Significant Songs (10 & 11)

Man Of The World/Big Love

Two songs this time, and for a reason. They signify the beginning, and end, of my long relationship with the band, Fleetwood Mac. By 1968, I was aware that John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers were splitting up all over the place, with former members starting up their own groups, and often heading in different directions. Few groups in the history of popular music have gone through as many incarnations as Fleetwood Mac. Band members have come and gone, and there have been splits, farewell tours, comeback tours, and retrospectives. Originally formed as far back as 1967, the present line up continues to this day, under the same name, with original members. Few others have endured forty-seven years in the music business, and can still play to packed houses. This puts Fleetwood Mac in the same company as The Rolling Stones, and the surviving Beatles, as well as the Beach Boys.

In 1969, I heard a single release by the founding line-up. Peter Green, a marvellous Blues artist, and amazing guitarist, wrote this song, ‘Man Of the World’, and it enjoyed considerable success. The plaintive tones, perfect vocals, and quiet guitar suggest a love song, but breaks in the style also show the Blues roots behind it. They went on to release more big-selling singles, with the song ‘Oh Well’ indicating the path that the band was taking. However, Peter Green was soon to leave the band, plagued with mental health issues that kept him away from the music scene for decades. The band added Christine McVie as a keyboard player and vocalist, and continued to record. In 1974, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band, and huge success was just around the corner.

With Nicks’ big hair, flowing skirts, and distinctly American vocal, the group took a completely different route. The Blues was forgotten, and folk-rock became the order of the day, capturing the mood of the time, and delivering massive worldwide hits, like ‘Say You Love Me’, and ‘Rhiannon’. At much the same time, the personal lives of those in the group began to attract just as much attention. Writers seemed to be more interested in who was sleeping together, than in the musical output. Fleetwood Mac were in danger of becoming a cooler version of Abba, with relationship issues amongst band members threatening to break them up. Christine and John McVie were splitting up, Mick Fleetwood was getting a divorce, and the long relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham also came to an end.

Amazingly, they endured these upheavals, and in 1977, went on to release the album ‘Rumours’. This is one of the best-selling albums of all time, with almost fifty million copies sold. It won numerous awards, and contained songs that almost everyone on the planet can recognise, including ‘Don’t Stop’, and ‘Go Your Own Way’. Fleetwood Mac had arrived in the mainstream, and could sell out any stadium or arena in the world. I was less impressed. As a fan of the earlier, Blues influenced music, I considered this to be something of a sell-out, and once it seemed that everyone had a copy of ‘Rumours’, I lost interest in the band, and could not get excited by the direction they were going in.

For the next ten years., they were unstoppable, and became a household name. Then, in 1987, they released their last album with the then current line-up, ‘Tango In The Night’. By then, Lindsey Buckingham was the inspirational force behind the group, and the track ‘Big Love’ caught my attention. This was more like it. Great beat, fine guitar, and superb vocals. It wasn’t really Fleetwood Mac anymore, but it would do for me. Sadly, that was the last song that I ever liked. Buckingham left the group, and though they continued to record, the magic was long gone.

Here is the original group, with ‘Man Of The World’, from 1969, and the official video of ‘Big Love’, from 1987.

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9 thoughts on “Significant Songs (10 & 11)

  1. How I loved Fleetwood Mac, sadly I started with Rumours (sorry!) but I think Tusk was my favourite album, I have the last ones, Tango in the Night and Behind the Mask, but didn’t like them as much.

    Man of the World is pretty amazing.

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  2. I stumbled upon the early Fleetwood Mac as I went through a phase of buying old vinyl; I think English Rose was my first of many of the blues Mac era that I found and I never looked back. It was always fun asking people who they thought was playing as Rumours was the only Fleetwood Mac most people had heard; imagine the surprise when I revealed the answer.

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    1. When you start to delve into the background of many famous groups, it is interesting to find that they mostly came from the same roots, bands that had split, and re-formed with new members. There are too many to explore on the blog, but I might give one a try one day.

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