WW: Your comments about Rumours II tie into some lines from your new song “Bel Air Rain,” and I hope I transcribed them correctly. As I heard them, they went, “In my younger days, I was mistaken for a whore/I guess you could say I lived in chains/But everyone’s peace lives side by side with their war.” It would be easy to interpret that as you suggesting that the popularity of Rumours caused some people to cast you in the guise of a human jukebox, nothing more than a superficial pop guy, but you were much more than that, and you didn’t want to be limited to playing that sort of part. Am I on the right track at all?
LB: Yeah, I think there was a point in time that’s sort of hard to put into context now. But probably before Stevie [Nicks] and I joined Fleetwood Mac, there were many things I was doing as applications musically that got pared way down. You join a band, and you do what you do to fit into that. And Fleetwood Mac was an existing band with a bass player [John McVie] who had a distinctive style and a keyboard player [Christine McVie] who had a distinctive style. And I had to do what I could to fill the holes. By doing that, I was paring back on what I naturally would do by a great deal most of the time.
And so maybe to some degree I was feeling like a whore myself. That’s overstating it, because Fleetwood Mac was a great chemistry of people, and the synergy made it something that was larger than any one person. But then you put yourself a few years later into this really mega-experience that was Rumours, and in my perception, there was a point where the success of that album became not so much about the music but about the success. Or about the musical soap opera that was the subtext. The tabloidism. I’m just glad we weren’t doing that now, at a point where that tabloid machinery would have exploited us to death.
I had some reservations about that kind of success and what it really meant. And then you throw into that the convolution of politics that existed in Fleetwood Mac. There’s a whole range of sensibilities. On some level, we probably didn’t have any business being in a band together, we were so different. But as I said, there was that synergy that made it greater than the sum of its parts.
By the way, the line isn’t “in chains.” It’s “in shame.”
WW: “In shame”? Oh… As you can imagine, when I thought the word was “chains,” I was really thinking about Rumours. [One of the album’s best songs is entitled “The Chain.”]
LB: Yes, I see that. But the allusion is not that different, and what you’re arriving at isn’t different for me by changing that word. It generalizes it out more. But it’s true. And in those days especially, we all had moments of peace, but mostly we had moments of war – and war side by side with peace creates ambiguity. And there was really a great deal of ambiguity in my world during those days.
LB: So those two songs [Gift of Screws/Wait For You] are, like, ten years old, or more. And then there’s one other one called “Right Place to Fade,” which is more from 2002, maybe, or 2000. And those three songs were in a grouping of songs that was going to be a solo album. It was going to be called Gift of Screws, actually. And then again, the band had a sort of intervention and wanted to make a studio album, and the greater part of that body of work got folded over into the album Say You Will. And these were sort of the stragglers waiting to find a home.
WW: They don’t sound like stragglers. They sound like they should have been first in line…
LB: Well, it’s funny, isn’t it? Something like “Gift of Screws” probably scared Stevie a little bit, and probably didn’t fit into the overall fabric of what that album was. I don’t know what happens, but that’s just the way it works sometimes.
WW: In contrast, what are the most recent compositions on the album?
LB: Most of the other stuff – “Great Day,” “Time Precious Time,” which is probably even more recent than “Great Day,” “Did You Miss Me,” which is very recent, “Bel Air Rain,” “Treason,” “Underground” – all of those have been written in the last year and a half, I would say.
WW: You mentioned “Right Place to Fade.” When the song opened up, I thought of “Second Hand News” [from Rumours]…
LB: Yes, yes. Absolutely.
WW: Was that an allusion to your past work? Since so many other folks allude to it all the time, did you feel it was okay to do that as well?
LB: It wasn’t a conscious thing. It’s just the way that song evolved. There are a few songs like that. Not as literally so, but you could probably make some references back to “Go Your Own Way” [also from Rumours] in the song “Love Runs Deeper.” So yeah, there are a few songs that have reference points back to Fleetwood Mac. But it wasn’t intended to be some kind of a riff on the other song. There’s only a certain number of things we do, and that was a song that had Mick playing on it, and subject-matter-wise, it involved the idea of letting down barriers, whether they were barriers toward Fleetwood Mac or they were just personal barriers. The limitations you put on yourself in terms of the way you’ve lived your life. So there may have been some kind of subconscious