Rumours at 38


This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

It’s been 38 years since Fleetwood Mac’s iconic album Rumours was released. It was a runaway success, both critically and commercially. A few quick stats: it was the number one album for  31 weeks. It remains the tenth best-selling album worldwide. It has secured spots on so many greatest albums of all time lists that it would be impossible to recount them all here.

Most importantly, 38 years later, it’s still relevant. At number 157 on the iTunes top albums chart alone, Rumours ranks ahead of contemporary best-sellers like Beyonce and Taylor Swift.

What more could I possibly add to the conversation that hasn’t already been written? The volume of articles, essays, think pieces, interviews, and memoirs about the album over the past 38 years could fill a library. Really, what could I add?

I won’t wax philosophical about the sonic elements. I won’t gush my deepest appreciation for the songwriting. I won’t bore you with the overused “musical soap opera” analogies or talk about the drugs. That’s all been said — many times.

What I will leave you to think about is the feeling, the way music can capture you, the way it finds a spot in your soul and stays there. Sometimes it’s a forceful grab, but not always. Sometimes it’s a slow pull, a quiet seduction. Rumours has found a place in so many souls because it manages to do both.

Music does not stay relevant for 38 years, does not resonate with multiple generations, or fail to tire and bore you, simply because it sounds good. Of course, sound matters. Sound is important, but it goes deeper than that.

It’s how the music makes you feel. It’s how certain music articulates what is inside you in a way you aren’t capable of doing yourself; it’s how you are able to identify with the emotion behind the sound. Bill Clinton didn’t choose “Don’t Stop” as a presidential campaign song because it sounded good; he chose it because it invokes a feeling of confidence and hopefulness that is difficult to shake.

A great deal of the staying power of Rumours is in its sound, of course, but it is also in the human touches. It’s in the way tears burn in your eyes whenever you hear “Songbird,” the way anxiety and desperation claw at your insides during “The Chain.” Rumours still matters because after all these years, “Gold Dust Woman” still gives us chills and “Go Your Own Way” still sends a shock of both self pride and resentment through our nervous systems.

That is why we still listen to Rumours. Because Rumours is not just generic pop rock; it’s personal. Because Rumours captured the rare lightning strike of great sound and raw emotion. Because when we listen to Rumours, we don’t just listen to it. We feel it.

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