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Los Angeles Times (06/14/1992), Buckingham's In His Own Palace < Lindsey Buckingham < Main Page

Los Angeles Times (06/14/1992), Buckingham's In His Own Palace

Los Angeles Times, Sunday, June 14, 1992
POP MUSIC/Calendar Section

Buckinghamís in His Own Palace

In his first album in the post-Mac era, the onetime idol attempts to reconcile his interest in artistic side waters with his talent for the mainstream.

by Chris Willman

In his new video for the song "Wrong," which spoofs the trappings and trapdoors of the music industry, Lindsey Buckingham literally goes to battle with himself, getting locked in guitar duels with a succession of glitzier doppelgangers that pop out of his mirror.

In the mindís eye of the public, there may be two Lindsey Buckinghams lingering as well.

One was the driving creative force behind Fleetwood Mac during its reign as the best-selling rock group of the 70ís - the sexy, curly-haired pop god who helped craft the wildly commercial hits written and sung by the groupís Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie.

The other image that emerged over time was that of the reclusive artiste - Buckingham as a hermit who hated the self-made formulas that Fleetwood Mac felt compelled to follow, who seemed genuinely disturbed by the groupís superstardom, and who went into long seclusions to vent creative steam and make a couple of very eccentric, rather dark solo albums.

Out of the Cradle, his first album since splitting from Fleetwood Mac in 1987, represents an attempt to bring the two Buckinghams back together . . . "to reconcile the esoteric and the mainstream," as he puts it.

Truth be told, he seems a little concerned that the "tortured artist" image he picked up around the time of his last solo album, 1984ís Go Insane, might be daunting to potential customers now. In any case, heís eager to emphasize that this years-in-the-making album isnít just reflections of the artsier spleen he was venting on side projects before, but also encompasses the commercialism of his prime work with Mac.

No more competing doppelgangers.

"One of the things about that situation," Buckingham says of Fleetwood Macís touchy group dynamics, "was that in some ways I was called upon to provide the real edgy, quirky stuff, and even if I had an inclination to write something more romantic or softer . . . that was already being covered by two other people pretty well."

And then, on the two solo albums from the early Ď80s, "I was looking into one side trip, trying to carve something different out alongside of the mainstream thing we were doing with the group, and it did lead in a more direct route to certain darker things - and certainly less marketable things," he says with a chuckle.

"That was certainly a truthful part of myself - and my involvement in the mainstream was truthful too. But having left that one situation, it seemed like the most truthful thing to do now was try to reconcile both of those into one things."

Whatís most surprising about Out of the Cradle is its relative cheerfulness, an attitude not often associated with Buckingham in the Fleetwood Macís later years. Itís tempting to want to connect this optimism to the stability of his private life; while Go Insane obsessively mourned one romantic relationship, heís been steadily involved with another love in the intervening eight years.

But Buckingham, 42, attributes the large part of the new albumís sunniness to his continuing exultation at having finally worked up the nerve to leave Fleetwood Mac after wanting out for so many years.

He calls the Go Insane period "kinda strappo," his term for feeling emotionally and professionally straitjacketed. "The personal life was not that great. And even the creative end of the tunnel was kind of hard to find. And I guess looking at making a decision to leave a situation that youíve been in for a long time, trying to do it at the right time, when it wasnít hurtful to the other people, given the responsibility that you have of maybe taking their stuff and fashioning it into whatever . . . . There were a lot of things that were almost impossible to work through while youíre with those people. [The new album] was a way to put it behind me and to look forward to a time where I can keep striving to grow a little bit more on my own terms. Yeah, itís very optimistic."

Except, of course, for the parts that arenít. Out of the Cradle, for all its rosy post-Mac talk of moving on, still has its moments of bitterness, nostalgia, loneliness, death. Once a crank, always a crank?

"Yeah, thereís some dark undertones." A snicker, "Thatís me."

Buckingham describes the song "Wrong" as "just a composite number of people that I know whoíve fallen into the pitfalls of the trappings of the biz. Just generic types . . . and kind of laughing at myself a little too, I guess."

Those in the know, though, insist that "Wrong" isnít so much a composite as a satirical slap at ex-bandmate Mick Fleetwood. Certainly the repeated line "The man just got it wrong" describes Buckinghamís feelings about Fleetwoodís little-read, tell-all autobiography; Buckingham has particularly disputed the drummerís account of his leaving the band.

