Written by Tyler McCrudden-Hext
A band everyone has been exposed to at some time or another in their lives. Fleetwood Mac, in the 1970s, became one of the biggest bands in popular music history with their album Rumours (1977), the classic lineup consisting of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks. Fleetwood Mac has sold over 120 million records, spanning its 55 years. The band created epic classic rock, blues, and ear-pleasing adult contemporary hits over this period, however, they’re equally known for their behind-scenes lives, the highs, and the turmoils which both eclipsed and contrasted with the music they were producing.
Anything that could’ve happened to a band in the 1960s to the 1980s happened. With multiple lineup changes, affairs, bankruptcies, lavish overspending, and destructive drug problems, it’s amazing the band didn’t completely implode in its own hubris. With this, however, they produced music millions of people have adored. Listeners have been enchanted by the stories written in Stevie Nicks’ lyrics, the multilayered and exciting productions of Lindsey Buckingham, and the elegant compositions and lyrics of Christine McVie. Their catalog is diverse and I have the honor of sharing with you some of my favorites.
I am an unashamed Stevie Nicks super fan.
I have always been exposed to good music and media my entire life thanks to my mother Nicola and my grandfather Ronald, her father, so I’ve always been drawn to music from a wide range but always came back to anything mostly from the 70s and ’80s. In 2014, at the age of 17, I finally found my favorite musical artist and she has consumed my thoughts ever since. I have become synonymous with Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac with everyone in my life who knows me even a little bit. I have learned everything there is to know about Stevie Nicks, and subsequently Fleetwood Mac. I have listened to songs from every era and love pretty much their entire discography.
My sister Amber-Jade approached me to make a list. I didn’t want this to be a too obvious list. I love Songbird, Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way, Little Lies and so many other hit songs, but as someone who knows their discography more intimately than most I’d rather share songs you may not know or that need a bit more spotlighting. So I’m avoiding major hits on this list as best I can. Music is subjective but I hope anyone reading this list will find a song that they love just as much as me.
#10. I Loved Another Woman (Fleetwood Mac, 1968)
The blueprint for future members to come
Fleetwood Mac formed in London, in 1967 during the blues boom. The lineup of this time consisted of Fleetwood, J. McVie, Jeremy Spencer, and their secret weapon Peter Green, a major contender for greatest guitarists of all time. Green headed up most of the writing of this era and was the front man. Hits included Oh Well, Green Manalishi, and Black Magic Woman, which is a blues classic.
This era isn’t my favorite but I respect it, which is why I’m always going back to it, you can see the foundations and styles being set even before the move to America. I Have Loved Another Woman, to me is this. It’s hauntingly blues and displays intoxicating storytelling, Green’s voice narrating, pulling you in. This song on that first album set the template for the era like Black Magic Woman and even inspires later-era songs like Rhiannon and Sisters of the Moon.
#9. In the Back of My Mind (Behind the Mask, 1990)
‘The Chain’ of this era.
We all know the band was famous for its lineup changes, and it seemed to have come to an end when Folk Rock duo Buckingham-Nicks joined in 1975. After the recording and release of Tango in the Night in 1987, Fleetwood Mac had seen its biggest success since Rumours 10 years prior. All seemed good in the band, but when the band went to tour this success, an exhausted Lindsey Buckingham did not want to go, this led to a string of arguments ending in him being fired from the band.
A testimony to Buckingham’s skill and stage presence it took two people to replace him. Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. Just because they had big shoes to fill didn’t mean they weren’t skilled and talented in their own right. After the 1988 Shake the Cage tour and year away from each other the now six piece band recorded Behind the Mask. This fared well, much better in the UK than in the US, entering the top 10.
The Chain is a song that represents The Mac as a whole career but, on every album there are songs that have one song that’s the culmination of all the members of the band. My initial choice was World Turning (Fleetwood Mac, 1975) but this one is the one that screamed the most at me. Written by Burnette, backed with dark mysterious music it’s interesting and different for the band, something a little more conceptual. I’d describe the song as an experience, hearing all the members show off their instruments and featuring vocals from all of them.
