My parents have a wide variety of vintage records, and since I was raised around their music, I have grown to enjoy it. They have everything in their record collection from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album to almost every Lynyrd Skynyrd album. But one classic album that I always find myself going back to is Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh studio album, “Rumours.”
Released in 1977, this album was written and recorded when there was a lot of turmoil surrounding the British-American folk-rock band. Drummer Mick Fleetwood discovered that his wife was cheating on him with his best friend. Keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie and bassist John McVie were going through a divorce and only spoke to each other when they were discussing the band’s music. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks were in a hectic on-again-off-again relationship and would only stop arguing when they started working on music together. The band even faced many false and unflattering reports from the media. Despite all that, “Rumours” went on to become a critical and commercial success that garnered the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978.
The album opens with “Second Hand News,” a fast-paced and fun song that showcases Buckingham not only as a guitarist, but a vocalist. This song always seems to make me smile, and isn’t nearly as cryptic as the songs that come up later on the album.
“Dreams” is another upbeat song that features Nicks on vocals, who also wrote the lyrics to this song. I can never get enough of Nicks’ distinctively raspy alto voice, and this song displays the softer and more soothing tones in her voice.
“Never Going Back Again” was also written and performed by Buckingham, and though it’s the shortest song on the album, it’s still distinguishable with its intricate guitar chords and simple lyrics.
“Don’t Stop,” which features Buckingham and Christine McVie on vocals, is another upbeat and hopeful song. It was one of the biggest hits from “Rumours” and is still recognizable today, especially since it was featured on a Fleetwood Mac-themed episode of “Glee” a few seasons ago. Buckingham and McVie’s voices complement each other well, and lyrics carry an optimist message about looking forward to tomorrow.
“Go Your Own Way” is a real departure from the first few songs on the album. The guitar riff is much harsher and rockier than the previous ones, Buckingham sings in an angry and betrayed tone, and with lyrics like “If I could, maybe I’d give you my world / How can I, when you won’t take it from me?”, it’s one of the more pessimistic songs.
However, the next song, “Songbird,” written and performed by Christine McVie, is a much softer, melodic song. Although McVie’s voice isn’t quite as strong or distinctive as Nicks’, she sings the song with so much heartfelt vulnerability, which is only complimented by the beautiful and simple piano. It’s one of those songs that I always find myself singing to.
“The Chain” is the only song on the album to feature all the members of Fleetwood Mac together, and they all seem to pour the emotions of their domestic struggles into this song. It starts off subtle with the banjo riff, soft and steady beats of the drum and bass, and Buckingham, Nicks and McVie singing together. However, it erupts into a hard and cryptic rock song about betrayal and the struggle to stay together. The chorus “I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain” is sung angrily by Buckingham with Nicks and McVie echoing him, and it clearly displays the tension these artists were going through at the time.
“You Make Loving Fun” is a light-hearted song about McVie’s boyfriend after her split from her husband. Though it’s not the best song on the album, it’s still enjoyable, with its bright, poppy sound and lyrics and McVie’s velvety voice.
The next song, “I Don’t Want to Know” has a fun, slightly country feel to it, and since it’s sung by Nicks and Buckingham, I like to think that it expresses the lighter, happier side of their on-off relationship.
“Oh Daddy,” which was written and sung by Christine McVie, is said to be about Fleetwood, who was called “Big Daddy” by the rest of the band. McVie’s voice is sultry and sorrowful as she sings about how Fleetwood helped her get back on her feet after her divorce and kept her going.
The album ends on a mystical note with “Gold Dust Woman,” written and sung by Nicks. The lyrics “Did she make you cry / Make you break down / Shatter your illusion of love?” are haunting and chilling, and Nicks shows her amazing range as she goes from soft to belting with little effort.
They say that nothing great can be achieved within a chaotic environment, but “Rumours” is the exception to the rule. Fleetwood Mac was one of those bands that didn’t have any weak parts – the members worked off each other very harmoniously, even during their darker periods, and created an innovative and amazing record. I have something that I like about every song on this record, which doesn’t happen often. If you ever decide to download any of these songs on iTunes, you will not regret it. “Rumours” is a real gem of a record.