FAMILY

My childhood was pretty idyllic. It was really pretty Ozzie & Harriett. My father was an executive; my mom was a homemaker. We belonged to a country club.
VH1's Behind the Music, 2001

Well, my mom grew up around San Jose, and she was a debutante-type. Her grandparents were a real big family in San Jose, wealthy. Her great grandfather was like the first doctor in Santa Clara county, came across in a covered wagon, the whole bit. My dad grew up on a farm, and it was very odd. I mean, they weren't suited for each other in that way, very dissimilar backgrounds. But people didn't think about it. When it was time to get married, you just got married. It's not like that today. My dad went to work for my mother's grandfather, who had started a coffee company in San Francisco. It was, at that time, comparable to Folgers. In the Thirties, the coffee company was doing real well, but eventually it was squeezed out. And my dad had to go to work at a job that he probably didn't really enjoy that much.
Interview, 1982

I had a swell childhood - two older brothers, great parents, and lots of activities and shared quality times. And it was one of the older brothers who was probably responsible for me doing what I'm doing, in the sense that he was old enough to be buying the Elvis records in '56 when I was only 6. He was the one who collected all the great 45s - he still has them - and I used to sit in his room and listen to those things over and over again.
BAM, May 1992

I can remember drawing guitars when I was about five. I used to spend hours and hours in my brother’s room listening to 45s. I was the black sheep in that way.
Songwriters On Songwritingby Paul Zollo, 1997

We were in the fifth grade, my friend and I, and we had a little section of my backyard that was just all woods. Very small. My friend and I had just been to Disneyland, and we went on the jungle cruise. When we got back, we went out into the backyard, and dug a little river, filled it with water from the garden hose and made our own jungle. It was great - we even had sound effects. I dragged a speaker from the record player out there and put on a sound-effects record so we'd have noises: Ooook ooook akkk! Jungle noises. I don't think many kids did things like that.
Rolling Stone, February 1980

[The effect of winning a local music competition at age 8, playing Black Slacks on guitar] I won that and that was, I think, much to my mother's dismay...she saw the writing on the wall.
VH1's Behind the Music, 2001

[R]ight after high school, someone saw how well I played, and they just sort of yanked me out of my situation. That same fall, I quit the water polo team, grew my hair out, and that was it. My mom was going, "Oh my God!" My brother's going, "You're not going to let him grow his hair out, are you?!"
BAM, May 1992

I wasn’t a teenage rebel. I grew my hair long, but I didn’t grow up with a lot of adversity.
International Musician and Recording World, December 1984

In general my parents were supportive of everything; they were supportive of me as a person.....I don’t think my mother was of a mind that music would be something that I should pursue professionally. I think she knew the entertainment business was a rough one, and that there are a lot of pitfalls and a heavy lack of stability. So she didn’t encourage me to seek that out, but she certainly encouraged me to play.
Musicians in Tune by Jenny Boyd, 1992

[What did you learn from your father?] A sense of joy, enthusiasm and compassion - not judging people, which I don't always adhere to, I admit. He was the greatest father you could imagine. I have two brothers, and he shared in all the activities, games - he was just always there. He wasn't caught up in business, maybe to the point of it being a fault. He wasn't the best businessman in the world, but that wasn't his priority. Many friends had fathers who were caught up in the business world and they suffered because of it.
Mix, September 1992

[On his father's death of a heart attack in February of 1974] He was in a gas line in the gas shortage in 1974. Of course, it was a huge, huge shock to me....The first time death comes to your door in your family, you always feel it's for the others; It's not going to happen to anyone around you...I guess that's part of the growing up process. It's too bad it had to happen so soon...
VH1's Behind the Music, 2001

[How old were you when he died?] Twenty-three. [Then he didn't get to see all your success?] No. He got to see the Buckingham-Nicks thing. That was about it. [Does that bother you?] Yeah. I miss him. We were brought up very formally, not a lot of open displays of affection. And we were just sort of breaking through that.
Interview, 1982

I came from a family that was very socially and athletically inclined. One of my brothers was a world record holder in competitive swimming and a silver medalist in the '68 Olympics. So I was involved in that kind of competition as well, and one didn't really challenge the other until I got out of high school. And then the conflict between wanting to rehearse after school with the band, and having to go to practice or something was too much. But I was glad for that time.
BackBeat with Laura Gross, 1982

[Do you come from an academic background? You come across as being well-educated.] I wouldn’t say so. My mother and father both graduated from college, but they weren’t particularly intellectual by any means. I don’t have much formal education at all. I graduated from high school and was in junior college, which is not much better than high school, for about a year-and-a-half. In fact, the whole band Stevie and I were in at that time (Fritz), dropped out together. I never took any lessons on guitar. It’s all been sort of a self-educating process. Actually, I grew up as a competitive swimmer. My brother was in the ’68 Olympics. And we were very sportsy. I grew up in sort of an upper-middle-class society; we belonged to a country club in Northern California, all that stuff.
Music Connection, September 1984

[Greg] came out of Stanford University and for about a year was considered the best swimmer in the world. He was on Wide World of Sports all the time. He ended up getting a silver medal in Mexico City. I felt very overshadowed being Greg Buckingham's brother.
VH1's Behind the Music, 2001

[Speaking in awe of his brother's regimen] He'd get up at six in the morning, work out, go to school, work out till dinner, go to sleep and start all over again.
Rolling Stone, February 7, 1980

[On the sudden death of his brother Greg in November of 1990] A brother passing away who's only four years older...it feels so out of the context of how things should be...
VH1's Behind the Music, 2001

My mother is very proud, and my oldest brother, Jeff, who was the one who brought home “Heartbreak Hotel” when I was six...he and I have always had a rapport through sharing the love of that kind of music, and he follows [my] career with great interest.
BackBeat with Laura Gross, 1982

I can take a five hour drive up the coast and just be back in totally familiar surroundings - and I think Northern California will always feel more like home to me than Los Angeles.
BackBeat with Laura Gross, 1982

Thank you. Yeah, welcome home. This is my home. I grew up, and spent the first twenty three years before we went down to seek our fortune, about five miles up the road. And uh, it's good to be back. I'd like to uh..I'd like to say hello to all of my family and friends and..long time friends that are all here tonight. And that uh, I feel their presence very strongly, and I even feel the presence of a few who are no longer with us. So um, anyway, I don't want to go on too long here, but I just..I had to say that.
live in concert, Mountain View, CA, October 15, 1997

[I] never had kids. I guess I've been obsessive with getting the music the way I wanted it.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 1993

I have a new girlfriend now that I’ve had for about a year. Things are a lot better. Things are on the upswing; there’s no doubt about that. So um, I’m even thinking now...I mean, I’ve been so obsessed with my creative life for so long, and I’m actually thinking now about the possibility of maybe, you know, trying to balance it out. You know, the reconciliation of opposites is always like, something that constitutes growth and um...the idea of marriage or kids...I mean, I love children - I know I’d be a great father but it was just never something that I thought I could handle in light of how much focus I had to put on everything else. And I’m starting to think maybe I could do that now so, you know, at the advanced age of 47 [laughs], a lot of possibilities are occurring to me. So that’s kind of nice.
Virtual Venue, August 1997

[On how he met that girlfriend, now wife] She was hired by Warner Brothers just to, to take some, some photographs. We hit it off immediately and had a lot to talk about right away. And then she said, "Well thanks, I got my phototgraphs." But then she came back!
VH1's Behind the Music, November 2001

I always said I wanted to settle down and have kids and all that sort of thing -- and I have. It was a matter of finding the right person -- and finding myself.
www.creators.com, March 2003

I have nothing but good memories of growing up in an upper middle class family in northern California. I always thought I would have kids. I never found the right person, but I wasn't the right person at the time, either. I happened to meet someone that I get along with very well.
The State, April 15, 2003

My mom died about two years ago. She got to see my son. I think she realized that there was an anchor and a structure there for me that hadn't been there ever in my life.
VH1's Behind the Music, November 2001

I feel, in many ways, more vital now.
VH1's Behind the Music, November 2001

I'm now married and I have a four-and-a half-year-old son and a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. I think all that calms you down in increments, without you even being aware of it. You get more balance and you feel like there's something greater than yourself in the scheme of things. I'm just happier.
Uncut, May 2003

All my love to Kristen, Will and Leelee for your inspiration and for changing my life.
Say You Will liner notes, 2003

