Omaha Rainbow, Issue 22
The "Bombs Away" Interview
John Stewart interviewed by Peter O'Brien
September 21, 1979
Montcalm Hotel, London, England
Speaking about meeting Lindsey and getting him involved in the album -
"You know the story about Lindsey learning to play guitar off the Trio albums and me learning to play electric guitar off Lindsey Buckingham albums. So I met Walter Egan at the Union and asked him what it was like working with Lindsey, and he said, 'you gotta meet him because . . .' blah, blah, blah. So then I went over and met Lindsey when he was mixing 'Hot Summer Nights' and said, 'Lindsey, I'd really like you to produce this album.' He said, 'I'd like to but I'm doing Fleetwood Mac.' He came out to the house a few times and we worked on tunes and he said, 'I really want to do this.'"
Speaking about working with Lindsey on the album -
"On my birthday last year he (Lindsey Buckingham) and Joey Carbone and Russ Kunkel came down and played for free on 'Midnight Wind' . . . It was the best birthday I ever had, yeah, it was great. Got drunk out of our brains. Then I started doing the rest of them - 'Somewhere Down the Line" and Lindsey came in and did that live; 'Spinnin' of the World' live; and then just overdubbed the crap out of that. . . . Lindsey would come in for 14 hours at a time and then I wouldn't see him again for a month. . . . As far as Lindsey went, it was just the way he would point the way to things, show me the direction in which to go, make me a mix that was just mindblowing, and play some guitars or do some vocals."
Speaking about Lindsey's willingness to help during John's desperate times -
"Oh the pressure that Al Coury (RSO record company president) was putting me under at that time was really inhuman. I mean, to make anyone go through that and to have the likes of Lindsey Buckingham in the studio, and not say, 'Hey, go ahead, this is going to be great,' and to bring in songs like 'Gold' and 'Midnight Wind' and him saying they're not hits when you know goddam well they are - or at least as close to a hit as I'm gonna come - and to have no support or encouragement from the record company, I was absolutely against the wall. It got worse . . . . At one point as I went in, I called up Lindsey. I was so off the wall I could hardly talk to him. I said, 'Lindsey, please, you've got to come in and play.' I just sounded like a madman. I was."
Chris Whelan, bassist for John Stewart, speaking about the financial difficulties John encountered while making "Bombs Away Dream Babies," and how Lindsey helped -
"It got to the point right before 'Bombs Away' was finished, he was way over budget, he had no more money, and the album was not finished...like, on 'Living in the Heart of a Dream,' there was still a lot of things he wanted to do with that tune, but there was no more money....he actually had let the band go right before 'Bombs Away' was finished. Lindsey put in about 20 grand of his own money to finish the album."
Speaking about working with Stevie on "Gold" -
"Mary Torrey is a friend of Stevie Nicks and when Stevie came down to do 'Midnight Wind,' we were going to mix 'Midnight Wind' and I really wanted her to sing on 'Gold.' Because when she did 'Midnight Wind,' she heard 'Gold' and said, 'Oh, I really want to sing on that.' And I didn't have the money at that time to put her on. I said, 'I can't do it without seeing that amount of money.' We'd all had a few drinks at that point and what you say at four in the morning half in the bag is not what you might say in the cold light of a sober day.
So when she came down to do 'Midnight Wind' I had 'Gold' out prepared - I had it up ready to go and pretended I was mixing it or whatever. I could tell when she walked in by the look on her face that she was not gonna sing that night. She just had that 'I ain't singing' look on her face. So I said, 'Stevie, I'm gonna go out do the tag on this song - let's you and Mary and I go out and sing the end.' Well, Mary began to cry and I went, 'Oh, my God, what did I say?' Stevie said, 'John, this is Mary's dream to sing on a record.' I said, 'We've got to go out and do it.' So we went out and did the tag and Mary was singing and crying.
I had the lyrics to 'Gold' written out on enormous cue cards because Stevie really can't see too well. Mary went back in the booth and I grabbed Stevie and said, 'Stevie, come on, let's just do the verses on this song. It's not gonna take long.' I said, 'Turn the tape on,' so they turned the tape on and held the cue cards out and I put my hand over Stevie's mouth when she wasn't supposed to sing and hit her in the back when she was and she did it in one take and I got her on the song."
