A couple weeks ago, Jared messaged me and asked if I would be interested in doing a collaborative Music Monday on the Fleetwood Mac album Rumours. Never have a responded to a slack message so quickly.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’re well aware of my love for this album. For my money, it’s the greatest classic rock album ever produced and is essentially a greatest hits album without the greatest hits moniker.
The plot lines, the lyrics and the production are all impeccable and come together to produce this mammoth, whirlwind of an album that doesn’t let up from start to finish. Couple that with the fact that Christine and John McVie and Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham fuc*ing hated one another throughout the development of the album and it’s just the peak of perfection. The background of the album is somehow maybe even better than the incredible music that is produced.
What we’ve decided to do, with the addition of Patrick, is round table style article with stories from and about the album and our experiences with it.
Do you remember when you “discovered” Rumours, or was it always kind of there?
Jared: I was the youngest in my family by a few years, so I had the habit of going through my relatives magazines to read while the adults and older cousins did their own thing. When I was 12 or 13, I became obsessed with an Entertainment Weekly issue on the top 25 best-selling albums of all-time I found laying around at my grandma’s house, which I took home to re-read several more times. One of the things that struck me was that Rumours was so high on the list, yet I had never heard of the band or the album. I remedied this by making it part of my monthly BMG order along with my usual grunge selections that would irritate my parents (“Alice in Chains?!? That sounds vulgar...do you want to become a drug addict??”).
Clay: I couldn’t really tell you the first time I listened to the album in full. It was probably sometime in high school, and every time since has been to the deluxe edition, which I’ll explain later. The sound of Fleetwood Mac has always been around me, whether it was my mom listen “Go Your Own Way” or “Don’t Stop” on the local radio station (shoutout 97.3 WRVV) or my dad playing through the album and me recognizing the iconic baseline on “The Chain” or the classic “thunder only happens when it’s raining” refrain on “Dreams.” Eventually I was old enough to notice all these songs I loved were on the same album and as I threw myself into the music world at-large, the mystique of the band and the album drew me in further.
Patrick: Similar to Clay, I didn’t listen to the album in full until my later years (some point in college for me), but had heard a bunch of the songs on the radio growing up. So I suppose in some sense, it was always just kind of there, but it reached new meaning to me when I listened to the album all the way through. There’s one thing to liking and enjoying a song, but it becomes more complete when you hear it within the entire album.
What are your early memories of the album?
Jared: Picking up where I left off with the first answer, Rumours was waiting for my one day when I came home after school. I popped it in to see what I was missing, and it turns out I already knew about half of the album by heart. In fact, I remembered singing “Don’t Stop” to myself all the time as a kid and “Go Your Own Way” had been one of my favorite songs at one point. I just somehow was not aware they were by Fleetwood Mac, or that they came from a single legendary album. I also really liked the songs that were completely new to me, and still have it on a very regular rotation of albums I listen to daily while walking the dog or working around my house.
Clay: As I mentioned above, my first real memories were hearing it in car rides with my mom or die. It’s to the point where I can place exact memories which is sort of creepy, like sitting in my grandma’s driveway in Harrisburg singing along to “Dreams” or being captivated by the the lyrics of “Gold Dust Woman” on a long drive to visit cousins in Allentown.
Patrick: Again, similar to Clay, but I can still remember being in my Mom’s like 1997 Toyota Maxima and hearing “The Chain” playing on the radio. But the album itself, man, it just takes me back to college. Relaxing on a lazy night, sitting back with a beverage, and getting lost in the tunes. Pure bliss.
If you had to pick just one song from the album to listen to the rest of your life, which are you going with?
Jared: I’ve been vacillating like a Big Ten president on this decision, but think I have to go with Second Hand News. It’s like one of those movies you revisit after a long time and realize it was even better than you remember. I get that feeling every time I listen to this song, and it always lifts my mood and puts an extra bounce in my step.
Clay: So, remember that point earlier about always listening to the deluxe edition? That’s because the deluxe edition includes Silver Springs, which is the best song (not) on the album.
stevie nicks: ok so this one is called “eat shit and die you fucking fuck” what do y’all think?— christina (@floozyesq) December 27, 2019
lindsey buckingam: ok lets call it silver springs and leave it off the album
Alas, I will play by the (nonexistent) rules and evaluate only the initial release. In that case, my answer to this would probably change week to week but I’ll go with “Gold Dust Woman.” The initial guitar and cowbell is so immediately recognizable and storytelling in the lyrics just takes you breath away. The bass line is grimy in the best possible and just an incredibly sultry, sexy song that gets better with every listen.
Patrick: While the entire album is great, it’s “The Chain” for me and it isn’t all that close. The slow buildup breaking out into “IF YOU DON’T LOVE ME NOW, YOU WILL NEVER LOVE ME AGAIN” is perfection in my mind.
What is the most underappreciated song on the album?
Jared: I had a theory that you could not make it all the way through the radio dial without coming across a Fleetood Mac song, and have been proven right on most occasions. This makes it all the more surprising that “Never Going Back Again” was not a radio-friendly smash. It’s a heartbreaking song about finally coming to the conclusion of the need to exit a toxic relationship, yet it’s so listenable it can be enjoyed at any time, regardless of your mood or if you’re able to currently relate to the lyrics.
Clay: For my money it has to be “Songbird.” It’s easy for Christine McVie to get lost a bit because Stevie Nicks is such a powerhouse, but McVie dials it back here for what’s the most beautiful song on the album and one I didn’t come to appreciate fully until recently.
Patrick: This is a tough question when so many of the songs are properly appreciated, but I’ll go with “Never Going Back Again.” It won’t be mistaken for an all-time classic, but the simplicity of it makes it a good road trip song.
If someone offered you $100,000 to erase Rumours from your memory, Eternal Sunshine-style and block you from ever hearing it again, would you take it?
Jared: That would be a huge “Hell no!” from me, but that’s easy to say without the technology and a six-figure check in front of me.
Clay: In the words of the fantastic Steph Driver of SBNation Hockey:
I. Would. Rather. Die.— Steph Driver (@StephaliciousD) May 4, 2016