Cleveland Plain Dealer Under the Skin Interview
Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic
When he hasn't been crafting hits with Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham has gone his own way on a series of endearingly quirky solo efforts. His latest album, the sublime "Under the Skin," distills the essence of his talents via stripped-down arrangements and soul-searching lyrics. The singer-guitarist, 57, checked in by cell phone recently from his tour bus, en route to a gig in Atlanta.
What prompted the no-frills approach on "Under the Skin"?
I had been interested in reducing elements, such as drums and bass. Initially, that came from how the song "Big Love" transitioned from an ensemble song in its original recorded version [on Fleetwood Mac's 1987 album "Tango in the Night"] to having me play it with a single guitar onstage. It got me thinking about how effective that was.
I'm pretty happy with the results. I mean, there was a certain amount of politicking that went on with the [record] label. I think when they first heard it, they probably would've liked to have heard something more quote-unquote normal [laughs], with a few more rock tunes and lead guitar and all of that.
How did you arrive at the aggressively rippling style of guitar playing showcased on the album?
It's not easy to talk about, because I've never had lessons and I don't read music. I think of myself as a refined primitive. I guess what got me into fingerpicking was folk music. Or maybe before that, it could've been Scotty Moore on the Elvis records. I played banjo for a while, too.
It probably just came from the idea that I was playing a lot of guitar, but I wasn't skillful with the pick. It seemed to me what I was doing was my own. It grew from there.
Certain classical influences, too, from listening to classical guitar -- they're all in there somewhere.
Some of your vocals have a hushed quality. Is this a function of being the father of three young children, perhaps working after they've gone to bed?
It came more from the sense that I wanted this music to feel very much like you were in your living room playing for somebody and there was an intimacy there. It wasn't meant to feel like rock 'n' roll for a large audience.
But becoming a father and a husband relatively late has a lot to do with some of the emotional tone of the music, for sure.
On "Not Too Late," you sing about feeling unseen and unheard.
I read a review of a Fleetwood Mac compilation in Rolling Stone. It mentioned me as an underappreciated visionary, something like that. And it made me think about what my motivations have been. Some of them have been quite noble, and maybe some of them haven't.
In certain circles, there is an appreciation of the fact that I produced those Fleetwood Mac records, although at the time the politics were such that I didn't get credit for it. So there was a tendency to feel there wasn't a lot of understanding of my contribution.
There was an obstacle, perceptionwise, for me to overcome.
"Not Too Late" is about examining how far you can go to try to define yourself for yourself and for others, in a very specific artistic way. At what point does it become inappropriate? And will you know it?
How will you divide your time between solo work and Fleetwood Mac in the future? Is there a five-year plan?
I have a bunch of electric [solo] stuff I want to do after this. Tom Whalley, the president at Warner Brothers, said, "If Fleetwood Mac comes knocking on your door, let 'em knock." Normally I'll try to think of the band as a priority. So it was nice to have someone encouraging me to carve out a reality for myself, not only with new recordings, but with touring, too. That's really my plan for the next year and a half or so. After that, Fleetwood Mac is going to sit down and figure out the rest of that five-year plan.
2006-10-20 Number of views: