Fleetwood Mac - Classic Rock Magazine (June 2003)

Bassist John McVie has decided he doesn’t want to take part in today’s interviews with Classic Rock and other sections of the international media, but genial drummer and Mac founder member and linchpin Mick Fleetwood is game for a chat, as are the American contingent of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. We’ve been told by the band’s record company WEA that the latter won’t be doing their interviews together, but that we shouldn’t read anything into that. Being journalists, however, we read plenty into it –mainly that rock’s great soap opera seems to have plenty of episodes left.

Buckingham: “Howard has his formulas and he’s very much in control of certain aspects of the business side. He’s not really concerned with anything creative, he’s concerned with getting this project up and running and making Stevie the money that he feels he wants to make her. There’s a strength to that, but there’s also a weakness to it. That approach was less of a problem with something like The Dance, but with an album like this, which I feel transcends all of that… well let’s just say I sense there’s something large looming up ahead. Whether that turns out to be that case, I don’t know.”

In the words of Lenny Kravitz: it ain’t over till it’s over. And in the words of Jeff Buckley: ‘It’s never over/A kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder’. The point I’m trying to make is this: even though it’s many, many years since any members of Fleetwood Mac were romantically involved with each other, the love triangle that once involved Buckingham, Nicks and Fleetwood still seems to exert an influence on the band’s dynamic. In fact how could it not?

Certainly it’s there in the new album’s lyrics. Or at least it seems to be; and you suspect that we’re supposed to think it is. Can it really be mere coincidence that Buckingham’s Say Goodbye (‘I let you slip away/There was nothing I could do/That was so long ago/Still I often think of you’) closes the album in conjunction with Nicks’s Goodbye Baby? (‘Goodbye baby/I hope your heart’s not broken/Don’t forget me/Yes, I was outspoken’)? Extremely doubtful. Time to ask some more searching questions.

“Thrown Down is about Lindsey,” Nicks says candidly. “But I wrote that around the time of The Dance tour. Suffice to say that there are new songs about him too. It’s terrific that {he} continues to be a well of inspiration.”

It would be easy to infer that her friendship with Lindsey is stronger than it’s been for a while. As for whether she herself would say that: “Um… Lindsey and I’s relationship is sort of the same. We work together and write together. He quit in 1983 and was gone. Then he came back in 1987 for about half a year and we made Tango In The Night, which none of us were very much a part of {tell that to Buckingham or Christine McVie!}. He quit again right after that, and then I didn’t see him until we played together at President Clinton’s inauguration, which was like two days. 

“Then we did a song together for the movie Twister in 1996, and then I didn’t see him until we went into rehearsal for The Dance in 1997. We’ve been apart for gazillions of years now. And as I tell him: ‘You have to understand that when I come in with a pretty-much finished demo, that’s because you haven’t been in my life. I had to go and learn how to make music without you.’ And I did. And I learned it very well; I don’t always need Lindsey to make my music come true.”

Lindsey Buckingham is now 53 years of age. Although he once thought he’d never have children, he and his wife Kristen now have a four-year-old son, Will, and a two-year-old daughter, LeeLee. Asked whether he thinks people still tend to assume that he and Nicks’s lyrics are about each other, he responds thus: I’m sure they do. And in Stevie’s case at least some of them may be about me. I suspect some of them are. Then again,” he laughs, “there are songs that Stevie has written all throughout our relationship which I assumed were about me, then discovered that they weren’t or that they were hybrids. I can be as confused about that as the general listener, believe me.”

And his friendship with Stevie – would he say it’s stronger now than it’s been for a while?

“In some ways it is. But right now it’s a little tricky. Towards the end of the album we had some problems with the running order, and there were some issues with that that got Stevie and I into some over-the-phone conflicts. She was in Hawaii on location, and I was here in LA trying to master the album. It got difficult.

“You know, it’s been hard for Stevie to feel good about what we’ve accomplished with this record. And I really hope she will at some point. She’s yet to say: ‘Good work on my songs Lindsey’, even though that was basically what we were working on for the last year. She wasn’t that way at the start of the record, and she wasn’t that way in the middle of it. But I don’t really know what goes on with that. It’s all off and on.”

It’s been a fascinating time at Culver City Studios. But although I’ve just witnessed another installment of rock’s greatest and most gripping soap opera, it’s not quite a wrap. The closing, six million dollar question goes to Lindsey Buckingham. And, to his credit, he actually tries to answer it honestly. The question I put to him is this; which would he rather have saved - Fleetwood Mac or his relationship with Stevie?

"Oh boy. What an interesting question. What a tough question" he says seemingly not quite sure how best to answer it. And then eventually: "I'm 53, with a beautiful wife and two beautiful children, so I can't say that my life has gone any other way than the way it was supposed to."

So destiny rules? I ask, name-checking one of those Stevie Nicks songs that sounds like it could be about him.

Buckingham laughs. "Yes"