when you weren’t going to write a buckingham mcvie hot take, but the internet asked you to…

This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs (prompted by two anonymous asks and a couple of tweet requests)

Anonymous said: Buckingham McVie has been out for a full day and you’ve been MIA with a think piece! Could you please share your thoughts on In My World? I’m very interested to know what you think about it.

Here you go:

This is what it sounds like when things fall apart. This is the moment of realization, the wistful, liminal moment between doubt and acceptance. This is the sound of nostalgia, the sound of growing older and growing apart. This is the sound of understanding that not everything can always stay how it used to be.

“In My World” marks a strong return of the older and more contemplative Lindsey Buckingham that has emerged in recent years. He’s less bitter, more introspective. There’s a sense that Buckingham has begun to play archaeologist of his own life, digging into his past, trying to understand what it says about his present, and it’s clearly at play here.

Though it’s an odd choice to introduce a “duets” album with such a solo-leaning first single, three out of four other Fleetwood Mac members leave distinguishable marks on the track. The McVies are used delicately: a tickle on the keys from Christine here and there, noticeable only if you listen closely, John’s bassline pointed and spare. There’s no embellishment for the sake of embellishment; they play only what’s needed, but continuously push the song forward with a feeling of underlying anxiety. Mick Fleetwood’s chugging drums take what could be a soft and tender acoustic tune and give it a bite — with all anguish there is an underlying feeling of resentment.

Maybe we’re lost without the cost of who we used to be.

Joan Didion once wrote that we are all best advised to keep on nodding terms with who we used to be. Some, it seems, are more adept at that than others. Some become lost in the spectacle of the now when they lose touch of the unassuming then. At some point, the road splits, and the further two people drift down their respective paths, the more difficult it will be to coexist in the same sphere. Maybe, then, it’s best for both people to finally admit the need to retreat into their own individual worlds, though that’s not without reluctance.

It may seem obvious to interpret some of the song as a pointed message at Stevie Nicks, but it wouldn’t be obvious if the two didn’t make it so, well, obvious. After more than 40 years of creating public dialogues, of communicating with each other through song, this is to be expected. The elephant in the room is being addressed right away: Buckingham McVie is essentially Fleetwood Mac, just without Nicks, and what do they have to say for that?

It’s been 14 years — to the day — since Fleetwood Mac’s last full length album. These past 14 years have been a game of will-they-or-won’t-they record a follow-up, with the verdict riding on Nicks’s agreement. For 14 years, save for a four song EP in 2013, Nicks has gone back and forth in the press, one day confirming her involvement, the next denying it, until a March 2017 interview with Rolling Stone seemed to make the most definitive statement:

I don’t think we’ll do another record. If the music business were different, I might feel different. I don’t think there’s any reason to spend a year and an amazing amount of money on a record that, even if it has great things, isn’t going to sell. What we do is go on the road, do a ton of shows and make lots of money. We have a lot of fun. Making a record isn’t all that much fun.

In my world, everybody stays, nobody wishes for words they couldn’t say.

You can’t have one foot in the door and one foot out. You’re in the band or you’re not. Buckingham gave the ultimatum to Christine McVie when she left the band in 1998. It wouldn’t be out of the question to assume he gave a similar one to Nicks, though that’s not to say that finding the words to do so was easy.

Even the grandest of disagreements can’t erase their 50 years of shared history. Buckingham’s animosity is laced with sadness. There’s a sense of longing, almost, that he could still fix things, that things could be the same as they were all those years ago, that it didn’t have to come to this. But people grow up and grow apart and things change and no matter how much we try or wish or dream about our own fantasy worlds, we have to move on, have to admit that we will never be the same as we were.

Sonically, “In My World” recalls the sound of Tango in the Night, from the usage of the “oohs” and “ahhs” prevalent on “Big Love,” to the glossy production, almost as if to give the darkness a sheen. Out of pain comes something of beauty. It’s sparse, though, full of space between the drums and simple guitar melody. That almost empty feeling would make sense in a solo composition — I can only envision it getting a quietly powerful acoustic performance similar to “Shut Us Down” — but as Fleetwood Mac-lite, it feels unfinished. Its incompleteness is most tellingly and painfully noticeable in the absence of the lush three part harmonies that have become synonymous with the classic Mac lineup. Perhaps this is deliberate: as much as it’s a song about letting go, there is still space; it’s still open to the possibility of another voice filling that empty spot.

At the end of the day, though, that feels like nothing more than wishful thinking, the lingering reluctance to let go and move on in a song about letting go and moving on. This is what it sounds like when things fall apart and you realize that, for your own sake, you cannot keep trying to put them back together.

Rock On, Gold Dust Woman

gdw1 gdw2

This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

In 1981, Nicks joined former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch at the Roxy in LA for a taped concert where, accompanied by Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood, she put on an electric performance of “Gold Dust Woman.” It’s a captivating performance: energetic, slightly aggressive. Gone are the leotards and flowing chiffon, replaced with a miniskirt, button down blouse, and legwarmers. Nicks is more fun-loving rock and roll than mysterious and witchy as she dances around the stage shaking her tambourine and mimicks Fleetwood’s bongo playing.