I would hope that when my son and daughter get older and they can really listen to some of the stuff that I've done, that they would be able to hear the integrity in it. And I would hope that there's a lesson that they would learn about aspiring to be an individual whenever you have the opportunity to follow your bliss.
VH1's Behind the Music, November 2001

[Heaven?] The one thing I could look at that’s happened to me in the last few years that’s really a miracle is that I - having never been married, and having had a series of tumultuous relationships, and never having had children - I got married and now have a four-and-a-half year old son and two-and-a-half year old daughter and a wife who is the love of my life, and uh...if that don’t get you into heaven, I don’t know what will.
KFOG, San Francisco radio interview, April 24, 2003

I have a wife and a son and a daughter, and we just moved into a beautiful new house. There's so much good energy in my life right now that I would say that even though the Rumours time was exciting and all of those years were larger than life, they were not the happiest times of my life. This probably is the best time of my life. What can I say? I must have done something right.
Chicago Sun Times, June 2003

I'm just in a great place. I'm married with now three children. We just had a baby girl about six weeks ago. So, you know, that side of my life is going great.
KLOS 95.5, June 2004

QUIET LIFE

Some people lived life to the hilt more than others. I was never a big party guy. I had an eight-track recorder in a case that I’d take into my hotel room. And on days off, I’d try to work on stuff. But we all had our moments. The craziest times for me personally - as far as fun times with women and that kind of stuff - were during the early days, right after Stevie and I had broken up. By the time we got into touring, after Rumours and Mirage, I was living with someone, so that kind of thing didn’t really come into play. And, you know, drugs were more a part of life for some than for others. That’s all I can say. I was never a big druggie. I mean, I’ll smoke pot and do...I never bought cocaine really. Too expensive....I never went anywhere, really. Mick had a scene going up at his house in Malibu....You know, Malibu is and was a magnet for all sorts of strange types. But I hardly ever went out there. They were there, and I was in Bel Air just trying to work and carry on a relationship.
Guitar World, September 1997

The physical and mental are so interlocked that if you are physically depressed, you’re gonna be mentally depressed as well. And I just don’t want to be mentally depressed myself. I don’t know that I would’ve chosen that kind of lifestyle [drugs & alcohol] had I not gotten into a group whose collective will dictated that. And there’s not much you can do. You can either say, “I’m not gonna play,” or you can pretty much play ball. In that situation, you really have to jump in....Maybe I would’ve anyway, but I really doubt it.
Music Connection, September 1984

I feel like I'm a real disciplined sort of person. I don't often go out and party or drink. I like to work, write songs, 'cause that's what I do….
Hit Parader, April 1981

I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist.
Rockline, 1992

[M]usic and a relationship with a good woman are probably things that I will often place above the sense of camaraderie, which sometimes isn’t really a deep feeling anyway. There’s a lot of bull that goes down when you just start hanging out....
Innerview with Jim Ladd, 1981

[I] don't feel like I've been in the limelight as far as the attention focused on the group. Stevie, in the beginning, her visual presence and just her personality were so strong. That was always the figurehead of the group, and still is, in a way. In that way, I really haven't had to deal with a barrage of external adulation by any means. I very seldom get a fan letter.
Musician, Player and Listener, June 1981

I never even put up any of my gold records. If you’re a good craftsman, a good actor, a good anything, you know you can be better and that there’s always another goal to shoot for. It seems more natural for me to keep striving, to keep learning, than to bask in the sunshine of external success.
BAM, January 1981

In some ways, I suppose that I'm not as appreciated by the audience in general as Stevie. But I'm very much appreciated by my peers both in the group, and also by other peers in the industry who know what I'm about. Not being one of the most visible...well, obviously I am a visible member of the group, but not as much as Stevie, or even Mick, so I can still walk down the street without anyone bothering me, which is great.
Creem, February 1983

Do you think you have enough for a feature story? Can I get you anything? Are you sure everything is all right? I don’t really do that much. I told you it was going to be boring. Want to play a game of pool? Croquet?
Rolling Stone, November 1984

I'm a very reserved person, and not too outgoing. But in the same way that the album [Law & Order] is kind of crazy - the other side comes out on stage. You know, you put a little something on the eyebrows, and it just comes out...all that manic energy. So, people probably think I'm a maniac, judging from what I do on stage sometimes. But it's just the opposite. I think you'll find a lot of people like that. I was real surprised when I met Elton John. He was just a little mouse! And he gets up on stage and starts standing on the piano and jumping around. He's getting all that alter-ego out on stage.
Interview, 1982

I’m boring like everyone else. I think you’ll find with any entertainer that what they project may be an alter ego. And if you talk to them, they’re mostly the opposite of that - real boring. That’s me; I’m just real boring. In a sense, the music is like seeing a shrink: you’re working out all these things. My being seen as eccentric is pretty much only relative to everyone else in Fleetwood Mac…
Rock, November 1984

I like to read biographies about people who have made a mark in history. It’s nice to read what they went through. Lately, I’ve read books on Edward R. Murrow and Charlie Chaplin. [Hobbies?] Drawing, swimming and movies. I love to watch a film 10 or more times and really take it apart.
Daily News, 1992

I think there's a lot of things I could do. I think I'm now just learning not to worry about things. I'm really one of those consummate worriers. Now I'm just starting to realize that a lot of things are possible. Keep your ears and eyes open, just do what you're doing, don't worry about it and look sharp.
Song Hits Magazine, May 1985

I isolate myself really well. I have three telephone lines at home and I put two of them on hold almost all the time. About four people have the other number, so that makes it nice and quiet up at the house. There are so many people that call who just want something.
Illinois Entertainment Weekly, November 1984

I border on being...not antisocial, but I’m just not a party person. A lot of times I’ll say, “Yeah, I’ll be there!” and at the 11th hour I’ll chicken out and stay home.
Guitar World, September 1997

All the things I've done since the late 80s have been survival moves, yet they've given me a fresh optimism. I've managed to make myself happier just by concentrating on what, for me, rings true.
Billboard, May 1992

All of the elements that went into Fleetwood Mac -- not just the relationship things but the level of success and the sense of having to do what people expect you to do - all of that tended to make me pretty protective of myself and my music. In the process of making this album (Out of the Cradle), I've come to the point where I'm more comfortable with my own abilities, and I'm becoming more interested in allowing other things and other people in to influence me more than I've ever done before. I think that probably applies to all facets of my life.
San Diego Union Tribune, March 1993

[What's a perfect weekend for you?] I don't profess to be very well-rounded. I know people wonder how anyone could spend X-amount of hours alone in a little room. But I can come out of an eight-hour stretch in my studio feeling fantastic -- like I've been meditating. So a good weekend for me would be to get some of my own music done -- have some kind of studio breakthrough with something I've been working on a couple of years. For a perfect weekend -- well, I've got a fantastic view from my home, so maybe I'd spread a blanket outside, put out a bottle of wine, cook a couple of steaks, maybe make love on the lawn, get some sun, enjoy some swimming -- then go back inside and cut a hit song. There's a nice balance there I think.
Los Angeles Times, October 1997

["The most pleasure I derive in a typical day comes from" what?...Lindsey?] Oh, well, these days, the most pleasure I derive from...is coming to rehearsals and seeing this whole project advance, and then being able to go home and hang out with my kids before they go to bed.
Toronto radio station, Q107, March 2003

Having kids changed my view of myself. There's an irony there in terms of my world and how obsessive I had been for so long, even after leaving the band. Working on albums was my whole life. I had something to prove, and maybe the reasons were not particularly noble to begin with, but they were the seeds for developing some incredible work habits much to the exclusion of everything else. It was not good for relationships or anything. There's a reason to strike a balance now. Having children gave me a new mantra. I'm settling down, taking everything down a few pegs.
USA Today, April 28, 2003

[I]'m blessed with, at a fairly late point in one's life, having met a wonderful woman, and having a beautiful wife and two beautiful children for the first time in my life. And all of that is the big balance for me.
102.9 Dallas radio interview, May 21, 2003

INSPIRATION

Hearing Heartbreak Hotel was a revelation to me!
VH1's Behind the Music, 2001

I would say that the earliest one was probably Elvis Presley and 50s Rock. When I was about six or seven years old, my oldest brother came home with an Elvis record, Heartbreak Hotel. I started playing guitar when I was about seven and that was a great time to be influenced by that music. I was just lucky enough to have someone who was bringing home all the great rock‘n’roll. He has a great collection of 45s. After the real vitality of the initial rock movement sort of subsided in the early 60s, I started getting interested in folk music because there were some very interesting guitar styles. That’s why I don’t use a pick. I started finger picking. And then obviously 60s rock, The Beatles. No one got away from that.
International Musician, October 1982

