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The world lost a special songwriting talent when Christine McVie died on November 30, 2022. Below is a list of every songwriting credit I can find for her (co-writers, if any, are in parentheses). After the list, I provide my ten favorite songs of her. Some of my links are to their songs I first heard on their Live album.
Does anyone else find it funny that Sweet Revenge and Forgiveness are found in succession on her In the Meantime album? Anyhoo . . . .
Top Ten List
I’m a Fleetwood Mac nut. That said, I like to say that I was raised on Rumors, so my bias is clearly for the classic line up of Buckingham, Fleetwood, McVie x2, and Nicks. Rumors was the first album my brother owned, and Live was the first album I owned, so I listened to them both incessantly. They’re both remarkably important to me, and yet none of Christine’s songs off of Rumors made it into my top five. Go figure.
The Chain is not on this list because Christine’s songwriting credit is diluted by the fact that everyone in the band has a songwriting credit to it. But that’s a damn fine song too, and I was thrilled that it got so much screen time in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
I received Mirage on vinyl for Christmas in 1982. This song starts off with a lyric that was downright jarring, so I skipped the song every time I was listening to the album. After a month or two, I let the album play nonstop and heard the whole thing. That’s a month without this song I’ll never get back. That specific lyric, which is repeated in every chorus, still has a bit of that jarring effect on me, but the bridge more than makes up for it.
This is Christine’s only song from her solo career that makes this list, but not her only non-Fleetwood Mac song to do so (see #5). Definitely an 80s song, and definitely an 80s video. I turned 12 in 1980 and 21 in 1989, so you can imagine why this is right up my alley. The video seems to capture Christine’s style in a different, non-big-hair way. She wasn’t flamboyant but rather stood on the strength of her music. This worked far better in the context of a band than as a solo artist, which is why Lindsey and (especially) Stevie had stronger solo careers. Still, that foundation of great songwriting is something you shouldn’t miss. Click through a few of the links on this post and give her a listen.
As I mentioned above, you’d think all of Christine’s songs from Rumors would make this list, and yet this is the only one. It’ll probably be even more surprising in light of the fact that, when I first heard Rumors, You Make Loving Fun became my favorite song by any artist. I could always listen to it at home, but when I was old enough to, for example, go to roller-skating rinks (it was the late-70s, early-80s, kids), I’d always request it from the DJs. If I was in a restaurant with a juke box, I’d give my last quarter to play it. Yet over time, the song fell further down the list of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, and even on my list of Christine-written songs. Still, if you look at only Christine’s songs, it makes the top ten. How could it not?
When the average person (i.e., non-Fleetwood Mac maniac, assuming any such person exists) thinks of Tango in the Night, they probably think of four songs (whether by name or by melody): Big Love, Seven Wonders, Everywhere, and Little Lies. Big Love and Everywhere are hard to forget considering that they were given new life to new, younger audiences by appearing on The Dance. But it’s interesting to note that of those four songs, Christine wrote two of them without a co-writer. Obviously, everyone in the band contributes at least a little to each song — I love the Mick Fleetwood’s drum part in Little Lies — but Christine deserves the credit for giving them such a solid foundation.
With Monday Morning, Say You Love Me started off the Live album with a one-two punch. Before I won this album as a door prize at a middle school dance, I had never heard Monday Morning, and more importantly I never appreciated live recordings. I thought they were rough and scrappy, and I was right. I just didn’t realize how awesome that was. Not only does it showcase how talented professional musicians are by being able to stay in tune and in beat with each other without the comforts of studio do-overs, but it also allowed them to riff a bit (see the guitar intro to Monday Morning) and switch up the dynamics of a song (see the intro to Say You Love Me). Live got me into that, and I couldn’t tell you how many times in a row I listened to the live rendition of Say You Love Me.
This is from Christine’s 2017 collaboration with Lindsey Buckingham, which flew far too far under the radar. I assure you that this is no token choice just to make sure this wonderful album is represented on the list. I really love how this song drives despite being relatively mellow, and the harmonies are as brilliant as you would expect from members of Fleetwood Mac.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, what I love most about this song is the keyboard part, which often improved songs by other songwriters, sometimes providing the final touch to put it over the edge towards greatness (e.g., Gypsy). It’s also a perverse twist on love songs. You have to appreciate that.
I’m glad Chevy is getting everyone on board on this song, even though it’s a shameless play at capturing the glory of the cranberry juice guy. As I discussed in my R.I.P. post, Christine had a way of breaking the tension on albums. She was capable of writing energetic music (see #1 below), but Lindsey and Stevie were mass-producing high-energy songs, especially while their relationship was crumbling. Sometimes you needed something light, and Everywhere was one of those songs that did that. It not only gave you a needed step back while listening to the first side of Tango in the Night, but also when listening to a random mix of Fleetwood Mac music. Their best songs were often heavy, but a random list of their best songs usually included Everywhere.
I imagine this might be a surprise choice, especially so high. The composition is fairly simple, and it has a droning quality to it, at times as much white noise as music. But I always loved this song, and I associate it with getting swept up in the fervor of the Miracle on Ice from 1980 and picking up street hockey. The song was still getting plenty of airtime during that event. I never grew out of my love for this song, and it remains one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. Music is often about association, right?
Other than the aforementioned The Chain, which involved the entire band, Tango in the Night was the one and only Fleetwood Mac album where Christine teamed with Lindsey to write some songs (at least to the extent that a co-songwriting credit was appropriate). It produced this song, which is a driving combination of Christine’s sultry, bluesy voice and Lindsey’s terrifying guitar work. It produced my favorite song among any with a songwriting credit for Christine.
So, there it is. Those are my favorites. If you disagree, that’s great; to each his or her own. But I hope this list has given you an excuse to revisit or discover some of her work. Most of us didn’t know her, so we’re not in true mourning. Instead, we’re in a position to celebrate her legacy. Do so. You won’t regret it.
It’s September, the start of a new month. Well, in mid-August, half a month too late, I came across one of those internet challenges. Being a music nut, I’m willing to take my chances with the data mining assholes and participate. For the month of September (plus October 1), I’m going to answer each of these with a blog post. Here’s the challenge:
I was browsing Google headlines today and came across this article detailing my second favorite Stevie Nicks songwriting story. The jist of it is this: Stevie wrote Stand Back while listening to Prince’s Little Red Corvette, and the influence was too great. So, she called Prince and asked permission to use the riff. Not only did Prince grant permission, but he flew out to Los Angeles and played the keyboard part on the song. Prince was credited on the album as Alexander Nevermind and shared 50% of the revenue from the song.
My favorite story? I learned of it only recently. One of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs is Silver Springs. In 1975 or 1976, Stevie was leaving a concert at the Capital Center in Landover, MD, riding along the Washington, DC beltway (I-495). As she passed the exit for New Hampshire Ave. (Route 650), she read the sign, “Silver Spring, MD,” and thought, “What a great name for a song.” (Here’s the longer version of the story. As brilliant and tortured as Rumors was, imagine how much moreso it would have been with Silver Springs on it.)
What’s great about this story was that, because of the time of night, I was almost certainly snug in my bed less than one mile from her as she drove by. I wouldn’t even know of the band, Fleetwood Mac, until 1977, but I was in some small sense there for the start of one of my favorite songs from one of my two favorite bands.