When I was a young girl I fantasized a lot about Fleetwood Mac. Specifically Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. They were my teenage soap opera. I would lie in bed for hours gobbling up their discography, paying strict attention to the sharp pangs of Lindsey’s anger and the romanticism of Stevie. My heart would flutter as the story of their love and break-up wafted from my turntable. For those of you not familiar with Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were a young couple/struggling musicians in California that got their big break the day that Mick Fleetwood and John McVie from the British blues band, Fleetwood Mac, heard them. He welcomed them on board as their lead singers, alongside keyboardist Christine McVie, and the rest is history. This super band when on to record one of the best selling albums of all time, Rumours, with over 40 million copies sold, in addition to many other high-grossing albums that have earned the band their place in rock n’ roll history. Nicks broke up with Buckingham shortly after joining the band in 1976 into 1977 as did the McVies which inspired all but 2 songs on Rumours. Nicks, Buckingham, and McVie all went on to solo careers with Nicks arguably having the most successful post-Fleetwood Mac venture. The band has since reunited intermittently and you can often find them touring together or separately.
In the early days of the Internet, I would peruse Fleetwood Mac lyric interpretation sites and read the messages from fellow lovesick fans that pretty much agreed that every song Stevie and Lindsey wrote was for each other- whether it was true or not. Forget Don Henley and Mick Fleetwood and Jimmy Iovine- Lindsey was the only man that mattered to Stevie. Or rather, we wanted to matter to Stevie. And really why? Lindsey sounds like a huge pain in the ass. His long-term partner after Stevie claimed that he was abusive and Stevie never shied away from discussing his child-like tantrums. BUT THOSE EYES! THAT HAIR! THAT SEMI-MENTALLY CHALLENGED LOOK HE GIVES WHEN REALLY GETTING INTO A GUITAR RIFF! Stevie was no angel either having had a cocaine problem that visibly effected her performances and then later a very serious Klonopin addiction. But Lindsey was a dreamboat and Stevie was his Queen and in the minds of us googly-eyed fans, they’ll always be the perfect couple.
I remember distinctly the day that Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham showed up on my radar. It was 1997. I was 14 years old and the music video for “Silver Springs” from Fleetwood Mac’s reunion tour was taking VH1 by storm. This 1976 B-side was ok; it was simple and had that folk-rock sound a lot of bands had in the 1970’s, but there was something different about it. The singer was really singing about heartache. Forget the cliche verbiage used in break-up songs, Stevie pleaded, threatened, and lamented in “Silver Springs”: And did you say she was pretty?/And did you say that she loved you?/Baby I don’t want to know.
What also made Silver Springs special is that Nicks wasn’t singing about some lover we’ll never know of, she was singing about the dude standing right next to her. And how did we know this? Because she turned away from the crowd and started belting those emotional words to him- twenty years after they broke up. Stevie and Lindsey ensued in a staredown and Stevie broke from her middle-aged rocker phoning-it-in to scream: I’ll follow you down to ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you/You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you/Was I just a fool? Now how is that for a juicy melodrama?
What makes the story of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham so interesting is that their songs tell a lot of truths about their feelings, more truths then they said or acted in person. Though Stevie broke up with Lindsey, the common theme that Lindsey would miss her often ran through her songs. She also insinuated that she still loved him and would get emotional when he’d walk in the room: I still look up when you walk in the room/I try hard not to look up/That girl was me (“Angel” from Tusk 1979) Lindsey was angry and acted as such, but occasionally a softer side would peak through- wishing he could give Stevie everything: If I could, baby, I’d give you my world/Open up everything’s waiting for you (“Go Your Own Way” Rumours 1977) or missing her during those lonely nights: Here comes the nighttime/Looking for a little more/Waiting on the last time/Somebody outside the door (“I Know I’m Not Wrong” Tusk 1979)
Listening to their songs about each other, which typically appeared on every album, with the band or solo, was like trying to piece together a puzzle. Why did these two beautiful people break up if they obviously couldn’t get over one another? The band members will tell you it is because they had to see each other every day. How do you move on from someone when you not only work with them daily, but when that work is an artistic form of expression, one that can leave you emotional and vulnerable. Buckingham vaguely admitted in the song “Say Goodbye” from Fleetwood Mac’s 2003 album Say You Will that he finally moved on from Stevie: Saw your face yesterday/Thinking on the days of old/and the price that we paid/For a love we couldn’t hold/I let you slip away/There was nothing I could do/That was so long ago/Still I often think of you/Now I finally found my way/Now I know just what to do/Once you said goodbye to me/Now I say goodbye to you.
Lindsey wrote this song 27 years after they broke up. He had a new wife and children yet he still wrote about his first love. Stevie was even quoted as saying in 2009 that the day she realized that she and Lindsey would never get back together was the day that his first child was born (in 1998). “It’s over”, Nicks said. “It doesn’t mean the great feeling isn’t there, it must mean that…you know, we’re beauty and the beast. It means that the love is always there but we’ll never be together, so that’s even more romantic.”
And she’s right. I don’t think their love story will ever die.
For you Buckingham/Nicks junkies, here is a great site to drool over.
What is your favorite Fleetwood Mac song?