocal harmonies with Nicks. Even the compressed MP3s sound superb — magnifying every nuance, from the patter of Mick Fleetwood’s snare to the slight gravely tic in Stevie Nick’s voice (which proves that she is in fact 64, despite her age-defying looks).
The new version of “Without You” is a welcome rendition. It’s an acoustic duet between Buckingham and Nicks — the only real presence she has on Extended Play. Although it was likely written while they were madly in love with one another, the song emphatically contradicts that idea: “I’m so lonely babe/I can’t live without you.” The following track, “It Takes Time”, is a somewhat forgettable piano ballad, but Fleetwood Mac close strong with the hook-y power-pop of “Miss Fantasy”.
Extended Play is a short tease, but these tracks aren’t throwaways or an attempt at a quick cash-in. Lindsey Buckingham wouldn’t put his name on something like that. A known perfectionist, he co-produced the EP alongside Mitchell Froom, and the attention paid to detail shows. Sure, the songs don’t veer far from Fleetwood Mac’s mellow-rock wheelhouse, but why should they? Extended Play is hampered by its fleeting duration; however, for being an out-of-the-blue release that costs less than $5, Fleetwood Mac fans should be more than satisfied. Just know that you won’t be hearing much from Stevie Nicks or John McVie.
By Tim Staskiewicz / 100.7 WZLX (Boston)
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
For all intents and purposes, Fleetwood Mac has still got it. They’re currently playing a sold out tour which stopped in Boston back on April 18th. The band also has recently released a 4-song EP, aptly titled Extended Play. Mick Fleetwood joined Karlson & McKenzie this morning to talk about both the EP and the tour.
“It’s pretty amazing. I have to say that the four people walking on that stage — and obviously it’s more pointed for Stevie and Lindsay, these are two people who fell in love with one another when they were 16 years old — it is amazing,” Mick Fleetwood told Karlson & McKenzie this morning. “You’re right, my whole life with all the ups and downs, really an incredible amount of gratitude that I’m still walking around quite frankly. But we’ve managed to sustain this strange work ethic through all of these bits and pieces.”
Mick went on to talk about how he’s often approached with questions on misconceptions about Fleetwood Mac, the biggest being that the band hates each other, a rumor that Mick flatly denies.
“The misconception is that we don’t like each other. We do! We actually love each other. It’s just the co-existing of that from time to time no doubt has been incredibly hard,” Mick admits.
Fleetwood Mac is a band that loves music over money or personal strife, according to Mick. He admitted to Karlson & McKenzie that his relationship with Stevie Nicks was something they had to work through for the good of the band.
“Stevie pretty much remained even though we had a love affair, we managed to get through it. And that’s not often spoken about,” said Mick. “We’re not just a bunch of business men that decide to do this. When we do this, we have to be emotionally equipped to do it, and that is the amazing thing.”
Fleetwood Mac continues its tour, currently working their way through Canada before finishing out May on the West Coast.
Fleetwood Mac is having tremendous success on its current sold-out tour. The band is playing its classic hits with verve and enthusiasm, plus, since the recent release of 4-song EP, Extended Play, the quartet has new material to sink its teeth into. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham spoke to HitFix about the current state of Fleetwood Mac, the delight he takes in his still dynamic connection to Stevie Nicks, the latest on a full album from the band, and if Christine McVie will join her former band mates when they play London in the fall.
I saw the band two weekends ago at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and it seemed like you were on fire. The band was playing in daylight without any of the bells and whistles of an indoor arena show and no one missed them at all.
There’s a lesson there. We’ve all come to feel that we need to rely on the constructions of quite elaborate set design and the backdrop that changes from song to song and, really, this band, because we are a band of musicians and a great singer, we could go up there and with a couple of spotlights prevail probably just as well. It should be about the music first and, of course, with us, it is.
“Extended Play,” a four-song EP with your first new music in 10 years, came out on April 30 and landed in iTunes top 10. How gratifying was it that people were so eager to hear new music?
I haven’t paid too much attention to how things are going with it because, really, Mick [Fleetwood] and John [McVie] and I got together last year and we cut a bunch of tracks and then Stevie came to the table later. Even early on, Mick and John and I felt that the songs that we were doing were some of the best stuff we’d done in quite a while.
