Shakespeare once said that “misery acquaints men with strange bedfellows.” In the case of Fleetwood Mac, strange bedfellows led to misery, but also great art. Their 1977 classic “Rumours” is a first person narrative on the rocky relationship bell curve, from the early love smitten days (“You Make Lovin’ Fun”) to the harrowing tales of lust and deceit (“Break The Chain.”)
The story of the album’s genesis is on par with something from an MTV “reality” show. In a five piece band, four of the members were dating each other. During the album’s recording, alpha male lead singer Lindsey Buckingham split with Stevie Nicks after her love affair with sandy haired Eagles frontman Don Henley. John and Christie McVie also split during the recording to add spicy peppers to the big brewing pot of love stew.
The tension is palable on tracks like “Never Going Back Again” as Buckingham spits venom but cloaks it with catchy upbeat pop hooks like a maniacal genius. He says:
Been down two times
I’m never going back again
You don’t know what it means to win
The famous cut “Go Your Own Way” actually has Stevie Nicks singing back up vocals on a song that Buckingham wrote about her inability to love him . A current star might look to the tabloids for refuge after a split, Buckingham preferred to hit his ex where it hurt; her art. I wonder if when Nicks hears or sings the line “Shacking up is all you wanna do” the image of Don Henley pops in her head to the sound of “Desperado.”
All tension and headgames aside, “Rumours” is a classic disc that anyone should own. Everyone has experienced heartbreak and the ensuing unpleasantness; Buckingham and Co. provide the support group.