At the end of the song, Nicks thanks the crowd, telling them with genuine shock and appreciation, “They never let me play ‘Gold Dust Woman’ that long, ever!” The performance was just over 7 minutes, roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds longer than the studio version featured on Rumours.

Cut to 2013. Nicks reprises the classic track for Fleetwood Mac’s 2013 world tour, bringing with it the first bits of what will come to be known as the “Crackhead Dance.” It’s a brief moment of interpretive dance where Nicks sways and staggers as the rest of the group jams behind her. This is only the beginning.

When the Mac regrouped with Christine McVie in 2014 to embark on their current On With The Show tour, the Crackhead Dance began to take on a life of its own. The dance has extended to span two to three minutes. Nicks bangs her head, waves her arms wildly above her, doubles over and shakes her entire body as if she’s being exorcised. Often, Nicks becomes taken by adrenaline and pushes herself to the point of physical pain.

“It’s like I could twist my head right off my body. […] And I really hurt my back. I need ice every single morning when I wake up. I go ‘You gold-dusted out last night,’” she told Rolling Stone in 2015.

It’s dark. Heavy. Transfixing. But most of all, it’s self-indulgent. Nicks isn’t only portraying the terrifying hypnotism of just any drug addict witnessed second-hand; in a way, she’s portraying herself. When she’s shaking on stage like a mild seizure, she’s releasing her past demons, setting them free before returning to the woman she has become.

Today’s “Gold Dust Woman” spans an average of 11 minutes. Each time that I’ve witnessed it live, I think back to that 1981 performance and how one song — and one woman — can evolve so much over time.

“Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby – you should see me now,” Nicks now coos in the coda. If only that 1981 Nicks could see herself now. She’s older. Wiser. Sober. More confident. She’s no longer thanking people for allowing her to stretch a song to such lengths, surprised that her bandmates have acquiesced. She gets on stage every night and shimmies to her heart’s desire, a force to be reckoned with.

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac at the Prudential Center (Newark, NJ)


This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.
Concert photo gallery here. Additional images and video here.

Follow my 2014-2015 Fleetwood Mac groupie adventures here.

I wanted to write something eloquent and concise for everyone to sum up what is likely to be my final Fleetwood Mac concert of this tour. This isn’t quite either, but I’m still trying to gather my thoughts and it’s the best I can do.

A lot of people have been asking me how I’ve done it. How have I gone to so many shows (5!), and how have I gotten to the third row once, and to the front twice. A lot of is adopting a carpe diem attitude and credit card bills. A lot of it is accepting nosebleed seats, because just being in the same room is enough. A lot of it is luck — my Washington D.C. show and this past show in Newark were because my dear friends (Noel and Krissy) had extra tickets. Luck of knowing people who know how to get to the front. Luck of getting there yourself.

A lot of it is confidence, which I have never really have an abundance of, but I’ve found lately that I’ve been faking it much better. What can I say? I learned from Stevie: “When we walk into the room, we have to walk in with a big attitude. Which does not mean a snotty conceited attitude. But it means like we have to float in like goddesses, because that is how we want to be treated.”

When I blew past security last night with Krissy and Cathy, that’s exactly what I did. We had tickets in two different sections on the side, but we walked right down to the floor without looking back. I won’t go into detail on how we got to the front, because there is enough controversy surrounding this practice or “policy” as there is. What I will say is this: We got taken up to the front because we had confidence. We knew we belonged up there.

As far as the concert review goes, I really can’t delve deeply into it. I can’t be as objective as I wish I could be, because, frankly, it was overwhelming. I can say that, musically, two weeks ago at Madison Square Garden was better, though not much more so. Newark wasn’t bad, it was just different. Lindsey hammed it up more last night; “Gold Dust Woman,” though still a mind blowing experience, was not nearly as intense. “Tusk” dragged a little.

The hardest part of writing about last night is trying to explain how it was the most emotionally raw I have ever seen Fleetwood Mac, have ever seen any performers so close, actually. How it felt several times like unintentionally intruding on private moments. How it felt like I should apologize for invading their privacy, close the door, and creep away. And it’s hard to describe to anyone who wasn’t there or who hasn’t experienced a similar event.

Towards the beginning, something felt a little off. From my vantage point, it seemed like Stevie’s exuberance was a little phoned in, like their energy levels were dipping, but I brushed it off. I was at concerts in the fall that fell on the second or third day in a string of dates, concerts where the dynamic between Lindsey and Stevie was cold and distant, where it was too easy to tell they were mad. “They’re just tired,” I thought.

