First for music news
This Week's Issue
You’re logged in

NME Blogs - NME Blogs

20 Insanely Great Fleetwood Mac Songs

By Ailbhe Malone

Posted on 16 Jul 12

 
 

With 17 studio albums, more cast changes than the Sugababes and a career spanning almost fifty years, there's no denying the impact Fleetwood Mac have had on the musical world. From the forthcoming indie tribute album, 'Just Tell Me That You Want Me', featuring Best Coast and Lykke Li, to the (oh dear) 'Rumours' episode of Glee, it's clear that the Mac are having a bit of a moment. And with the news that the classic line-up (minus Christine McVie) are reuniting for a tour, we gathered together our top twenty Fleetwood Mac songs.

AM



20'Save Me'

With Lindsey Buckingham gone, Fleetwood Mac roped in new members Billy Burnette and Rick Vito for 1990’s ‘Behind The Mask’. ‘Save Me’ is indicative of the era - with Wayne’s World-style guitar solos, and standard back-beat. Regardless, there are flashes of brilliance - the vocal harmonies in the bridge on "You just won’t look my way", and Nicks declaring "I can’t wait any longer for paradise."
From: ‘Behind The Mask’, 1990

19'Big Love'

Lindsey Buckingham was originally going to use ‘Big Love’ for his third solo album, but instead the track found its way to ‘Tango In The Night’. Buckingham still managed to claim the track though - the feminine ‘aah’s on the track are his. He had his voice sampled and altered in studio so that it would sound like a woman's. Which once you’ve heard, you can’t un-hear.
From: ‘Tango In The Night’, 1987

18'Family Man'

A tropical track from ‘Tango In The Night’ that sees Lindsey Buckingham channel a futuristic mix of Peter Gabriel and Friendly Fires’ Ed McFarlane. Using the layered male and female vocals of the other tracks on the album, coupled with flamenco guitar and a beatboxing segment ought to sound rushed and ill-advised. Instead, it feels like all the best bits of a mix-tape, all in just over four minutes.
From: ‘Tango In The Night’, 1987

FM


17'Beautiful Child'

Out of kilter with ‘Tusk’s mainly new-wave vibe, ‘Beautiful Child’ is a sweet respite towards the end of the album. Melancholic harmonies between Nicks and McVie lament the loss of innocence, but also look forward to change and growth. It’s not easy, it’s always complicated, but that’s how life is sometimes, they sing. "I’m not a child any more, I’m tall enough to reach for the stars."
From: ‘Tusk’, 1979

16'Tusk'

That drum tattoo you hear at the start of ‘Tusk’? It’s actually the University of Southern California’s Trojan Marching Band. All 300-ish of them. The track set the record for the highest number of musicians performing on a single, and considering that it came in the wake of ‘Rumours’, still went to #6 in the UK. Opening with a chanted "Why don’t you ask him if he’s going to stay?" before moving into a shriek of "Just tell me that you want me", it’s paranoid, aggressive, and totally brilliant.
From: ‘Tusk’, 1979

FM


15'Little Lies'

We’re not sure why the video for this track is set on an abandoned farm, but we’ll try and put that in the past. Fleetwood Mac’s final top ten in the US, 1987’s ‘Little Lies’ has a similar haunting hook to ‘Everywhere’, coupled with the surreptitious guitar lines of ‘Dreams’, making it mathematically at least 10% better than anything else.
From: ‘Tango In The Night’, 1987

14'I'm So Afraid'

A Fleetwood Mac concert without ‘I’m So Afraid’ would be like a Bruce Springsteen concert without ‘Thunder Road’. Originally a B-Side to ‘Over My Head’, the track quickly became a live staple, closing nearly every Mac gig, and appearing on each Fleetwood Mac live album (including an almost 10-minute version on 2004’s ‘Live: In Boston’). Thematically, it’s not classic Mac - more hard rock than blues- but it’s worth it for the lengths the group take it to.
From: ‘Fleetwood Mac’, 1975

FM


13'Don't Stop'

A happier spin on a ‘Rumour’s break-up, vocalist Christine McVie committed to looking forward, rather than backward after eight years of marriage with bass guitarist John McVie. A relentlessly positive piano riff opens the track, and a trotting drum fill urges the listener- and the singer to remember that ‘it’ll be better than before, yesterday’s gone’.
From: ‘Rumours’, 1977

12'Silver Springs'

A ‘Rumours’ off-cut, ‘Silver Springs’ was the B-Side to ‘Go Your Own Way’, and only made it onto a Fleetwood Mac album almost twenty years after it was written - on 1997’s ‘The Dance’. With an Appalachian bent, Nicks sings, "I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me". Silvery strings echo around a slide guitar, as the harmonies rise, as Nicks leaves the past behind.
From: ‘The Dance’, 1997

11'Sara'

