searchsearch
Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward
Christine McVie in 1969

Photo: Evening Standard / Stringer via Getty Images

news

Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward

Unflashy and undramatic, McVie's contributions to Fleetwood Mac led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song — with two GRAMMY wins to boot.

GRAMMYs/Dec 5, 2022 - 10:49 pm

In an acclaimed career that spanned more than half a century, Christine McVie staked her claim as one of the most potent singer-songwriters of her generation. A beloved original member of the seminal rock group Fleetwood Mac, with whom she sang, wrote and played keyboard, she and her bandmates catapulted to fame in the early '70s, scoring GRAMMY gold and influencing generations of musicians.

"As a GRAMMY Award winner and 2018 Person of the Year honoree, the Recording Academy has been honored to celebrate Christine McVie and her work with Fleetwood Mac throughout her legendary career," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. stated. In an announcement of her death, the remaining members of Fleetwood Mac mourned her passing by saying "She was truly one-of-a-kind, special, and talented beyond measure."

McVie, who passed away Nov. 30 at 79 after a brief illness, may have not been as flashy, or as dramatic, as fellow Fleetwood Mac members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. But McVie's contributions to the band led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song, with two GRAMMY wins among seven nominations.

The tour de force that is Rumours is one of the most acclaimed and best-selling albums of all time and an inductee into GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. The masterpiece earned McVie her first GRAMMY (for Album of the Year no less) at the 20th Annual Ceremony in 1978, also earning a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group.

Fleetwood Mac's 11th studio album, Rumours was actually McVie's 7th album with the band after making her name in the English blues scene, rising through the ranks as part of the band Chicken Shack, and even releasing a solo album.

In 1971, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac alongside her then-husband John McVie. The potent combination of the McVies, along with Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Nicks, catalyzed and detonated into the stratospheric Rumours.

"It's hard to say (what it was like) because we were looking at it from the inside," McVie said about the iconic album earlier this year.  "We were having a blast and it felt incredible to us that we were writing those songs. That's all I can say about it, really."

McVie's coyness may stem from the fact that prior to its production, Christine and John divorced after eight years of marriage. Meanwhile, Buckingham and Nicks were having a tumultuous relationship themselves. 

McVie is credited as sole songwriter on a handful of instant-classic Rumours tracks, all written during a perilous moment. "I thought I was drying up," explained McVie. "I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day,  I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that."

That includes "Don't Stop," an ironically peppy ode considering the turmoil McVie and her bandmates were grappling with at the time. With lyrics that staunchly proclaim "Yesterday's gone!," the song was reportedly written as a plea from Christine to John to move on from their relationship.

"I dare say, if I hadn't joined Fleetwood Mac, we might still be together. I just think it's impossible to work in the band with your spouse," McVie later said. John, meanwhile, was oblivious to the song's message during its production and early acclaim. He revealed in 2015: "I've been playing it for years and it wasn't until somebody told me, 'Chris wrote that about you.' Oh really?"

John was also equally ignorant to the source inspiration of "You Make Loving Fun"; McVie told him the joyful song ("Sweet wonderful you/ You make me happy with the things you do") was about her dog. In reality, it was about an affair with the band's lighting designer.

"It was a therapeutic move," McVie later mused of her lyrical penchant for hiding brutal honesty in plain sight. "The only way we could get this stuff out was to say it, and it came out in a way that was difficult. Imagine trying to sing those songs onstage with the people you're singing them about."

When McVie was asked earlier this year what song she written she was most proud of, it was an easy answer: the Rumours track "Songbird."

"For some peculiar reason, I wrote "Songbird" in half an hour; I've never been able to figure out how I did that," she told People. "I woke up in the middle of the night and the song was there in my brain, chords, lyrics, melody, everything. I played it in my bedroom and didn't have anything to tape it on. So I had to stay awake all night so I wouldn't forget it and I came in the next morning to the studio and had (producer) Ken Callait put it on a 2-track. That was how the song ended up being. I don't know where that came from."

McVie's most recent GRAMMY nominations were for her contributions to The Dance, Fleetwood Mac's 1997 live album that featured her stand-outs from Rumours along with the McVie penned-tracks "Say You Love Me" and "Everywhere."

The album earned McVie and the band GRAMMY nominations for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for the Lindsay Buckingham-written "The Chain") and  Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for "Silver Springs," penned by Stevie Nicks). It also landed a nomination for Best Pop Album. It was her final album with the band before a 15-year self-imposed retirement.

In her final years, McVie was a vital member of Fleetwood Mac, including in 2018 when they became the first band honored as MusicCare's Person of the Year.

Speaking to the Recording Academy before the ceremony, Nicks expressed that her initial goal upon joining the group was a humble one: "Christine and I made a pact. We said we will never, ever be treated as a second-class citizen amongst our peers."