But during the acoustic set, things changed — fast. First, Stevie choked up during the introduction to “Landslide,” which was dedicated to Matthew Anderson, someone named Andrea (?), and Robin. Cause for emotion: check. But I remembered being there for her previous introduction to her late best friend and godson, and it just wasn’t the same. At the end, Krissy, who was nearer to her than I, leaned across the crowd and shouted: “She was crying. Did you see? She was crying.”

The tears continued into “Never Going Back Again.” By then I could see. They aren’t as clear in my low-res iPhone video, but you can hear it in her voice. The struggle to make it through. When it was over, she wiped her eyes and shook her head, her hair covering her face. She stood with her head down, turned away from the crowd, in front of Mick’s drum set as techs brought out the mini drum kit and everyone moved around her. No one consoled her, and she didn’t budge until the lights came up and “Over My Head” began.

The rest of the show went on with little pause for concern. Until the encores. Buckingham Nicks walked out hand in hand, the grip a little tighter than usual, as if one were clinging to the other for support. Suddenly, Lindsey pulled Stevie into a slow dance, which she quickly refuted. Things were definitely different, confusing, even.

“Silver Springs” was intense, to say the least. As it picked up, again, tears glistened on Stevie’s face as she buckled down and wailed into the microphone. Cathy and I literally held onto each other.

After the five of them rose from their bows, she gave Lindsey a knowing look, as if to say “I can’t.” He nodded understandably, and as soon as the applause died down, instead of her ritual “Christine has been gone for 16 years, thank you for bringing back our girl,” final speech, she — and everyone but Mick — bolted off stage.

As if the show wasn’t emotional enough, two girls approached me separately and told me they recognized me from here. They complimented my photos, thanked me for writing Daughters of the Moon, and told me how much it meant to them. This has never happened to me before. I may or may not have cried. (Hint: I definitely did.)

I’ll never say I’m never going back again for this leg, but if this is it for the On With The Show tour, I went out, not with a fizzle, but a bang.

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.

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac at Madison Square Garden


This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

In a word – inspired. That was Fleetwood Mac Thursday night as they took to the stage at Madison Square Garden for their third show there in the past three months.

To be sure, there was an air of familiarity. How could there not be with a setlist of hits that invite sing-alongs to tunes many fans have been singing for the past 40 years? Considering the second leg of the current tour is hitting up many of the same markets again, a shuffled set list would have been ideal. Still, while the songs remained the same, the performances were as fresh as if it were their first stop in town in a decade.

Through serendipity and carpe diem decisions, Thursday night was the fourth show I attended this year. Each time has been different. Perspective helps. I’ve been in the third row. I’ve been in the nosebleeds. I’ve now been at the stage. But it’s also been fascinating to watch how, from date to date, each performance has changed.

Thursday night’s concert was mesmerizing, and not something just noticed from being at the foot of the stage, though that certainly helps with detail. It had nothing to do with my proximity to Fleetwood Mac; it was Fleetwood Mac themselves. They were, for lack of a better term, on. They were, as I would come to find out after the show, truly inspired.

Lindsey Buckingham tore it up, song after song, never once dropping energy, astounding the audience over and over with his rapid finger picking. “Can you believe he doesn’t use a pick?” was a frequently heard stunned utterance.

Christine McVie’s voice was smooth and effortless as it slipped into the long missed classic Mac three part harmonies. Whether jamming away at the keyboards, sauntering across the stage with an accordion, or soulfully playing “Songbird,” it was as if she had never missed a day, let alone 16 years.

John McVie was ever the backbone player, intrinsically laying down solid bass lines that anchored song after song. When he launched into his iconic solo during “The Chain,” the audience roared, and rightly so.

Mick Fleetwood was fervid, his playing larger than life. Energetic, playful, and wild: the human version of The Muppets’ Animal. His “World Turning” solo takes on a life of its own, just as impassioned and full of spirit as the man beating away at the drum kit.

Stevie Nicks was truly possessed. “Gold Dust Woman,” with its “Crackhead Dance” and ever-changing, ever-intensified coda is the 21st century “‘Rhiannon’ Exorcism.” Passion emanated from every pore as she howled “Silver Springs.” There were multiple occasions where I realized I had stopped breathing.

And they all seemed to be getting along with each other. Fleetwood Mac is no stranger to internal drama; it’s in their DNA. But this tour has seen a plethora of hot and cold moments, particularly between Buckingham and Nicks.

It was once said that seeing them together, hand in hand, is “the musical equivalent of seeing divorced parents back together.” Just before the end of “Landslide,” Nicks reached her hand out for Buckingham. After a brief, playful exchange, he finally took it. There was a moment, a look in their eyes, of pure love. It was, truly, like seeing divorced parents who had mended their wounds.

Unknown to the audience, Mick Fleetwood’s mother passed away that same day, making the show all the more poignant in retrospect. This is a band that, despite everything, loves each other to the core, though they don’t always show it. That love was on full display Thursday night. That love is what inspired their performances.

“Take care of yourselves,” Fleetwood stressed earnestly, signing off after a night of play. “But more importantly, in this crazy, crazy world we seem to be living in, be so kind to one another.”