No one is The Beatles. No one is Lennon and McCartney today, by a long shot. I’m still trying to write a song that is as good as what John and Paul were doing when they were 20.
International Musician, October 1982

John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band. I think it had a lot to do with me thinking it was okay to be that rude in my own songs [laughs].
Performing Songwriter, May 2003

I used to love Led Zeppelin, but I never sat around trying to learn Jimmy Page licks. In terms of developing a sense of melody, I was helped along by Dave Mason's Alone Together - a wonderful album with a very pretty kind of lead-guitar style. But I never thought of myself as someone who was going to go out there and burn it up. In fact, the lead stuff came very late for me.
Guitar Player, April 2003

[Which musician (other than yourself) have you ever wanted to be?] Scotty Moore. And I love what Chet Atkins used to do as a producer as well. I think I approach my guitar playing, at least in the studio, from a function of trying to make a good record and not trying to make a guitar statement per se. If you listen to all those great Everly Brothers records, you might not even be aware that a part is there but it wouldn't be a good record without those parts.
Mojo, August 1998

Then I got into a lot of folk things after that and picked up the bluegrass banjo. So there’s a finger style that runs through all of what I’ve done. I’ve always appreciated people who were able to incorporate the guitar into good record making; like Chet Atkins’ playing on the Everly Brothers’ records. You don’t really notice what he’s doing, but if his guitar wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be a record. It’s just an understated thing that comes in and goes out: a lyrical, rhythmic way of filling a hole and then receding into the background. That’s something that I have always aspired to.
Guitar World, September 1997

I got into folk for a while after the initial surge of rock music sort of cooled off. I listened to a lot of Kingston Trio stuff, which was certainly not for purists, but it still sounds pretty good today. I had all of their albums and thought they had a lot of good energy, whether or not the form is particularly fashionable today, the energy still holds up very, very well. I also played some bluegrass banjo for a while, so I’m sure I was influenced by Earl Scruggs a little bit.
Guitar World, January 1983

For me, although it may have been Elvis or Buddy Holly who initially sparked my musical imagination, it was the Kingston Trio that brought a far more sustaining influence to my guitar style and sense of arrangement and harmony. Nick Reynolds and John Stewart, both with their vocal blend and their personal rapport, were greatly responsible for the sound and spirit of the two. When I learned of their plans to reunite for this album and was asked to participate, I was naturally pleased. I was also intrigued because although John and Nick's blend has remained, their musical collaboration has been dormant for 16 years. Yet once the sessions had begun, any initial fears gave way to confidence and a sense of catharsis for all. Every day I was reminded of the importance that personal chemistry plays in the making of good music, and when we were done, I came away feeling privileged to be involved, happy to have been able to give back a small part of that which Nick and John had given me before.
Liner notes written by Lindsey for Stewart's and Reynold's Revenge of the Budgie album, 1982

Besides Scotty Moore and Merle Travis, anyone who was playing pop and folk in the Sixties. I guess you could add classical guys like Segovia and Laurindo Almeida. I was also influenced by several blues-oriented players - but not many from the traditional school. If you look at Eric Clapton’s playing, he tends to stick to a correct blues style. I was more interested in guitarists like Peter Green and David Gilmour, who took traditional blues and made it more ethereal or darker.
Guitar World, September 1992

Well, obviously, I grew up with all the Beach Boys’ hits. But the thing that always got me about Brian was his creative spirit, and at some point, he tried to break away from that. I can relate to the whole trip of trying to be more experimental. That’s something I admire about Brian and understand. Certainly, some of his work that I love the most is the Smiley Smile stuff. You talk about people today who are doing experimental things, and I don’t think any of what’s going on today touches anything like Wind Chimes. That’s really classic experimentation, but with melody.
Scene Entertainment Weekly, August 1984

[T]he music itself was exciting - just its inherent sense of possibility. He also was an example of someone trying to move out of the realm of what was expected of him, whether or not he pulled it off. Brian chose to reject the formula established by such Beach Boys songs as Little Deuce Coupe and move into personal growth. That’s a great thing you don’t see dramatically demonstrated every day, especially by someone whose music you respect so much.
Guitar World, September 1992

My favorite performers are people like Laurie Anderson. I don’t know what she sells, but it’s not much. But she’s wonderful.
Los Angeles Times, August 1984

I read this [Chaplin His Life & Art by David Robinson] not long after I left Fleetwood Mac in the late Eighties. I was looking for the strength to move forward. Chaplin took many aspects of his creative process in his own hands and fought to get things done the way he envisioned them. Plus he constantly reinvented himself. His example gave me the courage to get myself going again.
Guitar World, July 2003

BRIAN WILSON

Well, obviously, I grew up with all the Beach Boys’ hits. But the thing that always got me about Brian was his creative spirit, and at some point, he tried to break away from that. I can relate to the whole trip of trying to be more experimental. That’s something I admire about Brian and understand. Certainly, some of his work that I love the most is the Smiley Smile stuff. You talk about people today who are doing experimental things, and I don’t think any of what’s going on today touches anything like Wind Chimes. That’s really classic experimentation, but with melody.
Scene Entertainment Weekly, August 1984

I admire him most as a melodic writer, an arranger, and a vocal orchestrator. When people think of Brian they think of Little Deuce Coupe and I Get Around which are great songs, but there’s also Wind Chimes and all those other obscure but beautiful pieces of work. Wind Chimes is a classic. No one has done anything like it since.
BAM, January 1981

[Musically, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys had an influence on you. Someone once asked you the one song would you liked to have written. And you just said - Gold Only Knows. Most people would have to think a while before answering.] That's a masterpiece. I would love to have written any of his songs. But that's gotta be the apex. I mean, the chords - Jesus! I have no idea where the chords are. Actually, I could figure them out, but I couldn't play them for you right now. Incredible. [You've met him, right?] Several times. Recently, I was watching him on TV on Portrait of a Legend. Have you ever seen that - with James Darren? They had all these great clips, striped shirts and everything. It was great. [How do you think he got so crazy?] Well, I have my own ideas. I'm sure that there was a time when I thought I had it all figured out. And then when I met him I realized his predicament was much more complex than I could ever imagine.
Interview, 1982

[T]he music itself was exciting - just its inherent sense of possibility. He also was an example of someone trying to move out of the realm of what was expected of him, whether or not he pulled it off. Brian chose to reject the formula established by such Beach Boys songs as Little Deuce Coupe and move into personal growth. That’s a great thing you don’t see dramatically demonstrated every day, especially by someone whose music you respect so much.
Guitar World, September 1992

I think I admired, identified and related with his fight to move beyond a commercial format. Initially, there was always the need to perpetuate the kind of music he was making, because that was the music that was selling. He had to struggle with a lot of people to go beyond that, and that represented some personal growth for him. In some way, I identify with that. Tusk was somewhat a reaction against the mega-trip we found ourselves on with Rumours. It was a phenomenon far beyond our imagination. That's why it made no sense for me to record a Rumours II. It seemed to me there were so many other things to try that would break the mold and keep us more honest. I can see a parallel there between that and what Brian went through.
Los Angeles Times, June 1992

I wouldn’t compare my talents to Brian’s, just our situations. Our spirit of experimentation and our desire to break out of the limitations of the pop format sprang from early commercial success and the difficulty one experiences with that.
International Musician Recording World, December 1984

His music always had the quality of lifting the spirit in a way that transcended his subject matter. Brian decided his music was about his own growth rather than just about selling records. Having been part of a machine that was often dedicated to cranking out hits, I appreciate what it took for him to make that choice.
Rolling Stone, 1988

The Beach Boys showed the way, and not just to California. Sure, they may have sold the California Dream to a lot of people, but for me, it was Brian Wilson showing how far you might have to go in order to make your own musical dream come true.

In the beginning, I was someone who grew up in California and was a lover of the early music that he and the Beach Boys made. Later, I would relate to Brian's struggle as an artist against a machine that tended toward serving the bottom line. Brian fought hard against the industry attitude that if it works, run it into the ground. Music meant much more to him than that. He was trying to do something so much bigger than that with his teenage symphonies to God. In the process, he really rocked the boat and changed the world.

