March 07, 2007
Lindsey Buckingham: Thinking About Tomorrow
Not too many musicians can say they were co-lead vocalist and songwriter and lead singer on one of the best selling albums of all time, but Lindsey Buckingham can.
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Buckingham, as a member of Fleetwood Mac, will bring an intimate band to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 24. The band will perform numbers from his critically acclaimed Under the Skin solo album but also, "branch out and play some of the stuff people expect."
"The Stuff," presumably, will include Buckingham originals like "Monday Morning," "Go Your Own Way," "Sara," and written with the entire band, "The Chain," often considered one of rock's finest songs.
The band's seminal album, Rumours, won a Grammy award for Album of the Year for 1977, and spent 31 weeks at the top of the Billboard Music Charts. By 2003, the album had sold more than 19 million copies in the United States alone and was certified by the RIAA as the third-highest selling single-disc album in history. Yet Buckingham might never had been a part of Fleetwood Mac if not for an unusual turn of events.
With his then-partner Stevie Nicks, the duo already had one album under their belts when Mick Fleetwood made a surprising offer just a couple years before Rumours — join Fleetwood Mac, a band that had already undergone significant changes. It first came to prominence with the guitarist Peter Green ("Black Magic Woman") fronting the band. When Green left first Danny Kirwan and then Bob Welch ("Sentimental Journey") joined the core band -- Mick on drums, John McVie on bass and Christine McVie on keyboards and vocals. Buckingham was ambivalent.
"Stevie and I had aspirations," he related in an interview Thursday. "We hadn't given up. There was a lack of clarity about exactly what our role would be with Fleetwood Mac." Buckingham pointed out an unsung hero in the story, Mo Ostin of Warner brothers records, who allowed Fleetwood and company to meander from album to album without any set release dates and with ever-changing personnel. "Mo let them sit on the label. Without him there would never have been a Fleetwood Mac.
The band clicked from the onset, with Christine McVie's soaring, harmonic compositions blending perfectly with Nicks' songs and Buckingham's, who added searing lead guitar riffs behind the legendary McVie/Fleetwood rhythm section.
"We were a real band," Buckingham said. We were players. . .we were something more than say, The Eagles."
With the unforeseeable success of the album came the very public spats: band members sleeping with each other's partners, the breakups, the in-house screaming matches, chronicled in "Go Your Own Way."
When it was time for a follow up album, Buckingham was determined to break the mold. "We were poised to make another record, and everyone expected Rumours II. I drew a line in the sand, and said let's do this for the right reason," Buckingham recalled. The new double-album, Tusk, heavily influenced by Buckingham, sold "only four million" albums and was considered a disappointment. Buckingham said it was his favorite Fleetwood Mac album.
He left the band in 1987 but the popularity of the songs led to repeated calls for a reunion tour. Bill Clinton adopted the band's song, "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)" as his campaign theme and the band sang it at his inauguration.
In the late nineties, Fleetwood Mac reunited for a worldwide tour. "I took off in 1987 because things had gotten real crazy," Buckingham recalled. He said after getting married and having a child, he "looked back with more tenderness. A lot of things had changed. To get back to a situation where we were touring was a meaningful time, a chance to reunite." A live album attests to the band's prowess, but a new studio album was shelved, at least for the time being.
Buckingham released his latest solo project, Under the Skin to critical acclaim — it was chosen by Rolling Stone as one of the top 50 albums of the year. It features Buckingham's trademark harmonies, intricately layered. The songs are reminiscent of the Beach Boys' signature sound. That's no accident, Buckingham said.
"Being from California, Brian [Wilson] was a big influence on a number of levels — as a producer, a writer, and someone who had some problems with his support system." Under the Skin "is multi-layered. Today, as we move into tougher times, you encounter the sense that harmony is sentimental, and that's too bad."
In addition to another Fleetwood Mac project, there has been significant clamoring for Buckingham and Nicks to re-release their album, Buckingham Nicks, which has never been released digitally. There is also talk of a tour to support the new project.
"It's on the backburner," Buckingham said. "It's part of the dynamic between Stevie and I, we're always off doing something. It's a victim of inertia."
The Westhampton show is his only area appearance, and tickets are extremely limited. Call 288-2350 for reservations.
"It will be fun," Buckingham said. "We have a tight little band."