I am also happy with what it represents with the subject matter. The dialogues to Stevie that are, miraculously, still going on back and forth between Stevie and myself after all these years, I find that to be quite touching and somewhat surprising— something that neither one of us would have predicted years and years ago that we’d still somehow be driving each other’s motivation from a distance, and so I’m very happy with the way the EP turned out and it’s great to be doing some new things on stage.
You wrote one of the new songs, “Sad Angel,” for Stevie. What was her reaction when she first heard it?
I was not there, but I believe she latched onto it immediately. [When] that song was written, I was trying to reach out to her a little bit… she had a very good experience making her solo album [2011’s “In Your Dreams”] and it took her awhile to kind of sort of ease into the mentality of being in Fleetwood Mac again this time… That was a song to help lure her in a little bit, not that there was an agenda to do that, but it just seemed appropriate to what was going on at the time… “Hello Sad Angel, have you come to fight the war” and “Here we are, we fall to earth together/the crowd calling out for more.” It’s really sort of sweet that all of this is still taking place.
With piano ballad “It Takes Time,” you’re pleading for patience to someone who wants to heal you. What’s that about?
I guess the reflection is that I’m actually looking at some of the actions that I’ve taken over the years and maybe judging them more objectively and maybe getting to a point in one’s life where you can look back and say, “Hmmm, maybe I could have done that differently” and acknowledging that much of the motivation that has driven certain creative actions and certain decisions has come from that dialogue that seems to have unfolded in slow motion over a period of many years. We are still somehow on a road of evolvement.
Is that one about Stevie?
I would think so.
It’s not the only relationship you’ve had, so I wasn’t sure.
But, you know, you can slip into these roles and it’s not that the feelings that you have aren’t… it doesn’t mean they are any less authentic. But at this point, to some degree, what Stevie and I have, we’ve played these characters for so long, you know, and it doesn’t threaten anything having to do with my home life, my wife completely understands the dynamic of it. There’s a certain aspect of professionalism to it.
Do you feel that in some way now it’s part of your role to keep playing into this mythology?
Well, it’s a mixed bag. There is the mythology and there is, you could call it, a role, but you know that doesn’t mean we haven’t lived it. If you backtrack all the way back to Rumours, when all of this mythology rose up, if you look at the appeal of that album, it went beyond the music. It was, whether people could identify it or not, this idea that under less than ideal circumstances, in fact, under quite emotionally challenging and painful circumstances, that we were able to somehow summon up the strength to rise above that and to sort of follow through on what we needed to do fulfill our destiny, if you want to call it that. And so the subtext of Rumours becomes not the soap opera part so much as that it was an act of will and that has continued. Where reality stops and where the role begins, it’s a little fuzzy in there, you know.
So not just for us, but for you two too?
For us too! Yeah, and I think that’s appropriate and I don’t know how it could really be any other way because of how it began, you know.
This is the first tour since 2009. Every time you guys come back together for a tour, you must discover something new about Mick, John and Stevie. What have you discovered about each one of them this time that you didn’t know?
(laughs) Wow… As far as Stevie goes, again, if you go back to that song “It Takes Time” and thinking maybe about times in the past when maybe I could have shown her a little more love or shown her a way to make her process a bit easier. From the first day of rehearsal, I had that in mind to try to do.
I think that difference between Stevie and me right now on this tour: If you go back two tours to 2003, we had just finished doing our last album, Say You Will, and I had produced that. And there was a certain, I wouldn’t call it an animosity, but there was a lot of tension between Stevie and me. Some of that polarity clearly played out on stage and, in a way, it made for a very interesting show. When you cut to 2009, that had been kind of neutralized, but there was nothing so tangible between us. And now, it’s sort of swung the other way where there’s more of a connection. There’s more of a mutual acknowledgement of what we’ve been through, an openness to acknowledge it on stage.
With John and Mick, the only thing I’d say about John and Mick on this tour is that they are both personally in, I think, the best places I’ve seen them in a long time and possibly because of that, I have never heard the two of them play better as a rhythm section and, of course, they are one of the great rhythm sections in rock. Consequently, as a band, we are playing about the best I can ever remember us ever playing.
You brought up that there may be a new album, but given the difficulty of getting these four songs together, should the fans not be holding their breath?