#8. I Know I’m Not Wrong (Tusk, 1979)
Rumours took the the world by storm, became one of the highest-selling albums of all time while in the background the band was at constant war with each other, but still created an album of classic music.
How were they to follow up this success?
They got experimental, well Lindsey did what Lindsey does. He took the helm on the production of the follow-up album ‘Tusk’ this was an expensive album, no expenses were too much. Marching bands, massive tour, double album, lots of the modern ways of recording music. This was an expensive album and experimental album, closer to a Lindsey Buckingham passion project. This album contains 5 Christine McVie songs, 5 Stevie Nicks songs and 10 Lindsey Buckingham songs. Buckingham’s songs were the most out there setting the tone for the album.
Lindsey’s songs are to me the weakest on the album. Stevie Nicks’ and Christine McVie’s tracks are more what I consider Fleetwood Mac, however, one track of Buckingham’s did eventually growl me.
I Know I’m Not Wrong was one of the last tracks recorded for Tusk, so it has all the hallmarks and experimental sounds that came to be known with the album without feeling pretentious. The harmonica is very infectious, it’s the funnest song on Tusk.
#7. Without You (Extended Play, 2013)
A look back to where it all started for Buckingham Nicks
In 2013 Fleetwood Mac as a four-piece was gearing up for another world tour after the success of the 2009 unleashed tour. The fans also hadn’t seen any new music in a decade, so having an EP released was a breath of fresh air. Without You was a demo from the early 70s recorded when Buckingham-Nicks were creating their first album and this demo had been circulating around the fan circle for years. It was a pleasant surprise to hear Buckingham-Nicks go back to their roots and was a real treat for the fans.
As a song itself, it’s very sweet. It’s a love song for a long-time partner. I’d say it’s Nicks’ most obvious love song. No metaphors or abstract Ideas, just her telling you she wouldn’t be the same without you. The harmonies are akin to their early years as a duo and it’s a delicacy for the ear.
#6. Show Me a Smile (Future Games, 1971)/ Never Forget (Tusk, 1979)/ Wish You Were Here (Mirage, 1982)
The perfect endings.
Future Games was an album that began to see more of a contemporary pop style for the time. Influences were seen from American Guitarist Bob Welch joining the band. More crucially this was the first album to feature Christine McVie as a full member of the band.
Stevie Nicks is probably the most popular member of the band for the whole package, writer, singer, fashion, and personality, McVie was the quiet one in the back playing with the lads but undoubtedly produced Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits. It’s her non-single work however I’ve always been pulled to with her dreamy seductive tones.
A good example is Songbird and Oh Daddy but this first release with the band is one of the most beautiful songs she’s written. When she closes an album it’s the perfect bookend leaving the listener soothed and refreshed. Show Me a Smile, Never Forget and Wish You Were Here are the epitome of an album closer but also worth a listen on their own for a relaxing soothing experience.
#5. Storms (Tusk, 1979)/ Beautiful Child (Tusk, 1979)
Stevie Nicks’s most beautiful songs.
Nicks is known for her title as the queen of rock n roll, she earned this with rock hits such as Rhiannon, Edge of Seventeen and Stand Back. Her witchy persona, lyrics and Rock vocals are what make her stand out in the band but as we know with Dreams and Landslide she has a softer side which is also appealing. Hidden on these records are songs that are much slower, more pensive and show the much more venerable side to Nicks. These two songs on the Tusk are her most beautiful and remind us she is a powerhouse of a lyricist. These songs are personal to me too and I’ve spent time and tears with them.
Never have I been a blue calm sea, I have always been a storm
Unlike the rest on this list, I haven’t attached the studio versions. I have selected two of the highest quality and strongest live performances as the beauty and messages hit much deeper with Nicks’ aged vocals.