When the Beach Boys started, Brian was taking European sensibilities and infusing them into a Chuck Berry format. Those harmonies were based on the Four Freshmen, with a little church element added to it. He put all that on top of Chuck Berry rock & roll, and the result sounded so fresh. I remember hearing Surfin' Safari first when I was in sixth grade and the way that record jumped out of the radio. It had the beat, the sense of joy, that explosion rock & roll gave to a lot of us. But it also had this incredible lift, this amazing kind of chemical reaction that seemed to happen inside you when you heard the whole thing.

Pet Soundsis the acknowledged masterpiece, and it's everything it's said to be, with Brian taking some of the influences he got from Phil Spector and making something all his own. But even before that there's Side Two of The Beach Boys Today!, which is really just one ballad after another and is for me one of the great sides on a rock album. Those are beautiful numbers - "Please Let Me Wonder," "Kiss Me Baby," "She Knows Me Too Well," "In the Back of My Mind" - that foreshadow Brian's angst and show where he's starting to expose his vulnerability. A lot of what you find later on Pet Sounds or Smile you could find in a different form early on.

Today it's nice to see that Brian's in a place where he can do what he wants without the pressure of selling or of having to be the support system for so many others. That's great, because he gave the rest of us more than his fair share of good vibrations.
Rolling Stone, April 15, 2004

CREATIVITY

Well its a weird thing, creativity. It’s an odd...it's an intangible, definitely. And sometimes, the things that are the most effortless, it's like you are a conduit for things that are just out there passing through you.
Mark & Brian, August 1997

All children are creative; it’s just that ninety-five percent get it capped off. The instincts go away, and people are channeled into certain ways of being, of thinking. I think it can be redeveloped, but I think most people's sense of creativity has been stomped out of them. Everyone can come up with something creative, but maybe they just dismiss it. A lot of being creative is being committed enough to what you’re doing to follow through on it. The seed is only the beginning; it’s the work that you put into it, and putting yourself on the line to actually follow through.
Musicians In Tune by Jenny Boyd, 1992

I'm very enamoured of the process of creating. I think it's very important to feel.....A lot of the reason to create is just to experience the process of creating --- and how things work.
Creem, February 1985

[T]here’s the whole placement of - what’s it called? Feng Shui or something? - whatever - the Eastern idea that placement of objects for optimum effect, you know. I think there is definitely something to that.
Mark & Brian, August 1997

One of the reasons I enjoy working alone - and why that’s when things will quite often come out well - is because it’s very much akin to a religious [experience]. There is some tie between religion and art; I think there’s a lot of crossover. What I do is get really centered and get into a space that I assume has religious connotations to it. Someone else’s anchor could be going to church; the anchor for me is when I work on my own and really get very close to something.
Musicians In Tune by Jenny Boyd, 1992

I don’t talk to people about what is “correct.” I think if you’re taught music in college or something, there is definitely a theory of what is correct that you can learn from. But I’ve known a lot of people who lost a lot by studying it too much. When Stevie and I were in this band Fritz years ago, the organist used to write most of the music. When he was a sophomore in high school he was writing some great tunes. Since the band broke up, he went to college and got a music degree. I was with him recently and his writing is worse now than it was then! For all his knowledge, his writing is very stiff. His training doesn’t allow for any creativity. Ideally, music education should teach you about possibilities, rather than formulas.
BAM, January 1981

I’m sort of unorthodox...the way I approach everything.
Innerview with Jim Ladd, 1979

You’ve got to take chances...even if you fail....
Off the Record, 1984

I think anyone who creates will tell you it’s very difficult to work completely linearly to get what you’re after. Hitchcock, I gather, worked like that. He would totally preconceive every scene and then try to get it as close as he could to that. I do that, too, in some ways. You hear something in your head and you try to get as close as you can. At the same time, the more you work with music or art, for that matter, the more you learn that you have to let the work lead you to a certain extent. It has to be give and take. You can’t always be exerting your own will over a painting or a piece of music because you have to follow your own impulses and there are always going to be a certain number of unknowns that you’ll have to deal with. I’m not against planning, by any means. I think you should go into a project with as many specific ideas as possible. I just don’t like to close myself off to other possibilities.
BAM, January 1981

[Is creating music cathartic?] Absolutely. It's odd. Some people can only write and can only do that when they're really quite miserable. Other people need the confidence that the up times bring, you know, in order to draw out the sensitivity. Yeah, it's..it's uh, it's really what..just about all that I live for.
Off the Record, 1984

You have to allow yourself to be completely vulnerable. It's really important.… You have to allow yourself to be so vulnerable that the work will just dictate its needs to you.
Song Hits, May 1985

You’ve gotta take the risks. The reason to create, in my mind, is to experience the process of creating. The end result is important, but the end result should show what you’ve learned in the process. And, hopefully, that will be transmitted to whoever’s listening. If you’re good, you know you can be better, and it’s really your responsibility to pursue improvement and excellence relentlessly. You’ve got to use your talent, but the talent itself isn’t really worth that much unless you have a discipline and a passion for what you’re doing. You gotta keep going forward.
Scene Entertainment Weekly, August 1984

It's very difficult when you put yourself on the line. It takes a good deal of courage to keep doing it. Everytime you get through a project, you think, "Well, that's great, I really accomplished something." But on a day to day level, to keep the optimism that you can create something worthwhile is a rather tricky business. You know, courage isn't really the absence of fear. It's just sort of dealing with fear.
Song Hits, May 1985

Cocaine is not part of my style: I certainly have done my share, but I don’t buy it, I don’t like it; it’s not good for work. It might be good if you want to put yourself in the position of having to work twenty-four hours, but why do that? I work fourteen-hour days [in my studio] and I don’t need cocaine to do that; I can just do it on natural energy.

I do smoke pot. That’s the one thing that seems to...it’s not great for things like memory, but within the relative security of the studio, in the womblike atmosphere where I know what’s going on in there, it’s very helpful. It breaks down preconceptions you have about something; it allows you to hear it fresh. If you’ve been working on something for a few hours and you smoke a joint, it’s like hearing it again for the first time. You walk away for ten minutes and come back, and it allows you to keep coming back in for more and enjoy it. It seems to open a lot of the right-brain stuff. It seems to fire off a lot of things. For me, it’s tied into a certain ability to visualize. It puts you way inside it. I would imagine if you smoke a strong joint, it’s mildly psychadelic and it just puts you in touch with things. You journey inside. Things seem to come out of nowhere sometimes; it throws you a bit. You have to get unsure of yourself if you’re going to break down preconceptions, if you’re going to feel out of control. You’re never going to do a good piece of work if you’re just imposing your ego on something. But the other side of that, the alcohol, is something I’ve stopped doing. That and cocaine are not creative things.
Musicians In Tune by Jenny Boyd, 1992

My motivation has never been to make a lot of money. My motivation has been to be creative and make myself feel good and hopefully make other people feel good.
Song Hits, May 1985

I don’t think the artist is the best judge of that [how they should be remembered]. All we can do as artists is to try to care enough not to make records just for money, to try to care enough to keep improving our own craft, and uh, hopefully not do what is expected of rock’n’rollers...you know, they say rock’n’rollers have a career lifespan of only a certain number of years. I think if you take the care to take care of yourself and to keep improving, to keep one step ahead of what you’ve done before - and show that you care - that you’ll probably be able to keep going for quite a while, and keep being relevant to what’s going on. And if you can do that, I think that’s enough. I don’t think it’s our place to judge what it’s gonna all ultimately mean - I think everything is ultimately meaningless anyway.
BackBeat, 1982

I just feel very lucky to be doing something that I enjoy doing, to be able to have a livelihood which is creative and which is one that other people get enjoyment from as well as the people who are doing the creating.
Two on the Town, 1982

The main validity is actually doing the work. The validity of doing it myself, playing the instruments myself and just doing the album, really comes from the enjoyment of the work. What happens afterwards is of less consequence. Hopefully people will enjoy it. Hopefully it will be somewhat influential to certain people. And hopefully I will grow during the process. If you’re any good at all, you can always get better.
New Times, June 16-22, 1982

GUITARS

My guitar playing is my center.
Virtual Venue, August/September 1997

I can remember drawing guitars when I was about five. I used to spend hours and hours in my brother’s room listening to 45s. I was the black sheep in that way.
Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo, 1997

When Elvis broke through [chuckle], I think I was playing guitar that same year. I was 7 years old....I haven't been able to put it down [laugh].
Off the Record, 1984