What needs to happen now if we are to do a complete album— because I think my portion of the material is not only written and recorded, but probably mostly finished— Stevie needs to come with some new material… She’s not like me, I work alone a lot when I do my solo stuff. It’s like going down to the studio and painting. I’m kind of self sufficient… With Stevie, she will write lyrics and keep them in a file and a lot of times she doesn’t even come up with melodies until later, until someone says, ‘well, you’ve got to come up with something.”
There are two scenarios that could lead to new material for Stevie, some of it would be her coming up with new songs. I have a lot of very raw stuff that has no lyrics yet…and if she wanted to sort of co-write on that level, I would love to look into [that] because we’ve never really done that. That’s an intriguing possibility. But that’s what it’s going to take: for her to bring, in one way or another, some stuff to the table so we have a balanced representation between the two writers.
I’m not overly worried about what we do. Hey, if we don’t do an album, we could always do another EP. That would be another option, so I don’t really know what’s going to happen.
Extended Play also features “Miss Fantasy,” a new track with very classic Fleetwood Mac harmonies. How did that come about?
That was sort of in a moment when I’d had some interaction with Stevie where I felt like I was tapping into the whole lexicon of memories and of emotional connections going all the way back to before she and I were a couple. She was really much caught up in the world of her solo effort. It was right at the end of that and I felt like it was hard to kind of find her in all of that or that perhaps more accurately, it was harder for her to find me, and the person that she knew and trusted and so you know, “Miss Fantasy,” it may be “you don’t remember me/but I remember you” and that’s really what that’s about.
Any truth to the rumors that Christine McVie, who left after 1997’s “The Dance,” might get on stage with Fleetwood Mac in London?
We did see Christine. She was in LA [on her way back from Maui]. Mick got her to come over to Maui for awhile… When she was living in LA and finally left the band, it was for a number of reasons. I think she really needed to burn as many bridges as she could. She got a divorce, she sold her house, she sold her publishing, she quit the band, she moved back to England. It was a radical set of things that she did all at once. Some of the reasons for that, I don’t exactly grasp, but, you know, what are you going to do?
She is very welcome to come up and do “Don’t Stop,” or whatever she wants to do. We’ll have to wait and see if she’s comfortable. I think it would be wonderful.
When the five of you had dinner in LA recently, how long had it been since you had all been together?
The last couple of times we were on tour and we played in London, she came to the shows, but it was very, very fleeting. Probably [not] since she left the band had we actually sat down for several hours and been able to just kind of interact in a more leisurely way.
What comes next for you after the tour is over later this year?
If it were up to me, what I would do is go into the studio with Fleetwood Mac and actually finish an album and put out a whole album. Maybe look at stringing not a whole year, but a big chunk of time behind that [to tour] and do something that we have not done in years and years, which is string a few experiences together without these long breaks.
My guess is even if we didn’t do that, there are more places in the States that we have not played yet that we’d probably want to get to after the first of the year after we come back from Australia.
Lindsey Buckingham says the group has five more unreleased tracks. “The whole thing is just kind of wide open now, and it really is tantalizing to be able to put together just a few things, three or four songs on an EP”
Lindsey Buckingham says there’s more where Fleetwood Mac’s new Extended Play came from.
Buckingham tells Billboard that he, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie “cut eight songs” with producer Mitchell Froom last year after Fleetwood Mac decided it would be touring this year. Three of those — “Sad Angel,” “It Takes Time” and “Miss Fantasy” — are part of the Extended Play digital release that came out May 6, joined by “Without You,” resurrected by Stevie Nicks from the Buckingham Nicks days before they joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975.
Buckingham says “it may be too early to tell where things are going to go” with the remaining songs, but he adds that “it’s safe to say there is more than these four songs that you’re going to hear from Fleetwood Mac — it’s just a question of how and when, y’know?”
The “when,” of course, is complicated by Fleetwood Mac’s current tour, which crosses North America through July 6 and then heads to Europe in September. But Buckingham acknowledges that Extended Play has certainly given the veteran group a fresh perspective on releasing new music rather than the drama and trauma of making an entire album, as it’s done in the past.
