The 'Rumours' Mill
Still a perfect fit, Fleetwood and old band mates crank out material anew
By Mark Brown
October 10, 2003
Rocky Mountain News
The nadir for Lindsey Buckingham's tolerance of Fleetwood Mac's music came in late 1992. He'd quit the band five years before but had just gone through grueling sessions of remastering and remixing a four-CD Fleetwood Mac boxed set.
In an interview before his first solo show, he said he just didn't care about that music anymore; he was disinterested in Fleetwood Mac, the boxed set, the songs, the history.
"It was nice to see Mick (Fleetwood) and nice to see Stevie (Nicks) a little bit," Buckingham said at the time. "All of the chemistry is still there. (But) it's nice to have a little closure."
"Those were Lindsey's choices. I've never understood," Mick Fleetwood says today. "(He was) overdistancing himself from something he was so involved in and had so much input in. I always found it confusing and sometimes a little sad that he had to feel that 'The only way I can get away from this machine called Fleetwood Mac was to literally
almost feel like I'd never been there.' All of that has changed so much."
Indeed, within days of the interview, Buckingham took the stage at a secret small-club gig and played those songs on his own for the first time.
"As long as you don't call out Go Your Own Way too soon, we'll get along great," he told the crowd.
He opened with Fleetwood Mac's hit Big Love, turned into a slow, acoustic-guitar primal scream. With a band, he ripped through I'm So Afraid, and eventually all his big hits showed up - including, yes, Go Your Own Way, from Rumours.
The boxed set may have been the nadir of his interest, but the seeds that would bring Buckingham back into the fold had been sown. It took a long time, but Fleetwood Mac is back, including a show at the Pepsi Center on Saturday night.
Fleetwood recalls the hints of his band mate's change of heart.
"I remember leaving the studio one day and almost at the same time we literally both turned around and said, 'This is sort of crazy, we should do something together.' But for whatever reason, we never really did."
Fleetwood kept in touch with Buckingham after the boxed-set sessions and was eventually invited to play on songs for Buckingham's solo album. Soon bassist John McVie was contributing to the sessions. Eventually, keyboardist-singer Christine McVie was in the studio as well.
It culminated in Fleetwood Mac's 1997 reunion tour, with Stevie Nicks also back in the fold. With a mega-tour and the best-selling live album The Dance, the classic '70s lineup was triumphantly back in place.
"I remember . . . we were playing together as a band for the first time in a long time, rehearsing to go on the road," Fleetwood says. The band hit its groove, Buckingham turned around "and he's going, 'What the hell was I thinking?' I said, 'Well, we're only a phone call away.' "
After the band got off the road, Buckingham returned to his long-stalled fourth solo album and realized where it had to go. "This looks like something exciting we can do - let's do it with Fleetwood Mac," he told Fleetwood.
"Lindsey just turned around and said, . . . 'How do you feel about re-cutting the whole load of songs?' " Fleetwood says. "That's how the whole thing started; that's why we're here." The new album, Say You Will, was born.
Of course, the band's history has always been a soap opera, and this was no exception. Now that Buckingham had returned after bolting a decade earlier, Christine McVie decided the road was no longer for her. She bowed out even though she's still heard on some of the tracks on Say You Will.
The obvious question is whether it was hard to go into the studio without McVie. But from the very beginning, Fleetwood Mac's lineup was ever-changing. Peter Green, Bob Welch, Billy Burnette, Bekka Bramlett, Jeremy Spencer and more have come and gone over the years.
"It wasn't (difficult) once we understood that Chris was not making the journey with us," Fleetwood says. "We knew before going into the album what we were doing and were excited. . . . We were all in one way or another pretty committed to this happening. It really became not a challenge, but it became 'Wow, this is really something different.' "
Some of Buckingham's painstaking guitar layering was transferred over, but many songs were ripped up and redone from square one.
"Some of it made its way into the piece of work that is Say You Will. It's a long, strange story," Fleetwood says. "In many ways, it made the process much quicker. Lindsey's material was pretty much done. We were just concentrating, in Stevie's absence when she was on the road, on going ahead and putting the final touches."
When Nicks returned to the studio after her successful Trouble in Shangri-la album and tour, she was so impressed by the work that she took a month and wrote another batch of songs on top of what she'd already contributed.
"It was her way of saying this is very real . . . and I need to be part of this," Fleetwood says.
The end result is an album that sounds like classic Fleetwood Mac in parts (Say You Will, What's the World Coming To?) and like the more experimental Tusk album in others (Murrow Turning Over in His Grave, Come).
"The reality is that this is a band that one way or another has been playing with each other on the road and in the studio for nearly 30 years," Fleetwood says. "It's not always abilities in the academic, technical sense of the word. It's style. That's what shows. If you're blessed with it, you don't really want to analyze it too much.
"(Any music that) makes it into the Fleetwood Mac arena will become Fleetwood Mac."
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