“The band would come in at 7 at night, have a big feast, party till 1 or 2 in the morning, and then when they were so whacked out they couldn’t do anything, they’d start recording.” – Chris Stone
“Trauma, Trau-ma. The sessions were like a cocktail party every night – people everywhere. We ended up staying in these weird hospital rooms….and of course John and me were not exactly the best of friends.” – Christine McVie
Rumours is the 11th studio album by the British-American band Fleetwood Mac. It was released in 1977 and reached the top of the charts in both the US and the UK. This album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978 and has sold over 40 million copies worldwide.
This album is known for the conflict happening behind the scenes. There were relationship breakups, hedonistic behavior, interpersonal strife between band members, and more stuff going on than I like to think about. We have Christine McVie (vocalist) and John McVie (bassist) divorcing, Lindsey Buckingham (guitarist/vocalist) and Stevie Nicks (vocalist) having an on/off relationship with much fighting, and Mick Fleetwood (drummer) facing problems after discovering that his wife had an affair with his best friend. This is enough for a soap opera, right? Right. I think it is a bit of a miracle that this album even got made.
The relationship drama had a bit of a negative effect on Fleetwood Mac as a group. The musicians did not socialize outside of their studio work and drugs began to be a pretty big factor. Sleepless nights plus lots and lots of cocaine equaled much of what the production of this album was all about.
The working title of this album was Yesterday’s Gone. During the early stages of the compositions of the tracks, Buckingham and Christine McVie played guitar and piano together to create the basic structures of the album. Christine McVie was the only classically trained member of Fleetwood Mac! (This little factoid really stood out to me!)
The main writers of the songs for Fleetwood Mac were Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, and Stevie Nicks. They worked individually on their specific songs but would, at times, share lyrics with each other. The only track on this album that all band members collaborated on was “The Chain.”
If you look for the theme of this album, it is fairly evident. Each of the songs is about relationships, often troubled and very personal. The songs cover a variety of emotions – hopeful, pessimistic, discontented, optimistic, introspective, sarcastic, etc. So, I guess there is a little something for everyone!
The instrumentation is a mix of acoustic and electric. The percussion is distinctive, with the use of congas and maracas. The sounds seem to be experimenting with the interplay between the three vocalists and just how much they could get away with in terms of the instruments. It is a much more interesting listen when you listen for the instruments and try to understand why certain choices were made.
Rumours was very familiar to me without me realizing as I started listening how familiar I was with the tracks. Many of these songs I have known for years. I have never considered myself a Fleetwood Mac fan but, I suppose, it is because I never really stopped to consider Fleetwood Mac at all.
My favorite track on the album is “Songbird.” This song to me is pleading for love and wanting the audience these words were written for to understand. It feels as if this song were written for a very specific person and, knowing the background of this album, it probably was written very specifically. It is an emotive piece that feels very simple musically. I think it is this simple aspect that makes it stand out. It is a beautiful piece of art. Go listen.
If you do not recognize “Go Your Own Way,” “Don’t Stop,” or “Gold Dust Woman,” I just do not know if I believe you are alive and have been alive in this modern era. Seriously. Go YouTube them or something. I have known these songs since I was young.
I still cannot get over the fact of how well I knew this album without ever really knowing that I knew this album. Wow.
I enjoyed listening to this quite a lot. In fact, I think I listened to this album over this past week 3 or 4 times completely front to back just to grasp what I was hearing and feeling. This album will be high on my list and definitely added to my “To Buy” albums.
Go listen to this album if you haven’t and thank me later…. or thank me in advance. That would work too.
- Lindsey Buckingham: guitars, dobro, percussion, vocals
- Stevie Nicks: vocals
- Christine McVie: keyboads, vocals
- John McVie: bass guitar
- Mick Fleetwood: drums, percussion, harpsichord