Lindsey Buckingham Holds Forth On His New Self-Titled Album, How He Really Feels About Fleetwood Mac Touring Without Him

2023 GRAMMYs To Pay Tribute To Lost Icons With Star-Studded In Memoriam Segment Honoring Loretta Lynn, Christine McVie, And Takeoff
(L to R): Takeoff, Christine McVie, and Loretta Lynn

Photos: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images; Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Erika Goldring/WireImage

news

2023 GRAMMYs To Pay Tribute To Lost Icons With Star-Studded In Memoriam Segment Honoring Loretta Lynn, Christine McVie, And Takeoff

The GRAMMY Awards segment will feature Kacey Musgraves in a tribute to Loretta Lynn; Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood and Bonnie Raitt honoring Christine McVie; and Maverick City Music joining Quavo as they remember Takeoff, airing live on Sunday, Feb. 5.

GRAMMYs/Feb 1, 2023 - 04:00 pm

The lineup for the 2023 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb 5, will include an In Memoriam segment paying tribute to some of those from the creative community that were lost this year with performances by GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists.

The segment will feature Kacey Musgraves performing "Coal Miner's Daughter" in a tribute to three-time GRAMMY winner and 18-time nominee Loretta Lynn; Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood and Bonnie Raitt honoring three-time GRAMMY winner Christine McVie with "Songbird"; and Maverick City Music joining Quavo for "Without You" as they remember the life and legacy of Takeoff.

The 2023 GRAMMYs, hosted by Trevor Noah, will broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network live from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Viewers will also be able to stream the 2023 GRAMMYs live and on demand on Paramount+.

Before, during and after the 2023 GRAMMYs, head to live.GRAMMY.com for exclusive, never-before-seen content, including red carpet interviews, behind-the-scenes content, the full livestream of the 2023 GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, and much more.

Where, What Channel & How To Watch The Full 2023 GRAMMYs

ReImagined At Home: Mark Caplice Flips Fleetwood Mac's GRAMMY-Nominated "The Chain" Into A Haunting Piano Ballad
Mark Caplice

Photo Courtesy of Artist

video

ReImagined At Home: Mark Caplice Flips Fleetwood Mac's GRAMMY-Nominated "The Chain" Into A Haunting Piano Ballad

Mark Caplice's slowed-down, piano-led version of "The Chain" captures all the emotion of Fleetwood Mac's original version from 1977, but applies a melancholy new treatment to the song.

GRAMMYs/Sep 6, 2022 - 06:58 pm

Singer/songwriter Mark Caplice puts a haunting and melancholy spin on a rock classic with his rendition of "The Chain," a Fleetwood Mac song originally released in 1977 as part of their classic album Rumours.

Rumours earned Fleetwood Mac a GRAMMY for Album Of The Year at the 1978 GRAMMY Awards. Two decades later, "The Chain" got some love at the ceremony once again: A live version of the track, off their live album The Dance, was nominated for a golden gramophone for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.

It's a credit to "The Chain" that different kinds of versions of the song have been successful, and in this episode of Reimagined at Home, Caplice once again proves the versatility of the solidarity anthem with his piano-led performance — one that highlights the song's eerie side.

Caplice's smooth, honeyed vocals lend extra weight and emotional power to his version of the song, but at the heart of his performance is a piano line that, from the very first bars of the song, sets a somber and dramatic tone that perfectly harmonizes with the aesthetic of the original.

As Caplice delivers his rendition of "The Chain" at his piano, a horn section enters the soundfield, underscoring the cinematic vibe of the composition.

Fleetwood Mac created the original version of the song by splicing together sections of previously recorded material — including some that various bandmates recorded solo — This meant that much of the music was recorded at different times and in different locations, without the finished product in mind.

In contrast, Caplice's version brings the musicians together in one room for their live performance, proving once again that a truly great song will always stand tall, no matter what format an artist uses to bring it to life.

Check out Caplice's performance in the video above, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of ReImagined at Home.

Lindsey Buckingham Holds Forth On His New Self-Titled Album, How He Really Feels About Fleetwood Mac Touring Without Him

From "Sounds" To Millions Of Streams: How TikTok Became A Major Player In The Musical Ecosystem

PHOTO: Future Publishing / Contributor

feature

From "Sounds" To Millions Of Streams: How TikTok Became A Major Player In The Musical Ecosystem

TikTok's influential algorithm has the power to elevate talent from obscurity or low-level fame, and take older music to the top of the streaming charts. GRAMMY.com digs into the ways TikTok has made a significant impact on pop music.

GRAMMYs/May 9, 2022 - 01:03 pm

In the past several years, China-born social media video app TikTok, has influenced millennial and Gen-Z lifestyles in a variety of ways — including the creation of new hits as well as careers. From Olivia Rodrigo to Conan Gray, TikTok's influential algorithm has the power to elevate talent from obscurity or low-level fame, and has made a significant impact on pop music.

For those unfamiliar with TikTok, "sounds" are pooled into their own pages that showcase all videos with that sound snippet. Over (an often short) time, challenges and memes become associated with certain tracks, meaning users are often exposed to more new music than through a traditional streaming service. 

Through its sounds, the app has brought added shine to the likes of GAYLE, whose "abcdefu" is a staple song on TikTok this year, as well as the GRAMMY-nominated "Best Friend" by Saweetie featuring Doja Cat. Artists who are not yet household names have experienced a boom in streams as a result of TikTok popularity: "Lalala" by Y2K and bbno$ has over 800 million streams on Spotify to date. 

