Fleetwood Mac Caravan Coming
The Daily Oklahoman
June 27, 2003
By Gene Triplett
They're a dysfunctional band of gypsies that just can't help making beautiful music together.
While they may have lost a queen, they've regained a king and their old studio alchemy. When their caravan rolls into town to set up its one-night camp at the Ford Center on Tuesday, the gypsy king will strum silvery lines while the band's high priestess twirls hypnotically through the multi-colored lights. And the beguiled citizenry will gladly give up its money to watch and listen, just the way the nomadic Romany people of old used to work the crowds from town to town. Such is life in the travelling rock soap opera known as Fleetwood Mac.
"You have to realize that everyone, to a man and a woman, have literally been in love with one another," drummer Mick Fleetwood said this week in a phone interview from Chicago. "And that never really goes away. In fact, it doesn't go away. It doesn't mean to say that there are problems with pushing buttons here and there, but the way it's handled now is just different."
He was talking, of course, about the well- known sexual, emotional and creative tensions that made Fleetwood Mac favoured fodder for the gossipy rock fanzines of the '70s and '80s. The one-time British blues band founded in 1967 by Fleetwood and bassist John McVie had undergone many personnel and stylistic changes by 1975, the year they hired an obscure songwriting soft-rock duo -- Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. The band already had one strong songwriter in vocalist/ keyboardist Christine McVie, wife of John. That's when the chemistry kicked in. This tunesmithing triumvirate turned a longtime rock group of middling success into a hit machine with a self-titled album that hit No. 1 in 1976 and yielded three hit singles -- one penned by Nicks ("Rhiannon") and two by McVie ("Over My Head," "Say You Love Me"). The former blooz band was now a pop phenom, but internal strife threatened to make it shortlived when the McVies divorced in the midst of it all, and the Buckingham-Nicks romance derailed shortly thereafter. But did that break up the band? Not a bit of it. Instead, the tunesmiths tapped into their own personal turmoil to produce a second classic album called "Rumours" in 1977, that contained such smashes as "Go Your Own Way" (Buckingham), "Dreams" (Nicks), "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun" (both by Christine McVie). The collection became the second biggest selling album of all time. To make a long story short, the band continued to be wildly successful for another 10 years, surviving various substance addictions and creative and personal differences, until Buckingham decided to take his own song's advice and go his own way. The door started revolving again, with guitarists and singers coming and going and album sales slipping back into the dumps. The solo careers of Nicks, Buckingham and McVie were going that way as well. Then came the quartet's well-reviewed 1997 in-concert reunion album, "The Dance," which reheated the creative chemistry and enthusiasm among the fivesome. Buckingham, who had already reunited with Fleetwood and John McVie in the studio for an intended solo project, started thinking of turning it all into a new band effort. Nicks liked the idea and kicked in 17 of her own demos, and Buckingham started molding arrangements around them. The number of songs was eventually culled to 18 -- nine each from the two singer-songwriters. The end result is "Say You Will," the band's first studio album with Buckingham since 1987's "Tango in the Night." The old magic is back, with Buckingham's distinctive hollow-body electric guitar weaving through the familiar Buckingham-Nicks harmonies on the Top 10 adult-contemporary hit, "Peacekeeper," and the title track, which features Nicks' husky voice beautifully bemoaning romance ended. But there's one voice conspicuously missing from the mix. Christine McVie did not heed the siren call this time out.
"It's missing but it's not missed," Fleetwood said of McVie's absent voice. "Basically we do two of Christine's songs in the set -- 'Don't Stop' and 'World Turning'. The reality is we touched on some things in rehearsals and we may, at some point, on the next couple of legs of what is now gonna be a very long world tour, seemingly, we may revisit some stuff here and there.
"But, in truth, what became really apparent to us is we're blessed that we have so many things to choose from with Stevie and Lindsey. ... And because there is so much stuff, meaning songs, we felt confident really we didn't have to sort of go into Chris's world too much. ... We just started getting into things that were relevant to the four people on the stage.
"I think that's where we've ended up with a show where we're representing going forward. Christine, in terms of who she has been and who she'll always be within people's memory of what Fleetwood Mac is, is a written, etched-in- stone legacy that she has, that is protected anyhow, and I think people acknowledge the fact that we're out with a new album, we are making a new move in terms of, it's a different band. It's a somewhat different band. There's no doubt.
"It tends to be a little bit more aggressive because we're rockin' out a little bit more."
Christine McVie, who turns 60 in July, had apparently gotten the gypsy out of her system. She had also tired of years of living in Los Angeles and has moved back to England, where she is working on a solo project.
"She made her decision pretty much after 'The Dance' and then vacillated a little bit and joked around and we all love her and, you know, there was a point where we basically just had to sever that sort of reaching out. Because we started working (on the album) and there were phone calls in the middle of the night, and 'How you doing, what're you doing?' Basically, you know, once it was put to her, and then she ran for cover again, we just didn't go there again.
"She has a great talent, but she has no interest in doing what we're doing now. She never really enjoyed it anyhow, and she'd just had enough of it and went home."
Meanwhile, the rest of the band is steadfast in its resolve to stay together and play together indefinitely, even though some of the old tensions still exist.
"I think it still fuels us to tell you the truth," Fleetwood said. "Obviously in different ways. Touring, Lindsey and I turned around on the plane -- actually last night -- and it was like unbelievable. I had one of my eldest daughters who's 30 years old, I had two new twin daughters, he has two gorgeous kids, a boy and a girl, a little older than my youngsters who are about a year and 15 weeks, and then the members of the band entourage. For whatever reason John had his daughter out, his wife.
"And we're going, like, this is truly a different scene out here. It was like a massive, traveling, sort of gypsy family thing going on.
"We acknowledge what it is that we have. I think all of those vague ingredients that were very fired up for so many years are really tempered by the fact that we've moved on, but I think it's all still there."
Fleetwood began to start and stop his sentences as he grasped for a handle on his band's inter-relationships.
"There's still a pretty fascinating -- it's not dull. You know, Stevie and Lindsey still -- it's just the way it's handled, is different. And you have to understand that all of us, no matter what has happened, there's always been an unwritten part of this.
"And we acknowledge we have the chemistry that is the huge pay-off for all of us. Is that all of us have done different things, but nothing amounts to what it is when these people walk on the stage with one another. And we don't know what it is. We don't want or need to know, it just is."
Could it be that gypsy in their blood?
"I think that's where we're at," he said. "It's a happy tour. I think a lot of the creative sort of button-pushing -- which was not ugly, it was just sometimes exhausting -- happened before we got out on the road because this is simple."
In other words, simply wonderful.
Thanks to Les for bringing this to my attention
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