The best Fleetwood Mac songs with Lindsay Buckingham
By Sergio Ariza
Taking advantage of Lindsey Buckingham’s 73rd birthday, from Guitars Exchange we want to talk about our ten favorite songs of his band, Fleetwood Mac. But as that band has had multiple line-ups we have decided to focus on the best known period of it, when Buckingham and Stevie Nicks entered the lineup, as we had already dedicated a special to the top 10 songs of Peter Green, the founder and leader of the first Fleetwood Mac, which basically was already a ‘best songs from his time’, with 9 of the 10 songs being from that band. But as we don't want to mislead anyone, after talking about our 10 favorites from the Buckingham/Nicks period we'll leave you with a list of our 20 favorite songs from the band in their entire history.
10. Tusk (1979)
Composed by Lindsey Buckingham from a percussive riff that Mick Fleetwood used for rehearsals, the song that gave its name to the double album of the same name is one of the most representative of its experimental moments, with verses almost mumbled, instead of sung, by the three main vocalists, Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. The song slowly rises, with a great bass line by John McVie and an almost shouted refrain, until the 112 members of the Trojan Marching Band - the University of Southern California band - enter, with their horns and percussion that finally elevate it.
9. Walk A Thin A Line (1979)
One of the things Lindsey Buckingham did while recording Tusk, an album on which he was also the producer, was to listen to all the tracks he could of the mythical Smile by the Beach Boys, which was still unreleased. It is evident that this influence also filtered into the Tusk sessions, as can be seen in this wonderful Walk A Thin Line in which, with very few elements, he creates incredible harmonies to accompany one of his most 'brianwilsonian' melodies.
8. Don’t Stop (1977)
Within an album marked by the multiple breakups of its protagonists, Don't Stop works as an optimistic balm. It was created by Christine McVie, the only member of the band, apart from Fleetwood and John McVie, who came to play with Peter Green and in the rest of the band's formations. Precisely, the song benefits from the magnificent work of that rhythm section that gave the band its name and the great arrangement by Lindsey Buckingham, who sings the first verse and then unleashes an excellent solo on his white '74 Les Paul Custom. A guitar that had to be bought to make Fleetwood and McVie, longing for their former leader Peter Green, happier and Buckingham had a thickier tone, until then coming from Strats and Telecasters.
7. Gold Dust Woman (1977)
The closing track of Rumours dealt with two of the album's most important themes, the breakup of Nicks with Lindsey Buckingham and cocaine. The song was very important to Stevie Nicks, its author, and she recorded multiple vocal takes until she got one she was happy with. That take apparently came at 4 a.m. and we can't say it wasn't absolutely perfect. For his part, Buckingham added several guitar parts later, it seems that for his recording he used a Gibson EDS-1275 double neck like Jimmy Page's, although what is most characteristic and what gives the song that mysterious and melancholic aura is his use of the dobro.
6. Landslide (1975)
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had been together for a long time before joining Fleetwood Mac; in 1973 they even released an album titled Buckingham Nicks, but its lack of success caused their label to kick them out. Nicks was worried and did not know whether to go ‘back to school’ or continue with Buckingham in his quest for success. It was around this time that she wrote this beautiful song in which she said things like " Well, I've been afraid of changin' 'cause I've built my life around you but time makes you bolder, even children get older and I'm getting older too." It was going to be one of the songs on their second album together but ended up appearing on the first album they recorded with Fleetwood Mac. Even though it is such a personal song, they are the only people who play on it, Nicks with her incredible voice and Buckingham recording several acoustic tracks, possibly one of them with his Ovation Balladeer, if the 1975 tour is anything to go by, the same one in which the album was released.
5. Silver Springs (1977)
Silver Springs is Stevie Nicks' farewell letter to Lindsay Buckingham, her response to the guitarist's much more aggressive Go Your Own Way. It is also one of the best songs ever to be left off an album, relegated to the B-side of a single. When after recording the songs, Mick Fleetwood called Nicks separately to tell her that Silver Springs was going to be left off Rumours, the singer was furious without knowing that fate had a much worse trick in store for her, as it became the B-side of Go Your Own Way, the song that Buckingham had written to make her suffer... But maybe in the end Nicks got her revenge when the song ended up becoming a cult classic and was recovered for all the following concerts. A few gigs in which, until he was fired (at Nicks' behest), Buckingham had to listen to that phrase that seems to haunt him: "You'll never get away from the sound of the woman who loved you".
4. Rihannon (1975)
Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac because it was imposed by Lindsey Buckingham when Mick Fleetwood invited him to join as the new guitarist. But when on the recording of the band’s first album, Fleetwood Mac, Nicks appeared with this marvel - possibly the most veteran members of the band realized that they had won the lottery and had achieved the most profitable 2x1 in the history of music. The incredible melody, the passionate voice of Nicks and the excellent work of Buckingham on guitar (possibly with his old Telecaster) confirm it.
3. The Chain (1977)
Possibly the most important song, and almost the best, of Fleetwood Mac's career - not in vain is it the only one that bears the signature of the five components of their most successful formation, Buckingham, Nicks, Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie. This song is a blood pact between them to stay together despite the collapse of their personal relationships, "And if you don't want me now, you'll never want me again, but I can still hear you saying you'll never break the chain (never break the chain)". Buckingham adds drive by using a dobro and his Stratocaster with an Alembic Blaster booster installed on the final part, which is driven by one of the best rhythm sections ever.
2. Go Your Own Way (1977)
Buckingham's definitive barb at Nicks, the point of no return in their relationship, a song full of resentment and strength, and also one of the greatest songs of all time. It begins, "Loving you is not the right thing to do," and among other things Buckingham tells Nicks that "Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do," a line that every time they performed live led Nicks to shoot Buckingham a murderous glare, thinking it was, in addition to being untrue, downright cruel. It's only natural that Stevie forcefully joins Lindsey on the chorus, "You can go your own way" The solo is performed with the same bitterness and resentment as the rest of the song; being one of Buckingham's best moments as a guitarist.
1. Dreams (1977)
Rumours is one of the best albums in history, one that still sells like hot cakes today, a work full of resentment and malaise with which the band put honey on the wounds, with their most perfect melodies and harmonies to date, never have broken hearts sounded better than on this one. And perhaps the best example is Dreams composed by Stevie Nicks, an incredible song that she created while bored in the studio with the more technical parts, after discovering that there was another studio with a free piano (it belonged to Sly Stone himself) she set about composing this incredible melody and lyrics that serves as a counterpoint to Buckingham's Go Your Own Way.The song again revolves around the end of their relationship. Perhaps the most poignant moment is when she says directly to the guitarist, "It's only right that you play the way you feel but listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness" before we get to the most perfect chorus in the band's history (with Nicks' voice doubled), and we can hear Lindsey's guitar response throughout the song that, as George Harrison would say, gently weeps.
And now the definitive list of the 20 best Fleetwood Mac songs:
1. Dreams (1977)
2. Go Your Own Way (1977)
3. Need Your Love So Bad (1968)
4. The Chain (1977)
5. Rihannon (1975)
6. Oh Well Part 1 & 2 (1969)
7. Silver Springs (1977)
8. Albatross (1968)
9. Man Of The World (1969)
10. Landslide (1975)
11. Black Magic Woman (1968)
12. Gold Dust Woman (1977)
13. Don’t Stop (1977)
14. The Green Manalishi (1970)
15. Walk A Thin A Line (1979)
16. Tusk (1979)
17. Gypsy (1981)
18. Never Going Back Again (1977)
19. I Don’t Want to Know (1977)
20. Everywhere (1987)