It's been 30 years since Fleetwood Mac had astounding success with the album "Rumours." Lindsey Buckingham, the creative force behind much of that record, is only just now starting to process the after-effects of being in the biggest band in the world as his own world was falling apart.
"There was a long period of time in the post-Fleetwood Mac environment where I wasn't sure what that all meant, why we went through that exercise," Buckingham said by phone last week. He plays Sunday at the Flynn Center.
Sure, the band members made lots of money, but they paid a price. "Everyone was damaged," Buckingham said. "Emotionally speaking I was completely remote. There was this sense of alienation that existed. Your comfort area was your work."
The story behind the making of "Rumours," which sold an amazing 16 million copies and spawned hits such as "Go Your Own Way" and "Don't Stop," is a famous one. Mick Fleetwood was in the midst of a divorce, as were John and Christine McVie. The romantic relationship between Buckingham and Stevie Nicks was in its death throes.
"It's a complex thing. I don't think anyone would tell you it was a big party," Buckingham said. He was seeing Nicks every day, writing hits that helped the vocalist raise her star profile, yet was finding no time for closure for their relationship. Meanwhile, the opportunities her increasing popularity gave her created a different dynamic for Nicks as her relationship with Buckingham crashed. "That's just another form of a drug that probably allowed her situation in the short term to be easier to get through," he said.
"Down On Rodeo" is another track on "Under the Skin" that reflects Fleetwood Mac's heady days, with lyrics such as "After the music ended there was/Nowhere to go but down" and "We never took quite enough chances we/Never had quite enough time."
"It's sort of looking at relationships that go by the wayside," both romantic and musical relationships, Buckingham said. A band can be successful commercially and critically, but he said "it doesn't mean you're having internal success."
Buckingham, 57, still plays with Fleetwood Mac in its on-again, off-again incarnations. He said he gained the clarity to put his early days with the band in perspective in the past decade, since marrying and having three children.
"That's been a gift, which I was fairly sure was not going to happen," he said. His new life changed his priorities and put him in an emotional place to answer old questions. He found new warmth and intimacy. Several songs on the new album, including "Flying Down Juniper" and "It Was You," reflect Buckingham's newfound status as a family man.
He said he and his wife, Kristen, both came to their relationship with walls built up to hide old wounds. They were able to tear each other's walls down and see clearly.
"As the light comes through," he said, "the world starts to look different in its entirety."