One of my core music memories is of driving three hours to Chicago to catch the Amtrak to New Orleans for a thanksgiving trip with my family. When my dad asked me to play Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, my mom, who I’d only ever heard sing gospel songs and lullabies, sang every word of the entire album. This was post-Dreams Tik Tok virality, but I had no real experience with it or the album until I revisited it this September.
Now, as I put the album on again to write this, ‘Dreams’ comes on and I yell ‘Fuck man’ and turn the volume all the way up on my den record player. Few songs have a more attention grabbing opening, and it happens again two tracks later on ‘Don’t Stop’ and again and again. This is an astounding collection of stellar, massive pop singles; one that is the effort of a group of people that have been through a lot of difficult times, with and because of each other. It is filled with hope, sadness but what is most prominent and what elevates the album is the moments of compassion.
The drama of Rumours’ creation is still something to behold. While the band hit a commercial high with their 1975 album, while they worked on their follow-up, it seemed everything fell apart. Breakups and divorce threatened to hinder or even sabotage the creative process. The pain and passion, though, provided for brutally honest passion in the performances of everyone. Lindsay Buckingham wants to move on and love again on ‘Second Hand News’. Christine McVie is hopeful and newly free on ‘Don’t Stop’. Stevie Nicks is angry at groupies, herself and the cocaine in front of her on ‘Gold Dust Woman’. Everyone expresses their disappointment in each other on the anthemic, melodic force ‘The Chain’.
Enjoying the album this much comes with little pangs of guilt. But there’s a manner of joy and relief on the album too, in the vocal delivery and the drum and guitar work. Everyone is getting everything off their chest, for better or for worse. A lesser final product could have easily been completely drowned by the rumours surrounding it, yet this stands tall as one of the most important and successful albums in pop music history.
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