I’ve loved Fleetwood Mac as long as I can remember. In fact, I’ve loved Fleetwood Mac since before I even knew who Fleetwood Mac was. I grew up singing along to the likes of ‘Rhiannon’, ‘The Chain’ and ‘Dreams,’ but it wasn’t until I was about 15 and on a road trip to Wisconsin with my parents that I realised all of these songs were by the same band.
All your life you’ve never a seen a woman taken by the wind
Once I made this connection, Fleetwood Mac were regular repeats on my iPod throughout my teen years. However, it wasn’t until my twenties that I started to really listen to the lyrics and experience them on a visceral level. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history behind Fleetwood Mac and the recording of Rumours, I highly recommend giving it a Google search on your next lunch break. In summary, in 1976 on the tail of Fleetwood Mac’s massively successful, self-titled album, every member of the band was in complete romantic turmoil. More importantly, they were in complete romantic turmoil with each other. Christine and John McVie divorced after 8 years of marriage, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were constantly on and off again, and Mick Fleetwood found out that his wife was cheating on him with his best friend. Most people would probably take a breather and a step back, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their record producers wanted them to. However, I’m really glad they didn’t. Instead, they joined together in the studio to record one of the greatest albums of all time: Rumours. Songs that are now household names, such as ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘Songbird’, were recorded while all the members of Fleetwood Mac where whacked out on cocaine and breaking up with each other. Really puts the drama of your 20s into perspective, doesn’t it? Fleetwood Mac took the most painful, raw feelings that all humans experience in one way or another, and they turned them into art.
I’ve been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you
As if this isn’t astonishing enough, their success was not remotely manufactured. The power of their experiences translated into a platinum studio album as well as one of the greatest live albums ever recorded: The Dance (1997). Personally, I am not a fan of live albums. The sound quality generally leaves much to be desired, and there is something incredibly impersonal about listening to a live concert that you didn’t attend. I’d much rather imagine that Stevie Nicks is singing softly in my ear than listen to thousands of fans cheer in the background. However, The Dance is the only live recorded album that I personally think is better than any studio album that a band has recorded. The reason for this is simple: recording live allowed Fleetwood Mac to live all of the emotion and heartbreak that they felt 22 years prior on stage and for all to see. Next time you fret about running into your ex in the grocery store, think about the fact that Stevie Nicks stared down Lindsey Buckingham in front of thousands of people and sang, ‘You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.’
I’m not suggesting that we should all drag our exes on stage during our next karaoke night and expect a platinum record and Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction. However, there is something to be said for taking the heartbreak that we all have to go through and turning it into something that is bigger than us. Even if that something is just the knowledge that whatever feels like the end of the world right now will probably be a laughing matter sooner than we realise. If Stevie Nicks can walk into a studio with her ex and sing her heart out to songs that he wrote, we can each face seeing our ex-boyfriend with his new girlfriend on Instagram. If Christine McVie can get on stage with her ex-husband over 40 years after they divorced, we can each face work after a rather embarrassing Christmas party performance.
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain
The history behind Rumours is the stuff of legends. Countless interviews, articles, and books have marveled at the fact that Fleetwood Mac was able to achieve a timeless hit amidst all of the drugs and infidelity. The story that, in my opinion, isn’t told enough, is the story of the female friendship between Nicks and McVie. Too often in our society, the narrative is spun to pit women against each other. Magazines and newspapers can never get enough of the supposed rivals between Beyonce and Rihanna, Jen and Angelina, and the women of Sex and the City. Because I am inundated with this ‘catfight culture’ on a constant basis, I always assumed Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie have a deep rivalry. After years of doing drugs together and recording music with each other’s exes, surely there was some female bad blood? After listening to Christine McVie’s episode of Desert Island Discs, as well as reading a 2013 article from The Guardian, I realised I couldn’t have been more wrong. Nicks and McVie have unwavering support for one another, and have stood by each other’s side through the most challenging times of heartbreak and addiction. This might be the greatest Fleetwood Mac lesson of all for a woman in her twenties: hang on to your girls, your babes, your female tribe, and you can never go too far wrong. Just maybe don’t do as much cocaine.