Fleetwood Mac is just days away from embarking on a massive world tour. They have a nearly 50-year catalog but don’t expect to hear many songs before the Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham era. When the two of them joined the band in 1975, their popularity skyrocketed, kicking off an incredible period of success.
They rose from obscurity in the 1960s blues-rock scene to become one of the world’s most popular bands. We polled our readers to choose their favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, and it’s no surprise that 90 percent of the top ten are from the Buckingham/Nicks era.
Many of the biggest rock bands of the 1970s disbanded as soon as the 1980s began. Both Led Zeppelin and the Eagles broke up in 1980, and acts such as the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, and even KISS saw sales plummet as MTV took over the industry.
This was not true of Fleetwood Mac. They adapted well to the video era and had numerous chart hits. Stevie Nicks even took a page from Phil Collins’ playbook and zigzagged between the band and her solo career for a time.
With Mirage in 1982, Fleetwood set the tone for the decade. It had three Top 40 hits, one of which was “Gypsy.” Nicks wrote the song, which is a nostalgic look back at her pre-fame days with boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham. They basically lived like gypsies.
When Fleetwood Mac began recording Tusk in late 1978, they were under a lot of pressure. Rumours, their previous album, was about as big as a rock record could get. It would be impossible to surpass it, and any attempt would be a failure.
They were also dealing with serious personal issues and had enough clout to go way over budget. As a result, the album cost more than $1 million (an industry record) and filled two LPs.
Many consider it their White Album because the tone varies greatly from song to song and it almost sounds like a collection of solo songs. It’s also a complete masterpiece, possibly the best thing they’ve ever made. The label was furious that they released such a sprawling, uncommercial album – which is hardly surprising.
The ballad “Sara” by Stevie Nicks is the album’s most commercially successful track. Unsurprisingly, it was the project’s biggest hit, peaking at number seven on the American Hot 100. Nicks wrote the song about the group’s never-ending personal problems at first but later changed the lyrics to make the song more universal.
8. ‘Gold Dust Woman’
Rumours is an emotional roller coaster that follows the ups and downs of several interconnected relationships. It all comes to a close with Stevie’s supremely powerful “Gold Dust Woman.” Simply put, it is a drug song. The group was doing a lot of cocaine at the time, which didn’t help their never-ending problems.
Stevie was aware of the toll it was taking on her, but she seemed powerless to stop it, according to the song. It’s a downbeat way to end the album, but that’s where the band was at the time.
The group’s genius lay in the fact that they channeled all of their pain into their songs. As if they were a real-life soap opera, America became obsessed with them. It’s been four decades, and none of them can get through an interview without being asked to relive this insane time.
7. ‘Oh Well’
If “Oh Well” sounds like it was recorded by another Fleetwood Mac, that’s because it was. Sure, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie have been with the band since the beginning, but they were a very different beast when Peter Green was in charge. “Oh Well” is perhaps the most well-known song from this period.
Green wrote the blues-rock standard in 1969, and it’s easy to hear early Led Zeppelin and other 1970s hard-rock bands in the song. For decades, garage rock bands have been playing it. Everyone from Tom Petty to Ratt to the Black Crowes has covered it. The song remained on the band’s setlist for years, and Lindsey Buckingham did an excellent job singing Peter Green’s parts.
6. ‘Silver Springs’
“Silver Springs” is one of Stevie Nicks’ most beautiful songs, but it has caused her and the band a lot of trouble over the years. It was cut from Rumours at the last minute due to space constraints.
Stevie was devastated, and she left the band a decade later, partly because Mick Fleetwood wouldn’t let her use the song on a solo compilation. She rejoined the band on a massive cash-in reunion tour a decade later. They performed “Silver Springs” at the TV reunion show, and the new version was released as a single. VH1 played the video a lot, and it became a regular part of their shows.
It’s a song about how former lovers can never truly be apart, and Stevie has stated that she gets a lot of satisfaction from singing “You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you” as she stands inches away from Lindsey night after night.
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were coming to terms with the end of their eight-year relationship when they began working on Rumours. They had clung together through many years of struggle, but enormous success proved more difficult to bear.
“Listen carefully to the sound/ Of our loneliness/ Like a heartbeat, drives you mad/ In the stillness of remembering/ What you had and what you lost,” Stevie sings in the lyrics to “Dreams.” The group has had numerous massive hits, but this is their only Number One single.
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The 1976 single “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac was the group’s first major radio hit with the Nicks/Buckingham lineup. Stevie wrote the song months after reading Mary Leader’s novel Triad.
It’s about a woman who is possessed by Rhiannon, which is also the name of a Welsh witch. Her vocal performance of the song is a tour de force, and it has only grown more powerful over time.
Because the song was so popular, many people began to associate Nicks with actual witchcraft. She’s performed the song at nearly every concert she’s done over the last four decades, and she still manages to make it sound new each time.
Stevie Nicks was only in her mid-twenties when she wrote “Landslide,” but she instilled decades of wisdom and sorrow in the song. Before joining Fleetwood Mac, she wrote it in Aspen.
Her musical career seemed stuck, and things with Lindsey were rocky. She looked out at the mountains and imagined an avalanche coming down and swallowing up the house as she considered quitting music and returning to school.
Although it was not a hit in the 1970s, it quickly became a fan favorite. A live version from the Fleetwood Mac reunion concert in 1997 was released as a single, introducing the song to a new audience. From the Dixie Chicks to the Smashing Pumpkins, many artists have covered it over the years. It’s become Stevie’s signature song in many ways, and it’s only grown more poignant as she’s gotten older.
2. ‘Do It Yourself’
Rumors’ opening track is Lindsey Buckingham’s best moment on the album. Many of Stevie’s love songs are gentle and sad, but this one is raucous and angry. “Packing up/Shacking up’s all you want to do!” he exclaims to his ex.
Stevie joins him on that famous line, but she resents it to this day, claiming she has never “shacked up” with anyone. Lindsey’s guitar playing is also featured prominently in the song. He’s always been vastly underappreciated as a pure player, and this song demonstrates why.
“The Chain” is the only song on Rumours that the band wrote together. “It basically came out of a jam,” Mick Fleetwood explained. “We didn’t know what to say at first. And it wasn’t until Stevie wrote some lyrics that it became a song.
‘I’ve written some words that might be good for that thing you were doing in the studio the other day,’ she said one day. So it was assembled. Lindsey arranged and composed a song out of all the bits and pieces we were recording on tape.”
They should have collaborated more often because the end result is stunning. Although it was never a single, radio embraced it and it has proven to be one of their most enduring works.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Fleetwood Mac’s only No. 1 single?
“Dreams” sold over one million copies in the United States and topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s only number-one single in the country.
What is their most famous song?
Fleetwood Mac followed the success of “Albatross” with another U.K. hit, “Man of the World,” written by founding guitarist Peter Green, whose delicate blues style defined the band’s early sound.
Which song is the best of all time?
Rolling Stone has named Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” the Greatest Song of All Time. (WTRF) – The latest list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone features the Queen of Soul at the top. According to the entertainment magazine and website, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin was the most popular song of all time.
We conducted a survey to determine which songs by Fleetwood Mac our readers enjoy the most, and it should come as no surprise that the majority of the top ten are from the Buckingham/Nicks era of the band’s career.