[Do you remember the first time you decided to play guitar?] Not clearly. I just remember my mom trying to get me to take piano lessons for about six months. And it was a drag. I hated it. And the guitar had so much more potential. I think I started out with a little toy plastic guitar. And then the next Christmas they got me a little three-quarter size acoustic, which I had until I was about 12. Then I got a little Martin.
Interview, 1982

It’s all in the player really. Look at somebody like Hendrix. It didn’t matter what guitar he had or even if it was in tune. The thing is, if you can connect, you can get anything you want out of an instrument. There’s no dream instrument that could give you everything. You just have to use your imagination.
Rolling Stone, February, 1979

Before I joined Fleetwood Mac, I used a Fender Telecaster because it suited by finger-picking style. I wanted to use a Fender onstage when we first started playing live, but it didn’t fit into the texture of the piano sounds Christine [McVie] was getting, so I switched to a Gibson Les Paul. While a Telecaster sounds great from three feet away, the Les Paul sounds beefier to anyone sitting in the back of the hall.
Rolling Stone, February 1979

It was while Fleetwood Mac were recording Tusk that Rick brought the plans for the first one [Turner Model 1] down to the Village. Rick had worked for Alembic before then, but all the Alembic designs he brought me seemed too sterile. They had too much parametric EQ and were always heavy and didn't seem to me to play very nicely. So I told Rick, “Try to make me a guitar somewhere between those Alembics and the Les Paul I'm using.” He came up with a simpler design and brought those down while we were recording Tusk. I started using them on stage after the Tusk album was out. They were really suited to my style, because they had a little cleaner, more even sound than the Les Paul. A little more mature sound, if you will; more clearly articulated. It had tonal elements that I'd been missing ever since my Fender days.
Guitar World, September 1997

Years ago when we first joined the group, Mick kept trying to get me to use a pick and it just wasn’t something I could do. I don’t use a pick and it’s just been a part of my style all these years. And that’s a lot of it, is the fact that I use all four finger - or three fingers and a thumb, basically.
Rockline, 1992

My guitar playing has always been subservient to a good song. I would rather hear a strummed, beautiful chorded guitar to a good song than someone with incredible technique.
Innerview with Jim Ladd, 1981

See, I never played "lead," per se. I started playing guitar when I was seven years old, and I played rhythm chords to the old rock 'n' roll songs. Then I got into fingerpicking, and I was very good at melodic fingerpicking. But I never played lead until 1971, because when I was in Fritz I played bass. And the reason I played bass was because I couldn't go whoo-whoo at all. I couldn't play screaming lead. When I later started playing lead I was probably listening, oddly enough, to Peter Green, and then Clapton and some of those people - to cop the white blues licks. But that's about as deep as it goes - which isn't all that deep. I've always played lead begrudgingly, I'd say. There's not that much lead on the Tusk album, for that same reason. There's almost an underplaying of lead, to make people think, "Where's the leads?" I was just more interested in colors on that album. I'm getting better at it, though; there's some pretty decent leads on the live album.
Musician, Player and Listener, June 1981

So much of the playing comes out of just being in a state of mind where you're not conscious of what you're doing - it just comes out anyway. I'd never sit around and just try to play scales, I don't think. I probably should [laughs] - sometimes on stage I wish I had. I do a lot of thinking about the guitar, just in my head.
Musician, Player and Listener, June 1981

I wouldn’t call myself a really hot banjo player, but during those folk years when the initial rock and roll thing kind of fell off for me, that was an area that I found really interesting. And yeah, I did have a banjo and picked it up a little bit.
Up Close, 1997

[Why is your sound so unique? Nobody else sounds quite like you.] I guess no one else is stupid enough to sound like me! [laughs] I don’t know. Again, I mean, I started off listening to people like Scotty Moore who were playing on Elvis records and that was a sort of a fingerstyle, and then I got into Merle Travis and folk styles and bluegrass banjo, so all of that carried me through. I didn’t start playing lead guitar until I was in my 20s because I didn’t have the equipment and my style was more acoustic-based. And when I did finally join a band after high school, I didn’t have the equipment and someone else had the fuzz unit (laughs), and that was the logic back then - “whoever has the gear gets to play!” I guess you could say, when I did start playing lead, it was probably a combination of all the people who were playing a more ethereal style - even Peter Green, ironically - Peter Green, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour - people like that. To me that was an afterthought and I think of that as being the least, sort of, developed...or had been to that point, been the least developed part of my playing was a distinctive lead style. But it is really a combination of folk and early rock influences, and uh your post blues lead players, I guess.
Off the Record, 1992

I'm not a technical guitarist. It's not the most proficient style in the world, but hopefully it's something that has a certain feeling to it. There are tons of guitarists who can play circles around me in terms of speed, but I grew up not really wanting that. I always played rhythm, always in support of songs. I always played by myself (when I was younger), learning how to make a few chords work with a melody. I didn't really play lead until I was about 21, either. I played rhythm and fingerpicking styles, and orchestral style, which remains to a certain extent. My lead playing is somewhat of an extension of that. I played bass in a band for four or five years, for the simple reason that I couldn't play lead at the time. It all grows out of an orchestral style; I'd much rather play like Chet Atkins than Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was a great guitarist, but parts that you don't even notice on the records sometimes are the parts that I find the most sublime. People respond to (subtleties) even if they don't know what they're responding to. If they're not finely-tuned enough to really take the song apart, they're still responding to the overall effect. I think it's harder to do that well -- to do pop music well -- than it is to do rock 'n' roll, or at least the kind of rock 'n' roll you hear today. I don't think it's particularly well-crafted music, or even well-crafted playing. It's certainly not subtle or underplayed. Given a choice between being blatant and being subtle, I'd much rather be subtle. In my case, maybe that's the only way I can be.
The Record, April 1982

I’ve always believed that you play to highlight the song, no to highlight the player. The song is all that matters. There are two ways you can choose to go: You can try to be someone like Eddie Van Halen, who is a great guitar player, a virtuoso. Yet he doesn’t make good records because what he plays is totally lost in the context of his band’s music. Then there are players like Chet Atkins, who weren’t out there trying to show themselves off as guitar players per se, but were using the guitar as a tool to make good records. I remember loving Chet’s work when I was a kid, but it was only later, when I really listened to his guitar parts, that I realized how much they were a part of the songs’ fabric, and how much you’d be going, “Oh, that song just isn’t working,” if they weren’t there.
Guitar World Acoustic, No. 25, December 1997

In some ways, it’s much harder to come up with the perfect part than having great chops. And even though I might not get the same kind of recognition by playing for the song as I would for playing the flashy stuff, it’s in service of a higher ideal - a trade-off I’m very comfortable with.
Guitar World Acoustic, No. 25, December 1997

SONGWRITER

[In music] you get into things beyond technique; you start to move into things intangible. I don’t know what makes people have the quality that touches, but they must have taken something in their life that rings back true on the way out. Once I asked someone I respected, “Should I take music classes?” And he said, “Knowledge is always going to help, but you might stomp out something that is original about you; you’ll start second-guessing things that you do that might not be by the book but which are you.”
Musicians In Tune by Jenny Boyd, 1992

The emotion from my music doesn’t come so much from the lyric - or in some cases, at all from the lyric - and I don’t consider myself a poet in any sense of the word.... The emotion comes from the style and the music itself.
MTV, 1982

Music is a means of expression that rings truer and is more connected to things inside than speech.
Musicians In Tune by Jenny Boyd, 1992

I started writing late...I was more of a player. I didn't think of myself as an artist, more as someone who had guitar playing as a hobby and would go on to do something more sane and respectable. I don't think I even wrote a song until I was twenty-one. The first song I wrote, I think, was called Butterfly, and it was in the vein of something off [James Taylor's] Sweet Baby James.
Rolling Stone, May 2003

It's an interesting thing. In many ways, I still don't think of myself as a songwriter. I know I've written a lot of songs. I tend to think of myself as a stylist. I think that the way a lot of people do it is they come up with a tangible thing that you can call a lyric and a melody. Then they take it into a situation where it might evolve as a record. I might go in with fragments or ideas that are not well-fleshed out, or they're as well-fleshed out as I'm able to make them. And then I start to work the painting.
Performing Songwriter, May 2003

