2020 has been a year of unpredictable twists and turns – but even taking into account all of the truly weird shit that has gone down so far, the sight of Fleetwood Mac sign up for TikTok and strapp on roller skates stands out as a notable curveball.
Formed in London in 1967, Fleetwood Mac went through many various different shifts, changing line-ups constantly throughout the early 70s. And when Bob Welch quit the band towards the end of 1974, the search for a replacement brought guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and his then-partner Stevie Nicks into the fold. With this, the best-known and most commercially successful iteration of Fleetwood Mac was born, and their self-titled 10th album bagged them a Number One record.
It was a pop-rock fairy tale, until shit hit the fan the following year. Amid the band’s huge success, the inter-band drama became messier than a series of Love Island. John and Christine McVie’s marriage ended, and Buckingham and Nicks broke up. Further down the line, during the ‘Rumours’ tour, Nicks had an affair with Mick Fleetwood – and all of this brewing tension paints a fairly chaotic picture of ‘Rumours’’ creation. What ensued were tempestuous recording sessions, copious amounts of drugs and booze, and a group desperately trying to stay together in the face of it all. Not great news for Fleetwood Mac’s collective blood pressure, sure – but it resulted in one of the most bittersweet break-up albums of all time.
Penned by Stevie Nicks, ‘Dreams’ deals with the end of her eight-year relationship with Lindsey Buckingham – and the intensity of trying to remain professional in the studio amid their personal turmoil. Speaking to Blender in 2007, Buckingham called strained relations at the time an “elaborate exercise of denial”. When Nicks sings the chorus hook – ”thunder only happens when it’s raining / Players only love you when they’re playing” – she seems to be alluding to the gulf between their chemistry on-stage, and their crumbling partnership in private.
Nick wrote the bare-bones of ‘Dreams’ were written in about 10 minutes. She wasn’t needed in the main studio that day, and so took her Fender Rhodes piano to a neighbouring studio belonging to Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone. When she returned with ‘Dreams’, the rest of the band “weren’t nuts about it,” recounted Nicks. Christine McVie initially thought it was “boring”.
Despite the song’s subject matter, Lindsey Buckingham collaborated on ‘Dreams’ – speaking to the Daily Mail, Nick recalled: “Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled. What was going on between us was sad – we were couples who couldn’t make it through. But, as musicians, we still respected each other.” Buckingham added layered chords, and the relative simplicity paid off: ‘Dreams’ became Fleetwood Mac’s highest-charting single of the 70s. Elsewhere, admittedly, he got his revenge by writing the spitefully chipper ‘You Can Go Your Own Way’.
Thanks to The Corrs, of all people, ‘Dreams’ enjoyed a late-’90s resurgence with their vaguely dancey cover – complete with dramatic Celtic violins and pulsing piano. Their version was later remixed by house DJ Todd Terry, who lent it additional punch, which took ‘Dreams’ back into the charts under a different guise. Strangely, this isn’t the only house-leaning version: in 2005, Stevie Nicks sang vocals on another remake of the song by Washington D.C. dance duo Deep Dish.
In 2011, an episode of the all-singing-all-dancing Ryan Murphy show Glee dedicated to ‘Rumours’ landed ‘Dreams’ back in the UK charts, and seven years later, it popped up again in a viral tweet. The meme in question busted the claim that “Fleetwood Mac’s music is so boring, you can’t even dance to it” by setting ‘Dreams’ alongside staggeringly complex choreography by a college dance troupe.
And now, to quote Stevie Nicks’ opening lyric: “here you go again”. And this time ’Dreams’ is charting again thanks to Apodaca’s carefree TikTok video, in which he cruises serenely along on his longboard, mustering the kind of calm most of us can only wish for amid the global pandemic.
Perhaps much of ‘Dreams’ enduring popularity comes down to the fact this song is essentially a folk-inflected low-key dance track, and Fleetwood Mac’s most laidback bop, lending itself to constant reinvention. Speaking to Blender about the making of ‘Dreams’, Nicks said: “Right away I liked the fact that I was doing something with a dance beat, because that made it a little unusual for me.”
It’s straight-forward in melody, but complicated in sentiment – a timeless combination, whatever the cirumstances.