“When I was growing up, EPs were all over the place,” Buckingham notes. “When I was growing up, albums were not really an art form; the single was the thing, and in some ways it has gotten back to that a little bit. The whole thing is just kind of wide open now, and it really is tantalizing to be able to put together just a few things, three or four songs on an EP. There is something quite effective about that, for sure. I have no preconceptions one way or the other in terms of what Fleetwood Mac will do or even what Fleetwood Mac should do. You just do what you can do and what makes sense logically — and politically.”
Fleetwood Mac has been playing “Sad Angel” and “Without You” regularly in its shows, and has dug into its catalog for “Sisters of the Moon” — part of a four-song blast from 1979’s Tusk that Buckingham says he’s happy to have in the set.
“After all this time it’s very sweet we’re able to sort of tap into that, just on more of an overview level,” Buckingham reports. “I think we’re playing better, or as well, as we’ve ever played. It’s kind of a lovefest between Stevie and me out there, which is great. And this time there seems to be an enhanced appreciation of the body of work. There seem to be a lot of young people at the shows — not that there haven’t been before, but there seem to be more this time. So I’m having a great time out there. We’re just killing it out there as far as I’m concerned.”
Fans, meanwhile, are hoping that the tour — which coincides with the 45th anniversary of the release of the very first Fleetwood Mac album — will catch up to one of the group’s most celebrated alumni later this year. Mick Fleetwood rather publicly reached out to Christine McVie, who quit the band in 1998, which resulted in her visiting him in Maui as well as a Mac reunion dinner in Los Angeles. Buckingham calls the gesture “just reaching out to her as a longtime friend” and definitively says that “Christine is never going to rejoin the band.”
Being together again, however, was a hoot.
“That was great fun. It was very interesting to see what that extra piece of the puzzle does to the overall equation,” Buckingham recalls. “It was a trip, because she was the same old person I’d always known, and she was cracking me up. We’d always had just a great chemistry, the two of us, and we just kind of hit the ground running as soon as I saw her, which was kind of amazing. If she wants to come up and do ‘Don’t Stop’ with us when we’re in England, I’d love to see that. But beyond that I think there’s not too much you can make out of it — although I’m sure people will try.”
By Keith Caulfield / Billboard
Friday, May 10, 2013
Fleetwood Mac, Extended Play (EP) (No. 48): After a 10 year wait, Fleetwood Mac has returned to the Billboard 200 chart with a new studio album. The legendary band’s Extended Play (EP) bows at No. 48, selling 9,000 copies in its first week.
The self-released set, issued on the LMJS imprint (an acronym for the first names of the four members of the band), is exclusive to iTunes. The four-song effort is the group’s first release outside of the Warner Music family of labels since 1971.
The band’s last full-length album, Say You Will, released on Reprise/Warner Bros., arrived on the chart almost exactly 10 years ago this week. The set debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the chart dated May 3, 2003. To date, it has sold 864,000 copies in the United States.
Fleetwood Mac’s independent release Extended Play (EP) has debuted at number 48 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The release of the EP has also generated renewed interest in Fleetwood Mac’s back catalog with Greatest Hits (1988) ranking at number 172, and Rumours (1977) and The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac (2002) reentering the chart at number 149 and number 194, respectively.
Over on the Independent Albums chart, Extended Play makes an impressive debut in the Top 10 at number 9. On Digital Albums, the EP comes in at number 14. The EP debuts at number 13 on Rock Albums and on the iTunes chart, it has peaked at number 5.
Despite little fanfare and promotion, the first week numbers of the EP, quietly released on April 30, appear to have exceeded sale expectations, showing that there is still considerable demand for Fleetwood Mac to issue new material. The band has mentioned that it may release a full album in the future.
Last week, Fleetwood Mac released their first new recordings in almost a decade — a four-song digital EP titled Extended Play. The collection features three new tunes written by singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham — “It Takes Time,” “Miss Fantasy” and “Sad Angel” — as well as a Stevie Nicks-penned track called “Without You” that dates back to her and Buckingham’s pre-Fleetwood Mac days, when they performed as a duo.
Nicks recently chatted with ABC News Radio about the new songs, and revealed why the band decided to release just a few songs rather than a full-length album.
“In this day and age, nobody really wants an album anyway, [and] we didn’t have time to do a record anyway, because we were all working all last year,” she explains. “And…when you do a record, especially a Fleetwood Mac record, that means you rent a house and you’re working for almost a year. We didn’t have that year. So, this way, we have new songs.”