Speaking about working with Mary Kay Place and Lindsey on "Over the Hill" -
"She was doing an album at Village and I've always been a big fan of Mary Kay's. I think she's a great singer . . . great attitude. I went down and I said, 'Mary Kay, I'm gonna do this song. Would you come by and sing background?' She said, 'Sure.' She got to the studio that night and was absolutely petrified with fear. Said, 'I've never sung background before.' I said, 'Mary Kay, there's nothing different with singing background. You're just singing lead with another melody.' Lindsey was there and she was absolutely intimidated by Lindsey, because Lindsey's so confident in the studio that you want to hit him. She started screaming at him, 'You're so confident, you're so d**n professional, I can't do this!' So Lindsey and I sat her down, said, 'Mary Kay, don't be ridiculous. Come on.' Gave her a couple of drinks and she got it great."
Speaking about his inspiration for the song "Comin' Out of Nowhere" -
"It was the only time I ever wrote a song about another song. That song is written about a song of Lindsey's on the 'Tusk' album called, 'That's Enough For Me.' When I heard it, it was absolutely devastating, and I wanted to write a song letting people know there was something coming that would knock their ears off their heads."
Speaking about having to lie to his record company to be able to keep his own material on the album -
"You want to know about that song? 'Hard Time Town' was a song that Buffy wrote and I doctored it up a bit to make it more commercial. Went in and told Al Coury that Lindsey wrote it and that if we didn't do it, he'd give it to Walter Egan, and that this was the hit we were looking for. That's how desperate I got."
Speaking about having heard the album "Tusk" which was about to be released and the single "Tusk" which had been released to radio -
"I don't think they need any plugs, but I'll just say it's a terrific album and not at all like 'Rumours.' 'Tusk' is great. It's really a good laxative for the radio constipation of the world. It's really back to what rock'n'roll started as . . . fun. Where music should be. It is not like anything else on the album. The album sounds nothing like 'Tusk,' and that's the reason they put it out - just let people have no idea what the album is like. They took a real chance with the album and I'm gonna have to hand it to them, they were very courageous. It would have been very easy to go in and do another 'Rumours' with the same format and have guaranteed sales.
They're the hardest working people I've met in my life and Stevie Nicks is one of our finest songwriters who is never given any credit for the amount of incredible songs she's written. I think she puts most of the singer/songwriters in the toilet. She's got a song called 'Angel' which is the best one she's ever written. She's got a song called 'Sisters of the Moon' which is a killer - absolute killer. Lindsey has some really bizarre good songs and Christine came through with some good things. A much different album. I can't even tell you what it's like, but it's nothing like 'Rumours' and it's definitely Fleetwood Mac."
Omaha Rainbow, Issue 22
Capitol Radio Interview
John Stewart interviewed by Roger Scott
September 21, 1979
Speaking about the pressure from his record company to make a top-ten album and meeting Lindsey Buckingham -
"Al (Coury) called me and said, 'John, let me lay it to you straight. If you don't get a top ten record you're off the label. I said, 'Oh, okay.' He said, 'I know it's tough but I do it every day.' I'll never forget that. 'I know it's hard but I do it every day.' He said, 'You've got to tell me what you're gonna do. You've got to bring me demos in.' I said, 'Al, I've got three songs and . . . at this point, to really make a long story short, I'd met Lindsey Buckingham.
I said, 'There's no-one in the world I want to produce my album except Lindsey Buckingham. He's the only one who has any idea of how to make records that I really like. I think he's got the secret.' I'd learned to play electric guitar listening to Lindsey Buckingham records and found out that Lindsey learnt to play electric guitar listening to Kingston Trio records, so we'd been talking to each other for eight years before we even met.
I said, 'Lindsey, you've got to produce this album. He said, 'Okay, I'd like to do it, but Fleetwood Mac is recording now and it's gonna be tough, but I'll go in and do some songs with you.' We went in and did 'Gold,' 'Midnight Wind' and 'Runaway Fool of Love.' I brought them in to Al and he said, 'Nope, not hits.' At this point Lindsey and I were pounding our heads against the wall saying, 'What does he want?' Went in and did three more songs - not right. I said, 'Oh, Al, please.' He said, 'Alright, go in and finish the album.'
