Never Break the Chain

I pulled out Fleetwood Mac’s classic record album Rumours this morning, and listened to (most of) it on the way to work. I haven’t listened to it in years, and I think I’d forgotten how good it is — it’s considered a classic for a reason. Part of it is obviously the presence of the big hits Dreams, Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way, and You Make Loving Fun, but the other songs are all great as well (particularly Never Going Back Again and The Chain), with (for me) two glaring exceptions: the boring Songbird and the boring Oh Daddy, both of which are Christine McVie songs. Lindsay Buckingham and Steve Nicks, I always thought, were the primary singers and songwriters of Fleetwood Mac (at least during their heyday in the late 70’s and into the 80’s), and Christine McVie was “the other one”, who wrote and sang some songs as well, but rarely the good ones. Her songs were always closer to “adult contemporary” and further away from the rockier stuff, and I’ve always found her voice kind of boring. Stevie Nicks’ voice, on the other hand, is very unique, and can be either powerful or soft depending on the song. McVie wrote the hits like You Make Loving Fun, Don’t Stop (though Lindsay Buckingham sings mosts of it), Say You Love Me, Over My Head, Hold Me, Little Lies, and Everywhere — with the exception of Don’t Stop, all of them are keyboard-heavy love songs. They’re not all bad songs (I actually like Don’t Stop and Hold Me, and I don’t mind Little Lies), just not so much my cup of tea. Some of her lyrics are a little more inane than the rest of the band, like from You Make Loving Fun: “Sweet wonderful you, you make me happy with the things you do”, or from Say You Love Me: “Woo me until the sun comes up and you say that you love me”. How often do people nowadays use the term “woo me”?

“Dreams” is, for me, a song that just screams “radio in the seventies”. I was eight when it was released in 1977, and was just starting to pay attention to the music my parents listened to on the radio. I remember listening to the lyrics and even analyzing them in my little eight-year-old way:

Thunder only happens when it’s raining   (obviously)
players only love you when they’re playing   (why? That doesn’t seem fair)

Strangely, even though I always think of the 70’s when I hear that song, I think it has also aged well, in that it doesn’t sound like a 70’s song. There are some songs that you just don’t hear on the radio after a few years because their sound is so typical of a certain year or “era” that they sound old. You will still hear “Dreams” on the radio, but rarely “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band. Melissa Etheridge’s self-titled debut and “Skyscraper” by David Lee Roth were both released in 1988, but Roth’s album gets almost no airplay these days on rock radio stations, while you’ll still hear Melissa Etheridge now and again. Why? Because Roth’s album sounds like a typical late-80’s pop-rock album, while Etheridge’s music is a little more timeless. Same with Fleetwood Mac.


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