Nicks also told ABC News Radio that Buckingham’s new tunes were written in early 2012, and he initially recorded them with just drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie.
“I didn’t go because my mom had just passed away, and I really just couldn’t go into the studio,” she points out. “So they went in basically without me, and that was fine.”
Stevie adds that, although she didn’t participate in the early sessions, Lindsey made an effort to come up with material that was well-suited for her. “Lindsey just tried really hard to see through my eyes,” she notes. “He certainly knows me well enough to do that.”
Nicks finally got the chance to add her voice to the new tracks late last year when she visited Buckingham at his home studio. “He and I picked…two songs out of the several songs that they did that I like very much, otherwise I wouldn’t have wanted to sing on them,” explains Stevie. “We did them, and we finished all the vocals and they came out great.”
Nicks also brought in her old song “Without You,” which she reportedly had rediscovered after coming across an old demo that had been posted on YouTube.
“We can’t figure out for the life of us why it didn’t go on the Buckingham Nicks album,” says Stevie, referring to the 1973 album she and Lindsey recorded as a duo. “But it didn’t and it’s just this amazing song…So we rerecorded it and it came out great.”
Extended Play is available now at iTunes for $3.96. Fleetwood Mac has regularly been playing two songs from the EP, “Sad Angel” and “Without You” during their current North American tour, which is mapped out through a July 6 show in Sacramento, California. The band also has a European trek planned for the fall.
It’s been exactly a decade since Fleetwood Mac released a full album, but that hasn’t stopped a new generation of fans from discovering the band. “We’re doing the best business we’ve done in 20 years,” guitarist Lindsey Buckingham tells Rolling Stone a few hours before the Tulsa, Oklahoma stop on the band’s latest tour. “There seems to be a cyclical re-igniting of interests, and there’s certainly a lot more young people out there than three years ago.”
Months before they started tour rehearsal, the band cut a four-song EP titled Extended Play with producer Mitchell Froom. “When we finally decided this was going to be the year we were going to tour again, I thought it would be great to cut some new stuff,” says Buckingham. “I knew we wouldn’t have time to cut a new album. Stevie [Nicks] was still caught up in her solo thing, but I got John [McVie] and Mick [Fleetwood] over from Hawaii. They played their asses off. It was a great experience.”
Stevie Nicks arrived at the sessions towards the end, and Buckingham presented her with “Sad Angel.” “I wrote that song for Stevie,” he says. “She always had to fight for everything. She was coming off a solo album and was in the process of reintegrating herself mentally in the band, and we’re all warriors with a sword in one sort or another. She and I have known each other since high school. So I just wrote, ‘Sad Angel have you come to fight the war/We fall to earth together, the crowd calling out for more.’”
Like many of the group’s greatest songs, “Sad Angel” reflects on Lindsey and Stevie’s complex relationship. “All these years later, we are still writing songs that are dialogues for each other,” he says. “That was part of the appeal of Rumours, and of the group in general . . . Of all the things we cut, ‘Sad Angel’ was, for lack of a better term, the most Fleetwood Mac-y. It was really kind of the best stuff that we have done in a while.”
They also recorded “Without You,” a song that’s roughly 40 years old. “Stevie and I had a little disagreement over when it was written,” Buckingham says. “It definitely predates our involvement in Fleetwood Mac. I believe it was written when we were in the process of culling material for a possible second Buckingham-Nicks album, before we were dropped by Polydor. She claims it was written earlier, but I’m not so sure. But it’s a very sweet song that really harkens back to a time when we were far more innocent. She’s writing to me and it’s about our relationship, when we’d only been together for a very short time.”
Stevie Nicks says that she rediscovered the song on YouTube. “I’m not really sure how it resurfaced,” says Buckingham. “She brought it in one day and she brought it by my house. John and Mick didn’t really work on that. There’s kind of an appropriateness in doing something that predates Fleetwood Mac, because at this stage in time Stevie and I have more of a connection than we’ve had for a while. That’s a nice thing.”
“Sad Angel” and “Without You” are performed every night on Fleetwood Mac’s ongoing world tour, but the vast majority of the set is devoted to songs from the group’s deep catalog. “Creating a set list is like making a running order for an album,” says Buckingham. “Certain things get pitted against one another that make more sense. One song sets another one off, or it might diminish it. You’re just constantly looking for the next thing that’s gonna make sense in a particular place.”