An attempt to chronicle the relationships and ups and downs in the band during the ‘Rumours’ years, this single from 1979’s ‘Tusk’ exists in several different lengths and edits, but each is just as forlorn as the other. Nicks sings of "drowning in a sea of love, where everyone would love to drown", over Mick Fleetwood’s brush drum-work, the harsh mixing with the mellow.
From: ‘Tusk’, 1979

fm


10'You Make Loving Fun'

Another Christine McVie ‘Rumours’ track, ‘You Make Loving Fun’ came from a typically ‘Rumours’ background. Inspired by an affair McVie had with the group’s lighting director Curry Grant, she sings "sweet, wonderful you, you make me happy with the things you do". Which we’re sure ex-husband John McVie enjoyed hearing, while playing the bass groove that runs through the track.
From: ‘Rumours’, 1977

FM


9'Everywhere'

Sometimes a song becomes so familiar that what makes it special is nudged into the background, like a favourite dress worn too many times. ‘Everywhere'’s blissed out vocals, perky bass line, and shimmering middle eight all combine to make a magical track about the joy of the first moments of a relationship. Feel free to give the Disney-via-ITV accompanying video a miss though.
From: ‘Tango In The Night’ 1987

8'Gypsy'

Originally earmarked for Stevie Nicks’ solo debut, ‘Gypsy’ instead ended up on 1982’s ‘Mirage’. The story behind the song is twofold. The lyrics refer to Nicks reflecting on her time before Fleetwood Mac, when she was playing in Buckingham Nicks and struggling to make ends meet. However, ‘Gypsy’ is also a memorial for Nicks’ best friend Robin Snyder Anderson who died of leukemia. Nicks explained that the line "I see your bright eyes" was written especially for Snyder.
From: ‘Mirage’, 1982

FM


7'Rhiannon'

‘Rhiannon’ was Stevie Nicks’ breakthrough. Written before she joined Fleetwood Mac, the track was first featured on Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album, and soon made a single. At the time, her impassioned live performances of the track were a sight to behold, leading Mick Fleetwood to comment on Behind The Music that Stevie "is not a person that half cooks anything, so her Rhiannon in those days was like an exorcism.”
From: ‘Fleetwood Mac’, 1975

6'Gold Dust Woman''

Along with ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Dreams’, ‘Gold Dust Woman’ completes the triumvirate of classic Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac tracks. Though the track references cocaine use - "Take your silver spoon, and dig your grave" - Nicks insists it wasn't autobiographical, because she wasn't yet an addict at that point.
From: ‘Rumours’,1977

FM


5'Songbird'

One of Christine McVie’s finer turns, ‘Songbird’ perhaps lives on now in current memory thanks to several definitive cover versions. Firstly, of course, Eva Cassidy’s 1998 version of the track, and secondly, Willie Nelson’s 2006 recording - produced by Ryan Adams. We’ll leave the Glee version aside for now. Despite these versions of the tracks, it’s the original that sticks. McVie’s heart breaks as she sings "I wish you all the love in the world, but most of all I wish it for myself".
From: ‘Rumours’,1977

4'The Chain'

The only track credited to all members of the 'Rumours'-era line-up of Fleetwood Mac (Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine Mc Vie, John McVie and Stevie Nicks), the key to ‘The Chain’ lies in its simplicity. While other tracks on the album might be more sonically lush, ‘The Chain’ pares things back, leaving the bass riff to carry through the melody to its final, crashing end.
From: ‘Rumours’,1977

FM


3'Dreams'

The only U.S number one for the group , ‘Dreams’ was written amidst a trio of break-ups that would make ABBA look like the Brady Bunch, ‘Dreams’ was reportedly composed in under ten minutes. A plaintive slide guitar underpins the poignancy of lost love. "Women they will come and they will go/When the rain washes you clean you’ll know".
From: ‘Rumours’,1977

2'Landslide'

When Stevie Nicks wrote ‘Landslide’, she was at a crossroads. Only 25, her previous group with Lindsey Buckingham - Buckingham Nicks - had been dropped by their label Polydor after only one album, and her relationship with Buckingham was strained. The track has been covered many times since - from Smashing Pumpkins to the Dixie Chicks - but the original remans the best. Nicks’ cautious vocal sounds even more helpless knowing what’s yet to come.
From: ‘Fleetwood Mac’,1975

FM


1'Go Your Own Way'

The first single from ‘Rumours’, ‘Go Your Own Way’ was a sign of things to come. Two months later, ‘Rumours’ went to number one. The track itself is defiant - a metaphor for all the heartbreak and struggle in the group. But within the anger, there's catharsis, and a promise that next time won't be the same.
From: ‘Rumours’ 1977



Yes, we know we haven't included anything pre-Buckingham and Nicks joining the band. But that's a whole other feature...

 
 
 
Comments

Please login to add your comment.

 
Latest Tickets - Booking Now
 
Know Your NME
 

 
Most Read News
Popular This Week
NME Store & Framed Prints
Inside NME.COM
On NME.COM Today