#4. Say You Will (2003)
Not a single bad song
Now hear me out. I understand this is cheeky but if I’m focusing more on songs that generally people might not know or hear often, I’m still choosing my favorites, the list then would be dominated by this album. Say You Will was the last full album released by Fleetwood Mac, it’s also my favourite. Despite its glaringly obvious absence of Christine McVie who would usually balance out Buckingham-Nicks the album still works giving Nicks more space to breath. Some could say it’s like a Buckingham and Nicks solo outing put together in the best way possible.
30 years on from the release of Buckingham Nicks in 1973, they taken all they’ve learnt and poured it into this album. Lindsey Buckingham is a visionary of a producer when it comes to Fleetwood Mac. Experimental but with a then modern feel, every song sounds crisp and comes hitting out of the gate, and if you ask me some of Nicks’ most strongest vocal performances. Buckingham has probably the most Rock song on this album Fleetwood Mac have ever put out with Come. Buckingham’s guitar work in this outing is the reminder that he is one of the true greats when it comes to the guitar. There isn’t many albums I can sit there and say there isn’t a single bad song on the record, and that’s quite and impressive feat, even more considering it has 18 songs.
Other stand-out songs; What’s the World Coming To, Thrown Down, Smile at You, Running Through the Garden, Everybody Finds Out, Destiny Rules, Say Goodbye, and Goodbye Baby.
#3. Silver Springs (The Dance. 1997)
You’ll never get away from the sounds of the woman that loves you
Silver Springs is the best song on Rumours which is ironic considering it was cut from the record. It was released as a B-side to the Go Your Own Way single, so it wasn’t completely lost, Rumours is still one of the best selling records of all time without this song on the main track list. It’s been on the record that Nicks was disappointed with the cutting of the song, but there just wasn’t the space.
In 1997 after a couple of years of no activity the ‘Rumours five’ reunited, this was huge. Buckingham had been out of the band for 10 years at this point, Nicks for 5 and McVie for 2. Rejoining the Bands name sake John McVie and Mick Fleetwood with a live album and film. This was to heavily feature Silver Springs as a single. This is Fleetwood Mac best performance you’ll ever see. 20 years after their break up, Nicks sings with passion in her eyes to Buckingham reminding us of the personal aspects of the band we all love so much.
#2. All Over Again (Time, 1995)
Christine McVie’s love letter to Fleetwood Mac.
When Stevie Nicks left the band in 1992 all seemed uncertain. Fleetwood Mac does what they do best to fill the gaps. Rick Vito also parted with the band at this time leaving the lineup; Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Billy Burnette, Bekka Bramlett, and Dave Mason. This was not a successful era for the band, it really seemed this was to be the end.
My late grandfather actually saw them on this tour and said it was awful. Even I’m not fond of this lineup, it’s just not that great. Christine McVie technically retired from the band in 1990 but was begged to appear on this album, however she did not tour it. “Time” is a weak album, carried entirely on the back of McVie’s five songs.
There is one shining moment from this album in All Over Again. This song’s message is clear, it’s McVie reflecting on her time in Fleetwood Mac and firmly saying goodbye to the band. Even referencing The Chain to really hit home she’s left the band “and finally break the chain”. This is my favorite song written by Christine McVie its lyrics have been “us” at one point or another. I sent colleagues this song when I was leaving my last job. It speaks volumes.
#1. Paper Doll (25 Years – The Chain, 1992)
infectious and fun.
My favorite song changes all the time, at the current time of writing this article, the song I have on repeat is Paper Doll from the 25th-anniversary collection. Similar to my actual favorite Fleetwood Mac song Everywhere from Tango in the Night, this song is infectiously upbeat and fun with international musical influences such as the drum beats and strong vocal harmonies. When listening to this track you can almost hear Stevie Nicks smiling while she sings. It’s light and just a joy to listen to, try and not get caught up in its atmosphere and tap along to the beat.
You can listen to the whole playlist over on my Spotify.