Sun Sentinel (06/07/2003), Fleetwood Mac, Act III
Sun Sentinel, June 7, 2003
Fleetwood Mac, Act III
By Glenn Gamboa, music correspondent
Lindsey Buckingham smiles as he considers how his successful yet storm-tossed days with his fellow stars in the rock 'n' roll soap opera known as Fleetwood Mac have changed over the years.
"Well, it still feels like an opera -- it's certainly got an operatic proportion to it," he says. "But the soap's all gone, I guess. I hope."
"That's very good," Mick Fleetwood says, leaning across the couch to give Buckingham a hearty slap on the back. "I'm going to use that."
"Stevie [Nicks] and I are learning to be different people to each other -- it's all good," Buckingham continues. "There's still a great deal of love between all of us -- maybe more real love than ever, because before it was pushed down by other things, by competitiveness, by the lifestyles we were living in the '70s and '80s as a microcosm of the music industry, and other outside forces. Now, it's very close to the surface. You could get any one of us to break down in tears if you said the right thing."
Perhaps a discussion of Say You Will is in order?
"That was it," Buckingham says, pretending to burst into tears, as Fleetwood consoles him -- one of many examples during a recent afternoon in a midtown Manhattan hotel suite that shows the partnership the duo rekindled in the past few years stretches beyond music.
"I feel like we're in Act III of this incredible drama," Buckingham says, after a pause.
(The group is currently on a national tour, scheduled Saturday at Sunrise's Office Depot Center.) As any Behind the Music aficionado knows, third acts are few and far between in rock 'n' roll. Fleetwood Mac, however, has never been like other bands.
Its remarkable Act I started with the odd merger of the original Fleetwood Mac, a British blues-rock band featuring drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and his singer-keyboardist wife, Christine McVie, and Buckingham Nicks, a California rock duo (on and off the stage) of singer-guitarist Buckingham and singer Nicks. The resulting rock conglomerate grew to dominate the music industry in the late '70s with 1977's Rumours, still one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, and a string of such classic hits as Rhiannon, Don't Stop and Go Your Own Way, showing off the band's triple threat of singers. As the band built its musical success, though, the personal lives of its members were falling apart -- with both couples breaking up and personal relationships strained all around as they each pursued solo projects.
By 1987, Act II had begun, with Buckingham leaving Fleetwood Mac after the recording of the Tango in the Night album, then Nicks leaving after 1990's Behind the Mask as the band's popularity declined and personal relationships grew even tenser. Buckingham didn't speak to the other members for years. In 1993, however, after Bill Clinton's successful presidential campaign asked the band to perform his election theme, Don't Stop, at an inaugural celebration, the band was thrown together -- only to go their separate ways again. In 1997, they reconvened for an MTV Unplugged performance and a full-fledged tour, which included the recording of the live album The Dance.
Fleetwood Mac unknowingly moved into Act III in 2000, during sessions for what was, at the time, a Buckingham solo album. "Mick and I got together and we went in and cut these tracks -- really just the two of us," Buckingham says. "We were in there just bashing away. At that point, Time Warner had just been bought by AOL, so people there that I knew weren't going to be there very long. And they didn't like my record anyway."
Although it's hard to believe that record execs didn't see any potential in the haunting Peacekeeper, the band's current single, or the lovely Steal Your Heart Away, Buckingham and Fleetwood did. The experience led Buckingham to write the gorgeous complaint What's the World Coming To? with the lines, "I don't say what they want/I don't do what they say/So I'm on their list/So I'm gone I guess."
While they waited for a friendlier reception, John McVie had come in and played on the tracks and there was talk about approaching Nicks and turning Buckingham's solo album into a new Fleetwood Mac album.
"I figured that things will either be great or there will be a new regime in, and they will like the new songs," Buckingham says.
Nicks, who was on a tour at the time, liked the idea and sent over a dozen or so songs for Buckingham, Fleetwood and McVie to work on. The result of this merger was Say You Will, which feels like something new.
"It's not just treading water and taking the easy route," Fleetwood says. "Without Christine [McVie, who opted to remain in retirement instead of rejoining the band for the new album], this is a new chapter in this band's history in no uncertain terms."
As Buckingham begins talking about how Say You Will is the result of the band's collective will, Fleetwood interrupts him, saying, "Lindsey is being a bit humble here. We couldn't have done this without Lindsey doing what he did. All the things he learned in his time away from the band helped us get here. That's how it came about. Lindsey had a vision."
Buckingham says he needed to leave Fleetwood Mac to grow as an artist and as a person. ("I also needed to get closure about breaking up with Stevie," he adds.) With Say You Will, Buckingham feels like he has a fresh start. "I felt like completing this project was vindication for going away," he says.
Nicks may sum up the situation best in Thrown Down, one of the many future singles that will no doubt keep Say You Will near the top of the album charts for quite some time. "Maybe now he could prove to her that he could be good for her/That they should be together," sings Nicks, who has admitted that the song is, in part, about Buckingham. "You say you're sorry/ Now you should walk away, but it's so overwhelming."
Buckingham and Fleetwood both say they are amazed at how well things in Act III are going.
"We could never have planned this," Buckingham says. "We've never been a band to be blasť about exploiting what's out there for us. Destiny funneled all of us into this spot. It was meant to be."
Thanks to tamaraluvsfm for posting this to the Ledge.
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