Well, at this point, Lindsey said, 'I can't continue. I'm just so into the Fleetwood Mac album that I've got to do that, but I'll come in and play guitar whenever I can.' So I was left alone with the control board for the first time in my life. I'd no idea what to do absolutely no clue on what it was all about - I just started learning. I started fooling with it. Lindsey would come in and make these mindboggling mixes and I'd say, 'Lindsey, you've got to tell me what you're doing with those knobs,' because it's so involved with EQ, with peaking and shelving, low end and DDLs and all that. 'Lindsey, sometime teach me what you're doing.' He said, 'I'm turning the knobs till it sounds good,' and that really got me through the album. I went, 'Right!' So I just started turning the knobs until it sounded good. I had one engineer walk out on the album. Said, 'I can't take any more.' . . . ."
"Then Stevie came in and I said, 'Stevie, this song is really your kind of song,' so she heard the track and said, 'Yeah, I'd like to sing on that.' She came in and we spent twelve hours one night doing 'Midnight Wind.' She said, 'John, this is a classic. It's the best record I've sung on since 'Rhiannon'.' That's when I started going, 'Oh yeah? Maybe I've got something there.' She said, 'John' - she's got a great wisdom, she's got a great clarity - she said, 'John, let's make hits. We've all made the other kind of record. Let's make hits. They're more fun to make.' I said, 'Right, let's make some hits!' She came in a couple of times and we did 'Gold'."
Speaking about the inspiration to the line -"people out there turning music into gold" - from the single "Gold" -
" . . . going to Lindsey's mansion in Hollywood! I said, 'Lindsey, what does it feel like living in a place like this?' He said, 'Well, when I first moved in, I waited for my parents to show up and to take care of it.' It's just a song away. I've always maintained it's just a song away. Lindsey was starving before Fleetwood Mac. Just four years earlier he and Stevie were living in a one room apartment, so I said, 'My God, there's people out there turning music into gold,' and I just started playing that riff and built the song on that."
Omaha Rainbow, Issue 20
Obsessions with John Stewart
Interview with Tom De Lisle (John Stewart's friend and associate)
by Peter O'Brien
Speaking about the first time John met Stevie -
"Well, Stevie had been raised on The Kingston Trio. In fact, she told John, 'If you knew how many hundreds of hours Lindsey made me sit and listen to your albums!'"
Speaking about Lindsey's involvement with "Bombs Away Dream Babies" and recording next door to Fleetwood Mac -
"Yes, without knowing it, John and Lindsey had been mutually admiring each other's work, although they had never met. I found that Lindsey was, like many of us, an absolute Kingston Trio freak and a tremendous Stewart fan. He can tell you what guitar John played on a given song. Much of the Fleetwood Mac sound is based on the Trio. They heavy rhythm guitar up front with the lead guitar being played through the melody like a banjo. In fact, Lindsey plays lead guitar the same way you play a banjo, and he based it on John's Trio playing. And I remember back in 1976, John was listening to Mac's huge album and telling me he could hear banjo licks being played on a guitar all through the album. He'd say, 'Listen to that, it's like the Trio.". . . .
"Oh yeah. In a sense, he (Lindsey) kind of co-produced it with John. He plays guitar on a lot of the songs and you'll hear him singing quite a bit. Oh, I must point out that for a while Fleetwood Mac was recording next door to where John was. And one night, we went in to hear part of their new album. They put up a song of Lindsey's called 'Down the Road' or something like that. Anyway, it was absolutely devastating. The first song of the '80s. It was like nothing John or I had ever heard. Just an ass-kicker. I felt like I did the first time I heard 'Satisfaction' in '65. Just a tremendous song, something you have to hear."
(note: John Stewart's version of the same story reveals the song Tom misremembers here is actually Lindsey's "That's Enough For Me" off the 'Tusk' album).
Thanks to Sandy for sending this article in