Lyrically, what happens is critics tend to assume that the creator of the piece of music was in total control, whereas, I think creators of music tend to come up with stuff off the tops of their heads-or maybe by the skin of their teeth! It’s more of a subconscious thing, not that it doesn’t have a meaning on some level..... So, if I had to describe what the entire album was about, I might be able to approach some things, but I don’t think I could, really.
Music Connection, September 1984

I try to write about what I know, as they say you should do. A lot of observations or emotional stances may be specifically about something that has happened to me, but I try to keep them slightly enigmatic in the sense that they aren’t so specific that people couldn’t, you know, relate them to whatever their situation might be.
VH1 to One, 1992

[What are you writing about?] Ah, just lust, longing, loneliness [grin]. Same old thing you always hear from me.
Rock Lives by Timothy White, 1991

I've learned so much from John and Mick. [In terms of what, since they don't write songs?] In terms of musical sense. Mick's musical sense is hard to pin down, because it's just such an instinctive thing. But in terms of just writing songs, that hasn't changed, no. For instance, Stevie will write her words, and everything will be central to that. That's good; sometimes I wish I could do that. Mine are usually central to a groove of some sort, and everything else will follow. That hasn't changed over all this time. A lot of rock 'n' rollers do that.
Musician, Player & Listener, 1981

[When I interviewed Stevie [Nicks] not too long ago she told me that you hate writing lyrics, that it’s a real struggle for you. Is that true?] I wouldn’t say I “hate” it. I do usually leave it until the end, but that’s just my orientation. I think usually in terms of rhythms and melodies first. I felt pretty good about the lyrics on my album and I like some of what I’ve written for Fleetwood Mac. Let’s put it this way: lyrics don’t come out of me like they do from Stevie. She just writes all the time. I express myself more through the colors in the music.
BAM Magazine, November 1981

Generally the lyrics would come after there’s a pretty strong structure.… Most of the time. Because the writing is so tied into the process of recording, it all becomes like strokes on a canvas. The work isn’t really just sitting down at a piano or guitar and rewriting the verse. The work is going in and “making a record.” In that sense, it’s a hell of a lot of work and you can spend six or seven months just on one song.
Songwriters on Songwritingby Paul Zollo, 1991, 1997

I’m very skeptical of trying to define what a lyric may be specifically for me because it might rob someone else of a different meaning. An example of that might be..uh...there’s a song called, Wrong. [It’s] sort of a slap on the hand of the generic rock types who tend to lose their perspective and act inappropriately because of it. And I’ve heard people ask me if that’s about George Bush!
VH1 to One, 1992

I’m interested in culminating a lot of music that has touched me since I was 3 or 4 years old. I suppose you could say there’s a time for input and a time for output. So that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing…. The music I’ve been listening to is pretty UN-mainstream - a lot of Chinese and Japanese music and some other South American things. I’ll buy the occasional mainstream thing - Bruce or U2 or whatever. But to try to adhere to the style-du-jour, whether it’s hip hop or rap, you know, at some point you’ve got to realize that you can’t always try to imitate what’s going on. And I feel that over the years I’ve kind of developed a sound that I can call my own and that I don’t really need to do that anymore. I think the most important thing for me right now is just to be true to myself.
Rockline, 1992

As rock moves further away from melody, I'd like to find new ways to bring melody back ... A lot of times while working alone here at my studio, I'd take 20-minute breaks and read some Whitman and the collected works of Dylan Thomas, to get a sense of how good lyrics should sound. And while my songs are not about a specific world view, they address the current lack of idealism or the inclination to act on that emotion.
Billboard, May 1992

[Has your songwriting changed since you had children?] It has certainly affected the way I feel. I think I've calmed down quite a bit [laughs]. I think that these are the best lyrics that I've ever written, without getting specific. There's a sense of safeness that now is part of my life, as part of a larger picture. Things that are more important than writing a song have made it easier to write better lyrics. And I think also that it's a skill that gets better the more you work on it, and I've tried to work on it....There is a kind of subconscious element that has kind of worked its way in, that makes it less about the neurosis of me and my needs, and more about an overview. It's still about me or us, though maybe a small group of us. More concern for trying to do the right thing, and not just a neurotic, selfish point of view, which was a lot of what Fleetwood Mac's dialogues to each other were always about [laughs].
Performing Songwriter, May/June 2003

I don't really think of myself as a commentator of anything. I just try to find a lyric that has some truth, grace, and mystery. Hopefully, it will bridge the line between something personal and something that's about the world in a broader sense.
Guitar Player, April 2003

I grew up listening to pop in general. And pop always tries to economize. I’ve always loved that about it.
Guitar World, September 1997

I really wasn’t listening to new wave that much [during the making of Tusk], but I think it did have an effect. All the new wave stuff has been real healthy, I think. So much of it accomplished what its makers set out to do-give people a kick in the ass. It was influential to me in that it made it more tangible for me to proceed with experimentation itself. It wasn’t a question of hearing a good song and then trying to emulate it. It instilled a sense of courageousness in me and solidified a lot of the ideas I had about my music.
BAM, January 1981

It [punk rock] encouraged me to see that there were other things going on that resonated with ideas that I’d been having....I’d bring in a record by the Clash, or even something like Talking Heads, and the others were just turned off by it. I guess because it was young and enthusiastic, and maybe not at as high a level of musicianship. It wasn’t as mature as the rest of the band saw themselves. But that music was so open to new ideas, and that’s what got me.
Guitar World, September 1997

I think it’s important to try to push what the limits are of traditional pop. I think it’s important to, in a sense, even confound people’s expectations as to what pop is or could be...to some degree.
Faces, March 1984

I’m trying to break down preconceptions about what pop music is. I’m struggling to be original.
Rolling Stone, November 1984

I’ve heard a lot of people say that my stuff is really self-indulgent. Maybe it is, I don’t know. I just try to look for new things and hope the consequences aren’t too horrendous.
Los Angeles Times, August 1984

[What about his old pop dream? He once stated that if he were ever able to write a song as beautiful as Brian Wilson’s God Only Knows, then he would be satisfied with his career. Does he feel he’s accomplished that yet?] Oh no. I’m not even close. But I no longer think writing something of that quality is necessarily gonna be the be-all-to-end-all. I mean, there’s the story about Paul McCartney telling Brian Wilson that that was the best song ever written, or something like that, and then Brian locked himself in a closet, crying, because he thought that meant he’d never write anything that good again. So, I don’t know [smiling]. I’m not sure that at this point in time I want to write a song that great. You know what I mean?
International Musician and Recording World, December 1984

[What song do you wish you had written?] Anything by Burt Bacharach, or Lennon and McCartney form a certain point on. No one will do those kind of things any better. But then on the other side, God, I wish I had written Louie, Louie.
Rolling Stone, May 2003

[Do you have a favorite song of your own?] Well [affecting the voice of an old man], they’re all my children you know. I don’t know. I like the stuff off of Tusk quite a bit.
Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo, 1991, 1997

[I get the feeling especially with songs like Soul Drifter that you would have been happy to be a tunesmith. Work at the Brill Building in New York writing songs for shows and singers.] Oh yeah, I have great respect and fascination for all that stuff. In some ways I mourn its passing. Just the fact that you had people who sat around and wrote. They weren't responsible for interpreting it or singing it most of the time. There is a great strength in that that you don't find so much anymore. The Beatles came in and were totally self-sufficient and that was not something that we all do as well as that. Everyone since then has felt that they needed to write their own material. In some ways maybe the quality of what we listen to, on pop radio anyway, has suffered because of that, or at least it's been redefined. I think it's great...the image of a bunch of great writers just sitting around and you can hear each other through the wall - I mean, that's wonderful stuff.
Off the Record, 1992

There are those who say that rock and roll is basically an immature form and that you can only take it so far and then you’re done with it and you’ve got to move on to something else, and I think that that’s not really the case. You just have to keep growing in ways that, you know, that you look for and it’s your responsibility to seek out.
Off the Record, 1992

[You can hear it all over this disc - you’re still in love with rock ‘n’ roll.] I am. I wonder what the future is, where music is going, because it’s an awfully strange world. But yes, music saved my life. And I’d probably be in prison if I hadn’t been doing this. With all the energy I had to put out? I’d never make it in some job where I had to conform too much.
Guitar One, June 2003

PRODUCTION

I love to be in the studio. That’s what I like to do best.
Rolling Stone, November 1984

I feel my main function for Fleetwood Mac has always been as a producer...and to create a very creative atmosphere in the studio - a very positive atmosphere that probably wouldn’t be there without me, because I generally get excited about being in the studio.
Innerview with Jim Ladd, 1981

[I]f I were to pick one thing as my main contribution to the group, it wouldn’t be as a guitar player, a singer or a songwriter, it would be as someone who could take raw material and forge it into something complete. I guess to some degree with more success than I can do with my own material a lot of times. If you heard the way some of their songs sounded in their raw state, and tried to make sense out of them...my contribution was to give them form and balance these things with what they would all have to offer....

