My mom retreated to her bedroom to unearth a classic rock album from her 1970s era vinyl collection.
She flipped through the dusty Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon and Eagles albums to locate Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.”
There it was. The original copy she had purchased when I was a baby.
She quickly grabbed the album and brought it downstairs to play during a family listening party one night in April 1987. She plopped the album down on my grandma’s large wooden stereo system, which featured a 1972 era record player inside and was adorned with large golden knobs.
My brother, Steve, and I requested the listening party after picking up a copy of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango in the Night.” We wanted to hear the band’s mega hit album from a decade earlier in its entirety.
From the moment the needle hit the record, I was surprised at how many songs I recognized from the album – “Dreams,” “Go Your Own Way, “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun.”
Those hit singles were staples on the 1970s soft rock stations my mom listened to while riding in the car or doing work around the house. They repeatedly played in the background of my childhood for nearly a decade before I noticed them.
Then, at age 10, those songs clicked. I loved the entire album and realized I was developing a strong infatuation with Fleetwood Mac’s music. I slowly added “Rumours” and the entire catalog of Fleetwood Mac albums, including the Peter Green and Bob Welch era gems, to my record and tape collection.
Thirty years later, that infatuation still lives on. Amongst my family and friends, I’m known for two things – my incessant concertgoing and my love of Fleetwood Mac.
In honor of the album’s 40th anniversary, here’s my take on the “Rumours” track list. I’m referring to the “Silver Springs” version of “Rumours.” For me, that’s the real version.
- “Second Hand News” – The album’s opening track features Lindsey Buckingham hearing second hand about his relationship ending with Stevie Nicks. I picture Buckingham angrily strumming his guitar to vent his frustration about Nicks and the demise of their relationship.
- “Dreams” – Nicks’ most famous breakup ode to Buckingham. It’s rumored she wrote this song in response to Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way.” This is the only No. 1 single Fleetwood Mac received during the Buckingham-Nicks era, and it served as the anthem to the band’s personal breakups while making the album. In the 2013 reissue of “Rumours,” Buckingham wrote, “We were opposites who had attracted, and we brought out great things in one another.”
- “Never Going Back Again” – Buckingham’s acoustic promise to never revisit his relationship with Nicks. I love the live version Buckingham plays today on Fleetwood Mac tours. He sings about having “been down not one or two times, but three times” and vows to never go back again. It’s Buckingham’s “Landslide.”
- “Don’t Stop” – Christine McVie wrote this song for John McVie during their divorce. I’ve read she wrote the song to fuel John with optimism after their seven-year marriage ended during the making of “Rumours.” This song also served as President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign anthem and ranks as one of the most uplifting songs of all time. It’s my go-to song when I need to get through a tough time.
- “Go Your Own Way” – Buckingham’s response to the breakup with Nicks. This track brims with classic Buckingham guitar solos as he angrily sings about calling it “another lonely day” and “packing up/shacking up is all you want to do.” In the 2013 “Rumours” reissue, Nicks wrote, “So then I wrote ‘Dreams’, and because I’m the chiffony chick who believes in fairies and angels, Lindsey is the hardcore guy, it comes out differently.” Fleetwood Mac plays this song toward their end of their setlist during each tour. It’s an encore before the encore.
- “Songbird” – Mick Fleetwood said he used to join John McVie on the side of the stage to watch Christine McVie perform the song during the band’s encore. They both had tears in their eyes hearing her sing it each night. Fittingly, the song was recorded at the Berkeley Community Theater, according to Ken Caillat in his 2012 memoir, “Making Rumours.” For me, it’s the perfect ending to a Fleetwood Mac concert.
- “Silver Springs” – My favorite track that initially got away. Thanks to 1997’s “The Dance,” Fleetwood Mac resurrected this hidden Nicks classic to celebrate “Rumours’” 20th I first heard this song as a B-side to the “Go Your Own Way” single when I was 11. I think the sound of Nicks’ voice will always haunt Buckingham and me.
- “The Chain” – Originally called “Keep Me There,” this Fleetwood Mac anthem kicks off most of the band’s live shows. I eagerly await the sound of Fleetwood’s foot pounding the bass drum before the arena lights up. “The Chain” is the only song from the Buckingham-Nicks era that was written by all five members. It’s a testament to the band’s commitment to staying together despite the emotional turmoil.
- “You Make Loving Fun”—Like “Don’t Stop,” this Christine McVie track uplifts the heartbreak on the album and reminds the other members to keep their chins up. “And she was joyous and happy, and that was great because the rest of us tended to be a little dark,” Nicks wrote in the 2013 “Rumours” reissue. It’s also rumoured Christine McVie wrote the track about her budding romance with Curry Grant, the band’s lighting director.
- “I Don’t Want to Know” – Nicks and Buckingham wrote this song before they joined the band. The other four members used this song in place of “Silver Springs,” since it wasn’t as long. That decision didn’t sit well with Nicks. “That always put a shadow over “I Don’t Want to Know” unfortunately – even though I love it and it came out great,” Nicks wrote in the 2013 “Rumours” reissue.
- “Oh Daddy” – Some claim Christine McVie wrote it as an ode to Fleetwood for being the band’s leader and manager. Others say she dedicated it to the insanity of the music business and the band. Either way, this is the only dark Christine McVie track on the album. Nicks claims its one of her favorite Christine McVie songs of all time.
- “Gold Dust Woman” – Nicks’ mystical image comes alive in this closing track. On stage, Nicks wears her famous gold shawl to transform into a gold dust woman before the audience. It’s her other persona besides “Rhiannon” that captures excitement, energy and awe from the crowd. Some think the song is about drugs, but Nicks claims it’s about a street in Phoenix called Gold Dust Avenue.
Like Nicks, I’m going to keep rocking on as a gold dust woman and realizing things do get better with age. After listening to this album for three decades, I still hold a special appreciation for it because it’s authentic, raw and honest.
That’s my take on Fleetwood Mac’s classic album. What’s yours?
3 thoughts on “‘Rumours’ – Fleetwood Mac’s Blockbuster Album Doesn’t Stop 40 Years Later”
Great write-up, L!
I didn’t realize how much this album was about “them” specifically…though I shouldn’t be surprised.
With your input, I’m hearing it with fresh ears…