So I’m sitting at home watching one of those VH1 Classic Albums shows, with this episode devoted to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. And yes, while we’ve all heard “Don’t Stop” perhaps a few dozen times too many (thanks in part to that cigar-loving, sax-playing President from days past), I still had to admit that, indeed, this album is one worth celebrating—preferably with a big bowl of cocaine handy. Okay, so I’m kidding about the cocaine part, but I’m not kidding about how freakin’ cool Rumours is. C’mon. Just check out “Dreams.” Bassist John McVie is grooving on two notes for most of the song (that’s how good the drugs were back then). Let’s see Flea do that. There’s the creepy romantic ultimatum “The Chain”—written while guitarist/vocalist/sonic mastermind Lindsey Buckingham was in the throes of splitting up with wife/vocalist/sex symbol Stevie Nicks, where both sing “If you don’t love me now, you will never love me again” to incredibly chilling effect. And then there’s “Go Your Own Way,” which is probably the most anthemic kiss-off tune ever penned.
But it wasn’t all gloom and doom. The album opens with the relatively sprightly “Second Hand News,” and Nicks’s “Gold Dust Woman” finds her at her folky (not flaky) best with one of her most poignant character studies. And keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie’s contributions, from the aforementioned “Don’t Stop” to the sweet FM radio-friendly coo of “You Make Lovin’ Fun” are equally valid and timeless moments of pop bliss. If anything, Rumours is the ultimate proof that Fleetwood Mac at its best was so much more than the sum of its parts.
Of course, legend has it that the entire band was falling to pieces during the making of the record—not hard to understand when you consider that Fleetwood Mac was comprised of two couples that were breaking up with each other (Stevie and Lindsey, and John and Christine), while the sole romantically-unencumbered member, drummer Mick Fleetwood, was a raving coke fiend. Still, amid the shrapnel flying every which way from the many broken hearts, great music was shaped out of the personal wreckage that was Fleetwood Mac ‘77. Romantic relationships, brain cells, and perhaps a nose lining or two were sacrificed at the altar of classic, undying pop. And once the smoke had cleared, Rumours would go on to sell a quadrazillion copies, Stevie would pirouette herself into caricature, Lindsey would cut his ‘fro, get all “new wave” on us and write Tusk, the McVies would remain unfathomably frumpy, and Mick would continue his coke binges for a spell. Fleetwood Mac would eventually return with music that, while sonically adventurous in spots, probably won’t show up on any Classic Albums shows anytime soon. Perhaps one recording experience like Rumours, as sweet as the end result was, is all we should wish upon anyone.