I didn’t start writing until I was 21, but having had the guitar as an appendage, in a way, was so ingrained in me, that by the time I got into the idea of listening to parts and seeing how they fit together I wasn’t also trying to overcome all the hurdles of learning to become a guitar player. The first thing that got me into the line that I’m on now is that I went out and got a Sony two-track tape recorder that had sound on sound, and you could bounce back and forth....I remember at that age going down to Eber Hi-Fi and asking “do you have like 4-track tape recorders?” and they’re looking at me like, “what are you, kidding?" Because at that time something like that didn’t exist. And when I finally did get a 4-track, I got an Ampex AG440 with 1/2” tape which I managed to buy because an aunt that I never met, left myself and my two brothers a house which resold for about $40,000. We split that three ways, so out of the blue I was able to afford a $4,000 tape machine.

So I put that up in my father’s coffee plant in Daly City and every night I’d drive up after he left and I’d just work until midnight or 1:00 putting my own material and some of Stevie’s down. And I guess that whole Les Paul sensibility really just sort of became that much more a part of me. Then you start to understand how parts fit together and the jigsaw of all of it. You know, you can apply that back to a band situation pretty easily.... [A]s far as arrangements are concerned, in Fleetwood Mac I approached the work from an orchestral standpoint. I wanted to find parts that were good for the song itself, and that made sense for the record, but they didn’t necessarily stand out.
Recording, Engineering, and Production, August 1992

[Writing's] never come easy. It’s the hardest thing for me. I could produce people all day standing on my head. All that stuff is just playing to me; it’s pretty easy. But writing is very hard.
Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo, 1997

I gotta tell you, sometimes I’d rather be just on the other side of the glass, so to speak, and producing. I think sometimes I’m the most happy doing that. I mean, writing songs tends to riddle you with anxiety sometimes [laughs] because it’s very difficult to do. I don’t think anyone who’s a writer...most people who are writers would tell you it’s not an easy thing to do. And one of the best things that I can do is produce.
Source Special, 1981

There’s no real defining what [a peak experience] is. It becomes magical; it’s very uplifting. It can happen while playing an instrument. The process of my writing is so tied in with working on a twenty-four-track or two twenty-four-track machines and overdubbing. It becomes a painter and his canvas. You go in with certain preconceptions in mind, but when you have that intimate one-to-one with the canvas, you may impose a certain thing on it, but at some point it will start taking on a life of its own and speaking to you about what’s needed. That kind of rapport on a one-to-one can provide very thrilling moments, euphoric moments.

When you lock into a track you’re playing, it’s sort of a unidimensional thing. You may lock into a certain emotional tone, a sort of resonance of some kind. Two tangents meeting is usually one of the points that produces creativity; two things that don’t necessarily relate [begin] co-relating and forming something else. That happens more tangibly in the studio, where you suddenly see shapes, and that kind of thing can go on in multiples. It happens less on lyrics than it does with the form, the shape, and the color - the emotional tone of the music. The initial inspiration feels like it’s coming through me. By the time I get it down, that is sometimes gone, but as things evolve, it happens [again]. It has to happen more than once in the process.
Musicians In Tune by Jenny Boyd, 1992

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Jackson Pollock paintings before...he threw away his brushes? They’re (the paintings) making this attempt to get to this sense of something, and he can feel it with his body...and he can see it in his mind...and he’s not getting there! And then suddenly, one day, he says, “Well, screw this!” And he throws the canvas down on the floor and he starts dripping paint on it and you see this tremendous sense of release and energy! And that’s, you know, a fairly apt analogy, I think, to what can happen in music as well if you sort of break through barriers and find new ways to work with colors.
Innerview with Jim Ladd, 1984

You have to allow yourself to get totally drawn into the music. Once you're there, the hardest thing to do is let yourself do anything outside that. I'd come out of my basement studio after about six hours, and Carol, my girlfriend, would be sitting in the living room watching TV or something, and I just wouldn't have much to say. My mind would be racing. I love it.
Rolling Stone, February 1980

You know, Picasso says, “Take this, this and this, and make a piece of art out of it.” The point is, if you have the sense, the strength, and the vision, you can do it. It transfers over to music. I consider myself to be a colorist. You have a blank canvas you start off with. You have the flexibility to start in any corner you want. You don’t have to start even with a melody or a song. You work with colors.
Rockbilll, November 1984

I’ve never been one who’s that able to talk about inner feelings that much, so... [Do you have a hard time expressing that, to let’s say, a male friend, that kind of camaraderie?] Well, if it gets too bad, then I’ll have to... I’ll start opening up. But I’ll keep a lot to myself and hope that it works itself out. I mean, Stevie is really just the opposite. She’s such a total romantic and her songs reflect that, you know? Everything is a very specific image of poetry that lends itself to her whole vision of life, you know. My expression is in a less direct sense - one of expressing maybe a vast array of emotions through colors and through music...and through playing. Through yelling and screaming. [Laughs].
Innervew with Jim Ladd, 1981

Quite often, you can hear, pretty much, a whole way you want something to be - which is pretty weird actually [laughs] - get this guy to the nuthouse!
Off the Record, 1992

For me, a lot of the message is in the form of the music. If you really wanted to understand a classical piece, you would be listening to the way the parts work together. In some ways, the construction of what I'm doing is as much the message as anything else. This album may be the most sophisticated thing I've ever done. Some people will hear that, and some people won't.
San Diego Tribune, March 1993

I have a good time on stage but the challenge of being on the road, the repetition of being on stage every night, is to try to appear fresh. Being in the studio is far more of a growing process or a creative process. I enjoy working on my own as well. When you’re playing all the instruments like I do, it’s a far more intimate relationship than a band situation. I think in a couple of years I’ll be producing more. I think the recording studio is just like another instrument...if you play it properly. It’s just like what Phil Spector was doing. He understood that. It’s very important to have that sensibility, in pop anyway. I’m a studio animal. I consider myself to be a colorist.
Faces, March 1984

ARTWORK

I'm real insecure about what I do. Having something else to do besides music that you can do all right sort of makes you feel all right about the music. Most artists are insecure, I suppose. Insecure overachievers.
Rolling Stone, February 1980

You know, Picasso says, “Take this, this and this, and make a piece of art out of it.” The point is, if you have the sense, the strength, and the vision, you can do it. It transfers over to music. I consider myself to be a colorist. You have a blank canvas you start off with. You have the flexibility to start in any corner you want. You don’t have to start even with a melody or a song. You work with colors.
Rockbill, November 1984

There are many, many similarities between the visuals...the musicality of what film is about, and the way its cut together, the way the camera moves. There's much, much that I can draw from watching great films that will inspire me musically.
Charlie Rose, September 2003

I once read an interview with Hirschfeld, the famous illustrator, who said his best caricatures are the ones that capture the whole personality in one continuous line. That's sort of what I'm after, too. I like thinking visually of the various musical parts and how they fit together. It's like a jigsaw.
Out of the Cradle press kit, 1992

Yeah. There are a few songs like that where I tried to break the melody down into facets. The analogy would be cubism, where you have an image, but you've broken it all down into smaller bits from different points of view. You're not trying to create something that looks real; you're accentuating the artificiality of it. And that's what I was trying to do. On Come I also did that, where you have half of a line that's here, and it has a certain vocal effect on it, and then the second half of the line has a totally different sound on it. So it has this forced dimensional thing.
Acoustic Guitar, October 2003

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Jackson Pollock paintings before he threw away his brushes? They’re making this attempt to get to this sense of something, and he can feel it with his body and he can see it in his mind and he’s not getting there! And then suddenly, one day, he says, “Well, screw this!” And he throws the canvas down on the floor and he starts dripping paint on it and you see this tremendous sense of release and energy! And that’s, you know, a fairly apt analogy, I think, to what can happen in music as well if you sort of break through barriers and find new ways to work with colors.
Innerview with Jim Ladd, 1984

