Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours
Recorded in California in 1976, and released the following year, Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh album, ‘Rumours,’ is the band’s most successful album, selling more than 45 million albums, making it also one of the most successful albums of all time.
The background for the songs on the album starts in July of 1975. The band had just released their tenth album, which was self-titled, and was commercially a great success. The album went to number 1 on the Billboard 200 and the album’s biggest hit, “Rhiannon,” was a radio success. The band line-up, at the time, was Lindsey Buckingham (guitar & vocals), Mick Fleetwood (drums), Christine McVie (keyboards & vocals), John McVie (bass), and Stevie Nicks (vocals). Non-stop touring led to the divorce of Christine and John, the on and off relationship between Lindsey and Stevie, and Mick’s discovery of his wife’s infidelity. Christine and John would only discuss music matters and Lindsey and Stevie’s arguments would only stop when the duo would write songs together.
All of this led to studio sessions at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California, a controversial decision by Mick, as the other members wanted to record the album at their homes. As recording progressed, the band members’ new romantic relationships as well as extensive cocaine use started to have a negative effect on the band. Stevie Nicks would say that the band created their best work when they were in the worst shape. John McVie suggested the ‘Rumours’ album title because he felt that the members were writing journal entries about each other through the music. In December 1976, the band decided to release “Go Your Own Way” as a promotional single. This led to an advance album order of 800,000 copies, which, at the time, was the largest in Warner Bros. history. The album was finally released February 4, 1977.
All of the songs on the album contain lyrics about personal relationships. Lindsey, Stevie, and Christine were responsible for all of the lyrics but they worked individually on specific songs. The only song on the album that all members, including Mick and John, worked on was “The Chain.”
“Go Your Own Way” was the lead single on the album and was written by Lindsey Buckingham. It is also my favorite song of all time. I have listened to the song throughout my childhood but the lyrics did not mean anything to me until I was ending my first serious relationship. Contrasting the upbeat melody and instrumentals with lyrics of heartbreak after a one sided relationship, Lindsey Buckingham put all of his feelings towards Stevie Nicks out on the table. It is clear within the music that Lindsey is angry, confused and full of disbelief about the end of the relationship. “Go Your Own Way” was the band’s first Top 10 single in the United States and set the table for their most successful album.
“Dreams” on the other hand was Stevie’s testimony for the relationship. The song is not nearly as upbeat as “Go Your Own Way” but it tells a similar tale of anger at the end of a relationship. It was the second single off the album and became Fleetwood Mac’s only number one single. She claims she wrote the song in 10 minutes and that the other members of the band were not fans of it originally. Stevie had to beg the band to record it and after they did, the other members changed their mind.
“Don’t Stop” is Christine McVie’s hit about the separation from her husband John. But instead of talking about anger, it talks about optimism. Christine knew that the only way she could talk to John was to put it into music. She wanted him to know that she still wanted the best for him despite their divorce. It has also taken on another meaning. Used by Bill Clinton as his campaign song in 1992, it talks about looking into the future instead of wallowing in the past.
Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ is definitely a break up album but it does not flood the listener with depressing beats and minor keys. The up beat instrumentals and catchy lyrics made Fleetwood Mac legends. After listening to the entire album it is clear that it deserves its title as one of the greatest albums of all time.