The show begins with “Second Hand News,” the kick-off track to band’s 1976 landmark album Rumours. “It seemed like the obvious choice as the opener,” says Buckingam. “There are certain touchstones that you always do. When you’ve been around for a while, you realize there’s a body of work you’re going to rely on every time. You’re not going to reinvent the wheel every time you go out, because that would disappoint the audience.”
After “Second Hand News,” the group keeps the Rumours theme going with “The Chain” and “Dreams.” “You get that out of the way,” says Buckingham. “Then we do ‘Sad Angel’ and then we’re segueing into various twists and turns from there.”
A frenetic “Rhiannon” segues into four straight Tusk songs: “Not That Funny,” “Tusk,” “Sisters of the Moon” and “Tusk.” “After the success of Rumours, we were in this zone with this certain scale of success,” Buckingham says. “By that point the success detaches from the music, and the success becomes about the success. The phenomenon becomes about the phenomenon. Warner Bros. would have very much liked to have seen a Rumours II. There was a need on my part — and the band as well, but I was certainly the instigator — to kind of subvert that notion.”
Tusk was a huge bestseller, but the songs were less commercial, failing to live up to the enormous sales of Rumours. “We didn’t want to be painted into a corner,” Buckingham says. “If you want to be an artist in the long run, it isn’t necessarily a good axiom to repeat formulas over and over until they’re used up.”
The rest of the show focuses on enormous hits like “Gypsy,” “Go Your Own Way” and “Gold Dust Woman,” but “Don’t Stop” is the sole number written by former Mac keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie. “On the last tour we did ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Say You Love Me,’” says Buckingham. “But it’s hard to sustain her presence. There’s no real reason to do it. She had some great songs, but it becomes a little schizoid to go out there and try to recreate her thing.”
Christine McVie did participate in Fleetwood Mac’s 1997 comeback album The Dance, but she left after the tour. “She was just in need of a radical life change,” says Buckingham. “She pretty much burned all her bridges in Los Angeles. She sold her house, ended her relationship, quit the band and moved back to England. It was a fairly sweeping set of changes, and something she needed to do for her reasons, though I’m not particularly clear on what those were.”
The group took a break after McVie quit, but regrouped in 2002 to begin work on Say You Will. “We all miss her, and we miss the equation that fivesome made,” Buckingham says. “It’s a different equation with the four. But for me, it actually opened up an opportunity to be a little more myself onstage. When you divide the material more or less down the middle, it gives me more of a chance to be the guy, and to be the kind of presence and energy I am onstage.”
The adjustment has been more difficult for Stevie Nicks. “She misses the female camaraderie,” says Buckingham. “So it’s been a double-edged sword for her. But as the band evolved as a four-piece, it became less relevant to put songs of hers in there. We haven’t felt a need to do that, even though she had some hits. It’s just . . . it is what it is. The band is a different band now. On the other hand, ‘Don’t Stop’ is just one of those anthems with a strong message. That’s why Bill Clinton latched onto it. It’s a very effective encore song for us.”
The show wraps with “Say Goodbye,” the only song of the night drawn from the group’s 2003 LP Say You Will. “As I said, Stevie and I have probably more of a connection now than we have in years,” says Buckingham. “You can feel it. It’s tangible on stage. In many ways, that song is the embodiment of that. When you look at ‘Without You,’ it’s Stevie writing a song about me when everything was before us and all those illusions were intact. ‘Say Goodbye’ was written 10 years ago, when most of our experience together was behind us. Part of those illusions had fallen away.”
Much of their story may be behind them, but Lindsey and Stevie are still taking the stage together night after night and collaborating on new material. “It was difficult for years to get complete closure,” Buckingham says. “There was never any time to not be together. It was kind of like picking the scab off an open wound again and again. That’s part of the legacy of the band. But ‘Say Goodbye’ is a very sweet song, and it’s about her: ‘Once you said goodbye to me/Now I say goodbye to you.’ It took a long time. All those illusions have fallen away, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t resolve and hope and belief in the future in a different context. That’s really what the song is about, and we end the set with just the two of us singing that song.”