Media Review: Rumours

“Rumours” is the 1977 release by the quintessential soft rock group Fleetwood Mac. Perhaps you are wondering why I would write a review of an album that came out almost fifty years ago. The simple answer is that this album is undeniably awesome and still warrants discussion today. The album, which won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1977, was fuelled by excessive drug and alcohol use and a series of unfortunate inter-band relationship events. In the following article, we will spend some time with the record, diving into a few songs to parse out the relationship drama behind the scenes that contributed to the lyrics and sound. 

“You Make Loving Fun” is the eighth track on the record and is another song that is chock-full of relationship drama. The song was written and sung by Christine McVie, the band’s keyboardist. McVie wrote the song reflecting on her relationship with Curry Grant after her split with her husband, John McVie. The twist here is that John was the bassist of Fleetwood Mac. The song has a strong bass line, which is funky in sound and a definite slight to John from Christine. On top of this, the lyrics are perhaps the most optimistic on the album, in stark contrast to the rest of the record’s tone of sadness, anger and remorse. Imagine having your instrument be the loudest one in a song all about how your ex-wife loves her new boyfriend so much. It’s pretty brutal. 

Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham wrote “Go Your Own Way” about his long-term girlfriend and the powerhouse vocalist of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks. The lyrics begin with “Loving you isn’t the right thing to do,” which sets the tone of the entire song. Buckingham’s lyrics are cold, and the music reflects an angry man’s view of the end of a relationship. Nicks and Buckingham sing the chorus together, almost shouting the words, “You can go your own way.” There is a line in the second verse, “Packing up, shacking up’s all you wanna do.” Stevie Nicks told Rolling Stone in a 1997 article, “​​I very, very much resented him telling the world that ‘packing up, shacking up’ with different men was all I wanted to do. He knew it wasn’t true. It was just an angry thing that he said. Every time those words would come out onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him. He knew it, so he really pushed my buttons through that. It was like, ‘I’ll make you suffer for leaving me.’ And I did.” She made good on that promise. 

The Nicks-Buckingham drama does not end there. On the deluxe edition of “Rumours,” the record ends with “Silver Springs,” a track with a complicated history. It was meant to be on the original record, but when Stevie Nicks, the creator of the song, presented it to the band and producers, it was deemed too long. Because of how vinyl records are made, there is a finite amount of time given for an album. Nicks’ original song was about ten minutes long. She would thrive alongside Taylor Swift, releasing a ten-minute version of a breakup song. But alas, what could have been simply could not be. So, after much intense argument and debate, the song was cut from the album.

What a wonderful gift that the song was eventually given to the world on the deluxe edition of “Rumours.” It is an achingly beautiful, sad song, where Nicks pours out her heart in violent vocals and stinging words, reprimanding Buckingham and mourning their relationship. Perhaps the most powerful lyrics in the song come near the end: “Time cast a spell on you, but you won’t forget me / I know I could’ve loved you, but you would not let me / I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you / You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.” Absolutely exquisite, absolutely heartbreaking. 

Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” is an album that deserves to be discussed in far more than one article. It deserves an attentive listener and the privilege of familiarity. Whether you can relate to the feelings expressed in the songs or not, it is such a musically stunning album that you are sure to derive some pleasure, pain, or simple awe from it. 

Sources: You’re Wrong About (podcast), Sound on Sound

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