Fleetwood Mac emerged with a new sound in the 1970s. In 1977, 46 years ago this month, the group released “Rumours.” The album immediately gained praise from the public and from critics, won a Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year in 1978, and sold over 40 million copies, becoming one of the highest selling albums in history.
“Rumours” is the 1970s soft rock sound in its purest form: it blends everything. There are acoustic and electric instruments, keyboards and guitars, a prominent rhythm and upbeat sound but lyrics about the notoriously tumultuous relationships that plagued the group behind the scenes.
The album was fueled by divorce and affairs between band members and drug use all around. To fully understand what was going on, it's important to get a feel for the band members.
Fleetwood Mac’s lineup has shifted greatly over the decades, but the quintessential five made up the band at the time of “Rumours’’ recording and release.
Likely the most famous couple in the band was vocalist Stevie Nicks and guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, who had broken things off just prior to recording “Rumours.” The palpable tension between the two found its way into various songs on the track, and those songs became some of the album’s biggest hits.
Nicks wrote “Dreams” about their relationship, among other songs, taking on a darker, more introspective take on the failed relationship with a sound that lands somewhere between mourning and cleansing.
Buckingham, on the other hand, wrote “Go Your Own Way,” an exercise in letting go, but one that takes some hits at Nicks on the way out.
Although the sound is brighter and more uptempo, there are some hints at the devastation Buckingham was feeling, having known Nicks since he was 16-years-old. In particular, Nicks was irate when she first heard the lines, “packing up, shacking up is all you want to do,” and demanded it be cut from the song. Still, it remained.
Nicks would go on to briefly be involved with percussionist Mick Fleetwood, which also likely added to the mix. Fleetwood had recently found out that his wife and the mother of his children had been having an affair with his best friend.
However, there was somehow more going on behind the scenes: enter vocalist and keyboardist Christine McVie and bassist John McVie, married eight years and on the brink of divorce when they reached the recording studio. Unlike the unpredictable solar flare of Nicks’ and Buckingham’s dynamic, the McVie’s were silent and cold around each other, avoiding any contact outside of the recording studio.
Suddenly, out of a cocktail of unbridled pain, immense talent and a lot of cocaine, “Rumours” was born.
The album carries listeners through everyone’s perspective on everyone’s own situations, as though each member of the band is coming to you and trying to convince you of what they are feeling. Christine McVie looks forward with “Don’t Stop” while Nicks smolders through “Gold Dust Woman” and Buckingham reflects on what he has learned from all the chaos in “Never Going Back Again.”
However, there is one song on the album that everyone wrote together: “The Chain.” “The Chain” is a breathtaking piece, one that sends a chill up your spine by its sheer intensity. It’s an ode from each band member and to one another on trust and what ensues when it has been broken.
46 years later, every single theme in “Rumours” remains relevant, poignant and relatable to young people. What keeps it so fresh is the burning uncertainty of being a young adult. Who are your friends? Who do you love and who loves you? What have you learned?
Megan Diehl is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note the views expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Megan? Email her at email@example.com.
Assistant Opinion Editor