In any case, the latest of many family feuds probably wonít prevent a full-band reunion for the recording of several new Fleetwood Mac tracks for a Christmas-time box-set retrospective, which may well be the bandís swan song.

Though the band carried on without him after his 1987 departure, Buckingham did rejoin Mac to sing and play "Go Your Own Way" as an encore on two West Coast dates last year during a "farewell" tour.

"When I walked backstage before the shows and saw all the same people still working for them, it really was as if Iíd gone back to the hotel the night before and had a dream that I had left the band and woke up and I was going to the show the next day. It was unsettlingly familiar. But I never regretted [leaving] for a minute. I hadnít been overly happy in that situation for a period of time before that. It was hard for me to feel it was a really productive atmosphere toward the end. I had been trying to wait until it was karmically all right to do it, so that I didnít feel like I was pulling out at a time when it would have been a really hurtful thing. I donít feel I did, so from that point of view, I donít regret that. And nothing thatís happened to me since makes me regret it."

In retrospect, given the personalities involved, itís hard to believe the band hung together as long as it did.

"And for all we know, itís still together! Those two shows, that was supposed to be the farewell tour, and then after that, we heard that Stevie and Christine will make albums but they wonít tour, so it was like a qualified farewell tour. I donít know, I donít think there is any Fleetwood Mac anymore - except for whatever we do for the boxed set." (A publicist at Warner Bros. Records confirms that Fleetwood Mac is currently "dissolved as a working unit," aside from the boxset plans).

When, in 1987 Buckingham declined to tour behind the Tango in the Night album, which was completed after he pilfered songs from his own in-progress solo album, the group decided to forge on anyhow and replaced him with relatively unknown singer-guitarists Rick Vito and Billy Burnette.

Buckingham thus found himself in the position of having his hits "covered" every night, just as in the mid-Ď70s heíd been called upon to reproduce the parts of his predecessors in Fleetwood Mac. Still, he found the exactitude of his successors unsettling.

"I didnít mind that," he notes. "There was the joke that they needed two people to replace me, which was not really fair, but it was funny. I think the oddest feeling I got was when I saw some of those shows on the West Coast, and Rick Vito was playing my solos verbatim, they werenít outgrowths of his own thing. And that was like watching a clone. But what are you gonna do? Iím sure [early Mac member] Peter Green felt that way. Thatís part of the tradition of the band," he says, laughing.

Buckingham likens working with Fleetwood Mac to putting together a major motion picture - not just collaborative, but fraught with meetings to plan the collaboration. Whereas working solo, heíd say, is akin to painting.

"Working with that group of people, anyway - as opposed to if you were playing jazz and just capturing moment after moment on tape - it was a more political process, really. It was a verbalized thing where you had to go through many more steps just to get to that beginning point of creating music. Working on my own, I make that analogy to painting because even if you start off with the same idea as you did in a group situation, itís a much more intuitive process, because you take a brush, you start to put strokes on the canvas, and at some point if you are keeping your intuition going, maybe the work will start to speak to you and lead you off in a direction that you didnít expect to go. The sense of discovery seems more acute in that process. There seems to be a wider range of possibilities that may just occur."

Thematically, the new album touches several times on the death years ago of Buckinghamís beloved father, especially in the brooding, "Street of Dreams." The tribute even extends to an instrumental version of his fatherís favorite song, Rodgers & Hammersteinís "This Nearly Was Mine."

"Before he died many years ago, I used to visit him and talk to him a lot. I think that lyric [in "Street of Dreams"] was even from [the Go Insane period], when maybe some of the wind had been taken out of my sails. That seemed to fit so well with just the general sense in the album of trying to pursue a set of illusions you might have made for yourself, which is something thatís kind of rampant in this town, anyway, for people who havenít quite connected with anything - and that, applying my own sense of loneliness at that time. And Iím still . . . " The guardedness kicks in before he finishes his sentence. "Everyone feels that."

Still, thereís a "buoyancy," as he puts it, in this long-labored-over album, implicit in its moniker, an abridgment of the title of a Walt Whitman poem.

"Thereís a certain irony at this point in my life to be feeling like a baby. Thereís also a certain want to perpetuate the child, which I still think I have pretty much intact and donít want to see get killed. But the full title of the poem is ĎOut of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking,í and thereís certainly a double-meaning there. Because Iíve been doing this for a while."

Thanks to Lesley Thode for the submission.

Date: 1992-06-14         Number of views: 1391

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