FAVORITE THINGS

I like to read biographies about people who have made a mark in history. It’s nice to read what they went through. Lately, I’ve read books on Edward R. Murrow and Charlie Chaplin. [Hobbies?] Drawing, swimming and movies. I love to watch a film 10 or more times and really take it apart.
Daily News, 1992

City Lights, directed by Charlie Chaplin (1931). I'd always thought of him as the little tramp with the sped-up walk. It took me a while to get on the wavelength of his old silent movies, but I was in awe of this movie and the number of sketches in which the detail and invention are so rich. It blows me away.
Guitar World, July 2003

[Lindsey's "essential" listening?] The Beach Boys - Today. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band: I think it had a lot to do with me thinking it was okay to be that rude in my own songs [laughs]. Any collection of Elvis Presley stuff: I wouldn't be here at all without Elvis Presley and without my older brother who bought the record of Heartbreak Hotel. Before that it was Patti Page [laughs]. Any number of Beatles albums, maybe Revolver or Rubber Soul. Laurie Anderson - Big Science.
Performing Songwriter, May 2003

I also enjoy ethnic folk music, Hungarian and Russian stuff.
Mojo, August 1998

I go see Arrested Development, U2, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M., you know. I also like a lot of the younger bands like Pearl Jam.
Los Angeles Times, March 1993

[M]y main thing for the last few months has been Radiohead's OK Computer. I was aware of singles they'd had, but I'd never heard a whole album of theirs before. On a textural level, there's just some incredible stuff on there, and the feeling that he has in his voice is just great. I think it's brilliant.
Mojo, August 1998

[What's in your cd player?] Oh, geez, um...The White Stripes, Eminem, um, I have not yet gotten it, but I'm very much interested in getting Queens of the Stone Age, um, which I've heard the single, the song, the radio song, whatever it would be called and I love that.
Dallas radio interview on 102.9, May 2003

[If you were to play one Fleetwood Mac song in the morning, what would it be?] I guess you could always fall back on Don’t Stop. It’s harder to respond to a question like that when it’s you who’s made the music. But that’s one that goes across the board as an uplifting message.
VH1, May 2003

[Have you heard Barney's Colorful World yet? Because you have two kids, right?] Probably. Probably so. Actually, my favourite is the Wiggles. I don't know if you're familiar with them. They're sort of a weird combination of Teletubbies and Star Trek.
Dallas radio interview on 102.9, May 2003

[What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album?]
I've gone back to Pet Sounds recently, for the music but also for the aspiration of getting off the selling machine and trying to follow your bliss. That's a difficult thing for any of us who have been a selling machine. It's very hard to walk away from it totally....[What is your favourite Saturday night record?] Party music or aspiring to be dumb. Louie Louie is maybe the greatest dumb record of all time, all animal energy without those guys really having much of a clue what they were doing. [And your favourite Sunday morning record?] Chamber music, like Mozart. Something very light always feels like morning music to me.
Mojo, August 1998

Theme from A Summer's Place, Percy Faith. I remember being a kid and doing things with my family after dinner as this played on a portable radio. The melody is simple but beautiful, and a little schmaltzy. It still moves me, partly because I'm connected to how I felt about it as a kid.
Guitar World, July 2003

A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procul Harum. There were a lot of songs based on classical themes back then. But there’s something really transcendent about how Procul Harum integrate Bach’s Air on a G String into this one. It still makes me cry every time I hear it. It’s got a sophisticated level of production, particularly for its time, and yet they’re still dealing with the limitations of the technology. Great drum performance. Great vocals, too. It’s like a classical soul song.

God Only Knows, The Beach Boys. This song marked the point where Brian Wilson stepped away from the band and started following his own muse. That meant not following the wishes of his record company, which probably would have liked him to make surf music well into his forties. This song is one of the most perfectly crafted pieces of pop music ever - the greatest example of his latent Phil Spector mini-symphony tendencies. This was the first album where he brought in the Wrecking Crew (a group of premier L.A. session players) and started to use multiples of musicians, like five guitarists or three drummers, the way that Spector had. Yet he made it his own thing. His production sensibilities really influenced me, especially on Fleetwood Mac albums like Mirage and even Tango in the Night.

Almost Grown, Chuck Berry. Remember that time capsule they sent up into space a few years ago with all those examples of great works of art, including rock and roll? Well, the story is that, years later, they got this message back saying, "Send more Chuck Berry!" As an artist, Chuck Berry was one of the first people to not only write his own songs, but to also have an original guitar style that went with it. So he did it all. This is not the first song most people would think of by him, but there’s something special about it. It’s not quite gospel, but there’s this kind of call-and-response thing to it. It’s more repetitive and rocks a little more. I mean, all his songs rock in different ways, but this one always gets my toe tapping to the max.

I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Frank Sinatra. This is from the mid Fifties, after he’d gone through some bad times and re-emerged with a lower voice that showed the wear and tear, and that was obviously the quintessential Frank. The arrangement is by Nelson Riddle, who I always thought was the best guy for him. And it’s at the top of my list of Cole Porter songs, too. Frank had a way with rhythm, a way of waiting a beat - and phrasing behind what you might expect. That creates a great tension, whether you’re a vocalist or a guitarist. And he had a command and presence that was unrivaled in saloon singers - which is what he called himself.

God, John Lennon. "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." It’s such an out idea, especially these days. Actually, Mother, or anything off that album nailed me to the wall because the guy was being so honest. He was way ahead of his time. The material may make more sense in the Nineties, when we’re more therapy-friendly - nobody was dealing with this stuff back then. Lennon had been through his primal therapy and was coming to deal with a lot of abandonment issues. The album was also very ahead of its time, musically. The crudeness of it, the way lots of mistakes were just left in, sounds great today. He wasn’t afraid to get out there and be brutally honest about the most vulnerable subjects that he had to offer. There’s pain, but there’s release, too. It took a lot of courage to make that album.

Anyone Who Had a Heart, Dionne Warwick. This song is by Burt Bacharach, and I can’t think of a composer who writes on that level having his songs more fully realized by a singer: Dionne Warwick was born to sing those songs. Bacharach would write in constantly shifting time signatures and make it work on a musical level. He wrote very conversationally, if you think about it, because that’s the way we talk. The music really implied the emotions behind the words. And from what I understand, Bacharach had everything to do with producing those records. As a composer, I could choose any of his songs; Walk on By, for instance. But this one seems to really hit a high emotional pitch.

Not Dark Yet, Bob Dylan. I’m not well versed in all of Dylan’s work, but I was really curious about this album. I sat up with my girlfriend and listened to it all the way through. The ballads are remarkable, particularly this one. The whole album is like watching the sun go down. It’s a night album, a turn-off-most-of-the-lights kind of album. Dylan’s voice is a little craggy, and it’s so resonant with what he’s saying. There’s such a sense of acceptance on this one, I had tears streaming down my face when it was over. And if you stay with the whole album, there’s a sense of resolution and a possibility of transformation by the time you get to Highlands, the last cut. Daniel Lanois’ production has some very effective arrangements, particularly the one on this song - it’s perfect. He has someone play something very repetitive around what Dylan is singing. It sounds like a volume pedal guitar, and it never changes. But it’s so hypnotic, it puts the whole song right into focus.

Blue Monday, Fats Domino. Fats made that whole New Orleans thing palatable for a broader audience, and yet he was always a little sideways somehow. Blue Monday is just so committed to an approach. The bridge is ridiculous - everybody’s going "da-da-da-da" for a really long time. Then it releases, and you’re going, "Oh, yeah!" It’s the essence of everything that was great about those New Orleans R&B hits.

I Saw Her Standing There, The Beatles. When you think of the Beatles, it’s usually about the sophisticated way they used pop elements and whatever they were being turned on to by George Martin to do things that hadn’t been done before. This one is just a standard three-chord song, but it’s also a rock and roll classic. It still explodes at you when you hear it today. There was even a live version on the first Beatles Anthology album that made me go, "Oh my God, these guys could really play." It represents in its earliest and most naïve incarnation, all the buoyancy the Beatles had to offer.

Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley. I was six years old at the time this came out, and I remember my brother talking about this new guy, Elvis. I remember trying to envision him - I thought of him in tails or a tux or something. I didn’t quite get the visuals. [laughs] When this record came on it just jumped out of the speakers and blew me away. This was the song that broke rhythm and blues or rock and roll, whatever you want to call it, through to a mass white audience. A lot of kids heard that song and wanted to get guitars and learn how to play, and I was one of them. And the rest is history.
Guitar World, April 1998