Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Mac

Download: Fleetwood Mac--"What Makes You Think You're The One"
Download: Fleetwood Mac--"Farmer's Daughter" (Beach Boys cover)

When people talk Fleetwood Mac (and in Athens, GA, that's quite a bit), they usually fall back on the same worn out talking points:
  • Lindsay Buckingham doesn't use a pick
  • Stevie Nicks will die if she does coke again
  • Rumours is the best; Tusk was a flop
  • Stevie Nicks had a roadie blow coke up her butt (I still don't believe this one)
  • "Oh Daddy" really creeps me out
  • They did a lot of coke
And so on...

One thing that never really gets brought up in these conversations is how damned strange the band was. Specifically, in what parallel universe did Tusk come from? How many bands follow up one of the biggest selling albums of all time (Rumours) with a disjointed, coke-fueled fever dream, whose lead Stevie Nicks single was nearly nine minutes long? How was the song "Tusk" even a hit (my friend, Julie, says that it sounds like "your parents having sex")? I'm not gonna compare Tusk to The White Album or anything (Christine's never-ending odes to romance sorta hold it back), BUT I will say that it falls in line with a lot of the late 60s Beach Boys experimental pop, the stuff that Lindsay so obviously adores. It's like Sunflower or Friends: all over the place and all the better for it.

I'm not here to be the fifty-thousandth person to tell you Tusk is underrated...I think by now it falls into that category of Overhyped Underrated Records that also includes Pinkerton and Wowee Zowee. I'm just saying that Fleetwood Mac could easily have been the Eagles but chose not to.

Listen to the drums on "What Makes You Think You're The One". I believe that Lindsay once said it was his favorite drum part ever, and I'm inclined to agree with him. I've covered this in a band before and there's a crazy logic to it, even though I bet Mick just bashed it out in two takes. I don't even think the ladies make an appearance on this one. It's just Mick, Lindsay, and John (probably coked out of their minds) sitting in Lindsay's living room bashing out this simple song with insane drums. Without them, it would just be another chord progression. And the lyrics...they're so mean.

And "Farmer's Daughter" is a Beach Boys cover. It's from the bonus tracks of the Tusk reissue and the group's late 70s live album that you don't hear much about (can't say I've ever heard it myself). They recorded it live backstage somewhere, and it's proof that they could just sing. Period. It's one of those songs that will silence a room if people start paying attention, just suck the sound right out of it. I've seen it happen a number of times, everybody just closing their eyes--even at the rowdiest of parties--and listening. It's nice.


lindsay b said...

it was her vagina..not her butt.

Shil K. Patel said...

those guys did a lot of coke.

revSancho said...

a lot of coke.

Anonymous said...

It's spelled LindsEy. Lindsey is a dude. LindsAy is a chick.

Anonymous said...

the coke butt thing is an urban myth.
it never happened and is medically "worthless" according to a doctor friend of mine.

the band did cocaine, but not anymore then any other big band of the day in the late 70's.
when i think of FM, i think of incredibly unique music.
it's hard to think of great radio from that time without them. i also think they made some phenomenal records, most of which were wildly uncommercial sounding. it's amazing that the mainstream was able to buy into their sound.
on a good night, i can't think of too many other bands that delivered such a force on stage.
possibly led zeppelin, the who, or the e-street band. but none of those outfits had the unique odd singular sound that fleetwood mac had. they all relied too much on their influences.

Jennette said...

wow, i couldnt disagree more about your thoughts on tusk. I think its a great album minus about 2-3 songs. In fact, i'd rather listen to it than rumours, mostly because i've listened to all the songs on rumours too much. Some of my favorite songs come from tusk, including storms, over and over, honey hi, never make me cry, etc.. Have you only listened to the radio single -- tusk (which i don't particularly care for but its ok)
and shaped your opinion based on that?

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