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The Bergen County Record (05/25/2003), Yesterday's Gone; Fleetwood Mac pursues tomorrow < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

The Bergen County Record (05/25/2003), Yesterday's Gone; Fleetwood Mac pursues tomorrow

The Bergen County Record, May 25, 2003

Yesterday's gone; Fleetwood Mac pursues tomorrow
by JOHN PETRICK, STAFF WRITER

It's interesting to see how rock bands from the Sixties and Seventies have dealt with growing old. There are bands like Jefferson Starship, who have said on VH1 that they wouldn't tour again because, as Grace Slick put it, middle-aged rockers onstage look "pathetic."

There are bands like the Rolling Stones, who in many ways give credence to
Slick's philosophy.

Then there is Fleetwood Mac, playing tonight at Continental Arena.

Now, first off, I have to admit, I'm biased here. From the time I was a high school freshman, I had a picture of Stevie Nicks on the inside of my locker
door, dressed in her witch's costume and passionately belting out the crashing
finale of "Rhiannon."

"I don't like her," I remember a classmate saying, whenever he saw the picture. "She looks like a vampire or something."

My big brother, more the Led Zeppelin type and a drummer in a high school rock
band, didn't have much respect for my fanaticism either. Neither did his fellow
musicians. "I don't like them," I remember his band's lead singer telling me. "They're too pop."

My roommate, later in college, would immediate clarify to anyone he brought into our dorm room: "That's HIS, not mine," as he pointed to a Fleetwood Mac poster I had hanging up.

The band sold 15 million records, so why did I feel so alone? Was Nicks a little
too self-absorbed? Sure. But so was I. Was Buckingham a little too high-strung?
Sure. But so was I. Was McVie a little too indistinguishable? Sure. But so was I. To me, this was a band that reflected a little of all of us. This had men, and women. Brits, and Americans. Blondes and brunettes. This was an ensemble.

Nicks, in particular, always captivated me. It wasn't that I had fantasies about
her or anything. It was more the whole contradiction of this willowy, ethereal
goddess in dripping chiffon who would suddenly explode onstage, spinning,
ranting, and raving like a madwoman. In her darker days, there were moments you thought she might actually give herself an embolism from wailing so hard. I
always felt a sense of danger behind this tortured beauty. Sort of like Cinderella on crack.

But as the band declined through the Eighties and practically decomposed during most of the Nineties, even I began to question my faith. Stevie finally quit
her cocaine habit, but then got addicted to prescription drugs. She seemed tired, bored, and bloated. Her capes didn't fit her anymore. Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac altogether, and I couldn' t help but resent what seemed more and more to be his utter contempt for the band's fan base. His fans! People like me! Me, who stood up for them all these years!

Then came impending middle age. What is it about that transitional period from
the 40s into the 50s that snaps people out of it? Not just for rock stars. For
anyone. My parents, both heavy smokers, quit around that time of life. A
life-long bachelor I know got married.

In Stevie's case, it was kicking tranquilizers and losing a ton of weight. Lindsey, meanwhile, came to realize that being associated with Fleetwood Mac isn't something to be embarrassed about. Plus, he finally realized, he and Stevie together onstage are so much more magical than either one of them alone.

Looking and sounding great, the band reunited in 1997 for a reunion album and
tour that hit it big and put them back on the map. Even those who were cynical
changed their tune. "She must have made a deal with the Devil," said my brother, shocked by how good Nicks looked and sounded. A revamped "Landslide," which Nicks recorded back in 1975 and was never a single, was now all over the radio. A college- aged intern at my job talked of
how she loved the band's "goth" aura, as if she was discovering something cool and new. Even Madonna started wearing wispy black chiffon like Stevie for a while.

I felt so affirmed.

I'm not a person who roots for sports teams, or contestants on "American Idol." The closest thing I have to that is this. My team was back, playing better than ever.

And here they are once again, now well into their 50s. Sure, Christine McVie says she's retired and isn't part of this latest album and tour. She'll be back next time. You'll see. And OK, so Stevie's voice is a few octaves lower. So is
mine. So Lindsey tends to sweat more than Whitney Houston now, after a little
exertion. So do I.

Maybe that's OK. It's just part of the natural progression of getting older, after all. Some bands, just like some people, buckle under the weight of age and life's adversities. Others roll with the punches and try to age gracefully. They may not be what they were 20 years ago, but they make the best of it.

And some fans, like me, age with them.

But we never die.


Date: 2003-05-25         Number of views: 1247

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