This week: The 10 best Fleetwood Mac Songs
This will be a new occasional feature, so don’t count on a weekly post. It might not even be a music post, so I can expand my horizons into other pop culture nonsense. Don’t expect the serious, though, like “The 10 Best Doctors for Breast Augmentation” or anything. I don’t want to be sued, forcryingoutloud.
Let’s get this straight right off: these are my picks for the 10 best songs from each artist I choose. Go ahead and argue with me if you like, but I don’t have to agree.
If you checked out my charts on last.fm, the artist that’s played the most on my computers is Fleetwood Mac, and I guess that’s due to the sheer number of FM songs I’ve ripped to iTunes. The last.fm charts reveal only the music I’ve played in iTunes since I joined in 2005, so whatever I play constantly in my car isn’t counted, so it’s not a true portrait. My top 20 artists do reflect what I’ve listened to in the last 10 years, though, with the exception of Coldplay. I went through a short, intense Coldplay phase, due to my devotion to “A Rush Of Blood To The Head.” Let’s call that an anomaly, ok?
Anyway, here’s my Fleetwood Mac (through all phases of their long career) top 10.
10. Monday Morning, from Fleetwood Mac (1975, topped US album chart in 1976) – This soaring Lindsey Buckingham song opens the album and introduces us to his nimble guitar fingers and brilliant arranging ability, and hints at the relationship turmoil to come with “first you love me, then you get on down the line.”
9. Hypnotized, from Mystery To Me (1973) – A jazzy song, made sexy by Bob Welch‘s come-hither vocal coupled with Christine McVie’s alluring backup. Underneath it is a repetitive drum part that pulls you along while you’re soothed by meowing jazz guitar riffs. Sublime.
8. Tusk, from Tusk (1979) – Oh, the marching band! At first, I hated this song, as well as the album. “What kind of fucking follow-up to brilliance is this?” I thought. Then I let it settle in for a few years, fully appreciating Lindsey’s hard work and agonizing when I saw a FM “Behind The Music” on VH1. I listened anew, repeatedly, and it grew on me quite quickly, especially when I realized that the band never again reached such heights. I love the percussive quality of the song more than anything.
7. Black Magic Woman, from English Rose (1969) – This was a tough pick, since I love Albatross, a Peter Green song from the same record, equally. This was a Top 40 hit in the UK, but nobody heard it in the US until Santana covered it. The squealing blues guitar (Danny Kirwan or Jeremy Spencer, I’m not clear on which one is playing here) is the star of the song.
6. Rhiannon, from Fleetwood Mac – It’s about time I got to Stevie Nicks. This is the song that made it clear that Stevie was a force unto herself. Anyone who saw her perform this early on witnessed the transformation from Stevie into this witchy persona. (We found out later on just how much of that was actually drug-fueled, but that’s nit-picky, doncha think?) Christine McVie’s keyboards are as dreamy and mesmerizing as Stevie’s lyrics and vocals.
5. Songbird, from Rumours (1977) Truly my favorite Christine McVie contribution to the band. She recorded it during an all-night recording session at Zellerbach Auditorium in Berkeley. My only quibble with the Rumours album is that I thought Songbird and Gold Dust Woman should have been swapped, as Songbird seemed more like a fitting end to that record, with the solo piano and Christine’s soothing voice.
4. Oh Well, from Then Play On (1969) – This Peter Green song has to be the most rocking song the band ever recorded, and I love the second half, when it slows down to a crawl and allows an exploration of some medieval sounds. Truly brilliant.
3. Silver Springs, recorded during the Rumours sessions, and originally released at the B-side of Go Your Own Way – I first heard the song when my friend Lori had the Go Your Own Way single, and I’d ask her to play it in her barracks room over and over. The lyrics drew me in, as well as Stevie’s earnest delivery of “you’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.” (STALKER?)
2. Go Your Own Way, from Rumours – Lindsey at his blistering best, with the snark flying in all directions. Genius arrangement, fabulous vocal harmonies, and biting lyrics. I never get tired of hearing this one.
1. Landslide, from Fleetwood Mac – This will always be my favorite FM song. It’s so simple and emotional. She wrote it when she was deciding whether or not to pursue her dream, and had created a deadline to make it or go home. Lindsey’s little guitar interlude fits the melancholic atmosphere, and drives the message home. Sometimes the unadorned songs are the most effective.