Lindsey Buckingham smiles as he considers how his successful, yet storm-tossed days with his fellow stars in the rock-and-roll soap opera known as Fleetwood Mac have changed over the years.

"Well, it still feels like an opera - it's certainly got an operatic proportion to it," he says. "But the soap's all gone, I guess. I hope."

"That's very good," says Mick Fleetwood, leaning across the couch to give Buckingham a hearty slap on the back. "I'm going to use that."

"Stevie [Nicks] and I are learning to be different people to each other - it's all good," Buckingham continues. "There's still a great deal of love between all of us - maybe more real love than ever, because, before it was pushed down by other things, by competitiveness, by the lifestyles we were living in the '70s and '80s as a microcosm of the music industry, and other outside forces. Now, it's very close to the surface. You could get any one of us to break down in tears if you said the right thing."

Perhaps a discussion of "Say You Will" is in order?

"That was it," Buckingham says, pretending to burst into tears, as Fleetwood consoles him - one of many examples during a recent afternoon in a midtown Manhattan hotel suite that shows the partnership the duo rekindled in the past few years stretches beyond music.


Buckingham says he needed to leave Fleetwood Mac to grow as an artist and as a person. ("I also needed to get closure about breaking up with Stevie," he adds.) With "Say You Will," Buckingham feels like he has a fresh start. "I felt like completing this project was vindication for going away," he says.

Nicks may sum up the situation best in "Thrown Down," one of the many future singles that will no doubt keep "Say You Will" near the top of the album charts for quite some time. "Maybe now he could prove to her that he could be good for her/That they should be together," sings Nicks, who has admitted that the song is, in part, about Buckingham. "You say you're sorry/ Now you should walk away, but it's so overwhelming."

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