Can’t the “classic” version of this band stay on good terms for more than a few months at a time without everything exploding like a chunk of pure sodium tossed into a pond? Rolling Stone reported yesterday that Fleetwood Mac has fired Lindsey Buckingham from the band. This is the second time Buckingham has been out of the band, though the first time was self-imposed, leaving in 1987 to focus on his solo career for ten years. Now, twenty years after he returned, and just a matter of a couple of months before what was originally advertised as a Fleetwood Mac “Farewell Tour” was supposed to commence, he’s gone again, but apparently it wasn’t his choice this time.
Everything about this is so weird. I want to know the full timeline on this. My suspicion is that this event might actually have been set in place when Christine McVie rejoined the band four years ago. At the time, she was open about the fact that she and Buckingham were working on a bunch of new songs, and they were hoping to have them recorded by the band. Instead, they ended up being the bulk of last year’s Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie “duets” album, which was really a Fleetwood Mac album in everything but name–John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are the rhythm section for most of the songs.
Because Stevie Nicks didn’t want to record any more Mac music, though, the other four band members chose not to make this a Fleetwood Mac record. I can understand that decision, as there is a difference between the Buckingham-McVie album where Nicks is a non-participating but active member of the group and 2003’s Say You Will, another album with only 4/5th of the “classic Mac”, but where Christine had retired from the group a few year’s prior. Still, I imagine there had to have been some tension involved in Stevie not willing to do a final Fleetwood Mac album, while Lindsey and Christine did a mini tour for the album using musicians other than Mick Fleetwood and John McVie as the backing band to keep it from being mistaken as a Fleetwood Mac tour.
And now, with yesterday’s additional news than Buckingham has already been replaced for the tour by Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House, the current Fleetwood Mac situation has totally become an inverted version of Behind the Mask-era Mac changes. 2018 Lindsey gets tossed, instead of quitting in 1987, and the band now replaces him with two rock legends instead of two much more lesser known musicians (Billy Burnette and Rick Zito). Of course, since the argument may boil down to the non-production of additional Fleetwood Mac music versus a focus on the “heritage” touring circuit, we won’t actually get new music from this new lineup. Which of course, makes the choice of Neil Finn to take over Buckingham’s vocals all the more strange–since Finn’s greatest strength is as a songwriter.
Also, the musical climate, state of touring, and history of the band itself was (not surprisingly) very different in 1987 than it is today. The average 2018 Fleetwood Mac concertgoer is going to want to hear just the hits. Not deep cuts. Not pre-Buckingham era songs. And-good as they are-not Crowded House songs. Currently, I can’t hear “Go Your Own Way” and “Tusk” and “Never Going Back Again” being sung in another voice, or “Dreams” or “Silver Springs” being sung by Stevie Nicks as a member of Fleetwood Mac in 2018 to a new vocal partner, especially since a big part of actually seeing Fleetwood Mac live since their 1997 reunion has been the tense interplay between Buckingham and Nicks.
As the band itself said, “Oh Well”. We shall see how it goes.