Well this one sucks.
News has come in that Chrstine McVie, keyboardist and singer-songwriter for Fleetwood Mac, has died.
I dread these moments, full well knowing that news like this will come in more and more frequently in the coming years. But the death of a Fleetwood Mac member hits particularly hard for me.
My fandom is borderline obsessive.
Back when I didn’t know Fleetwood Mac that much, and when I actually listened to McVie’s Songbird for the first time I thought, “Stevie Nicks sounds a lot different. I kinda like it!”
It’s useless to bicker of whose voice was better. The point is that the vocal trio of Nicks, McVie and Lindsey Buckingham worked best when they balanced each other out.
Nicks with her brooding ballads, Buckingham with his experimentalism and McVie with her blend of soul and silky pop.
More than that, she was the bridge between the two iterations of Fleetwood Mac. Even though she officially left Chicken Shack to join Fleetwood Mac in 1971, she first made an uncredited appearance on Kiln House in 1970.
Fitzie’s track of the day, part one: Homeward Bound, by Fleetwood Mac
It was a period of transition for the band. Peter Green left. Danny Kirwin and Jeremy Spencer would follow. Then Bob Welch would come and go.
All the while the band was transforming its sound from the blues-originated rock that they first rode to stardom in the late 1960s to something a bit more pop-oriented.
Then, at a diner in California in about 1974/75, McVie gave the band the green light to bring Nicks and Buckingham into the fold.
Christine McVie was a brilliant songwriter, and a brilliant keyboardist. The band has credited her song, Say You Love Me, as the moment where everything clicked. Why else do you think they played it at their Rock Hall of Fame induction?
And then there’s Rumours.
For an album that had Dreams, Don’t Stop and Go Your Own Way all on Side 1 of the record, it was Songbird that gave it the exhalation it desperately needed. It took dozens of grand pianos, but it was worth it.
Tusk was a strange album. Caught between a Rumours sequel and Buckingham experimentation, it was too easy for it to get muddled. As if Nicks and Buckingham were writing music for two different albums. Were it not for Think About Me, Brown Eyes or Honey Hi, this album would have failed.
Stevie Nicks is beyond what constitutes a star, and it was too easy for McVie to be overlooked. I don’t think she was - at least her songs weren’t.
I was fortunate enough to see Fleetwood Mac at Madison Square Garden a few years ago. Many were fixated on Stevie Nicks the whole night. But in the following days, months and even today, I could not stop thinking about McVie’s keyboard solo during Black Magic Woman.
It was a song brought out from the vault, from Green’s days. And a perfect representation of how the band embraced its entire history.
It made me happy to see McVie, a former blues player, back to playing her roots. If only for a few moments, before diving into the pop-filled bliss of Everywhere.
Fitzie’s track of the day, part two: You’ll Never Make Me Cry, by Fleetwood Mac
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