Songs used as TikTok sounds have shown to increase their streaming and even charting ability. Olivia Rodrigo’s "Driver’s License" — which won a GRAMMY for Best Pop Solo Performance and was nominated in several categories — was noticed early on by popular content creators on TikTok and pushed into the spotlight. Other, now chart-busting songs have received similar traction form the app, among them Lil Nas X’s "Old Town Road" and Lizzo’s "Good as Hell." 

"TikTok is a platform that allows for artists from every generation to connect with a new audience in ways the industry hasn't seen before," Corey Sheridan, the US Head of Music for TikTok, tells GRAMMY.com. "We are well positioned to introduce legacy artists and repertoire to a new generation of fans that are otherwise lost with traditional catalog marketing and streaming tactics."

It’s not just newly released songs that are experiencing success on the app. Any song, regardless of its age, can be pushed forward to have a life on the platform. Simple Plan’s "I’m Just A Kid" was certified platinum 15 years after its initial release due to TikTok; Aly and AJ's TikTok success with 2007's "Potential Breakup Song" prompted the sisters to drop their first album in 14 years, in addition to an explicit version of the tune. 

Similarly, Indie musician Ritt Momney signed a record deal with Disruptor/Columbia Records in 2020 after he covered Corrine Bailey Rae’s 2006 song  "Put Your Records On." Money's version was used in hazy quarantine videos on the platform, and soon gained over a million streams on Spotify.

Read More: We're Probably On An Irreversible Course Into The Metaverse. What Role Will Music Play In It?

Leveraging older songs is another way for artists to gain success through TikTok. In 2020, TikTok acquired Prince’s catalog (the artist was famously resistant to streaming services) , and more recently has full access to all of Universal Music’s artists work. Similarly, when David Bowie’s catalog joined TikTok early in 2021, in celebration of what would have been his 74th birthday, hashtags like the #DavidBowieChallenge started to appear alongside over 1.2 million followers for the account.  

"TikTok provides a major benefit for catalog artists, where new creative trends can create a fresh new context for past hits and, in some cases, return them to the charts, creating new opportunities for legacy acts to return to cultural relevancy and build new fans," says William Gruger, Music Editorial Lead for TikTok. 

TikTok's audience seems to have no boundaries around genre or era when it comes to use of sounds. Artists from the 1970s and early 2000s, such as Hoobastank, have had songs return to the mainstream due to TikTok virality.

Fleetwood Mac may be the greatest example of this trend. In 2020,  Nathan Apodaca (TikTok user @420doggface208) lip synced to a snippet of "Dreams" from their 1977 album Rumors as he cruised on a skateboard, holding a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice. Apodaca's TikTok prompted over 100,000 tribute videos and he gained 7 million followers on the platform — as well as an invitation to President Joe Biden's inauguration — further proving the influence TikTok’s algorithm can have. 

The video put Fleetwood Mac back in the charts, 42 years after Rumors was released; the track accumulated 2.9 million streams in the US during the three-day period following Apodaca’s video — an increase of 88.7 percent. Stevie Nicks even joined TikTok as a result, though she only has one video on the platform.

TikTok further taps into older music catalogs through reinterpretations of works, including remixes, mashups and covers. A mashup of Dua Lipa and Madonna created by ArinInflux exploded across TikTok, leading to over 8 million views of the track on YouTube; Regard’s remix of Jay Sean’s "Ride It" and Surf Mesa’s "ILY (I Love You Baby)," with lyrics taken from Frankie Valli’s 1967 hit "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You." led to over 99,000 videos being created using the sound. 

Through its algorithm — which can skyrocket even the smallest of videos — and the intentional use of older catalogs, TikTok has arguably created a space which is designed to help both new and existing artists. A trend on TikTok can change a musician's trajectory quickly, elevating their presence on streaming platforms. 

As a result, TikTok has become a major part of the music ecosystem: A place where older artists can be reinvented and a new generation can fall in love with old favorites. As users employ hits, deep catalog cuts and obscure singles in their videos, as well as develop unique mash-ups that inspire others, TikTok demonstrates how new technology can highlight why some iconic artists never go out of style.   

Watch These Hands: How Deaf Performers Are Making Music Accessible For Hearing-Impaired Fans

Lindsey Buckingham Holds Forth On His New Self-Titled Album, How He Really Feels About Fleetwood Mac Touring Without Him

Lindsey Buckingham

Photo: Lauren Dukoff

news

Lindsey Buckingham Holds Forth On His New Self-Titled Album, How He Really Feels About Fleetwood Mac Touring Without Him

Lindsey Buckingham has taken some life situations on the chin lately, from bypass surgery to Fleetwood Mac removing him. But as his new self-titled record attests, almost nobody is better at flipping awkwardness and darkness into joyous melodies

GRAMMYs/Sep 17, 2021 - 12:18 am

Lindsey Buckingham's new album comes prepackaged with obvious talking points. Crane your ear, and you can faintly hear the click-clack of MacBook keys assembling the following lede: Open-heart surgery, almost losing his voice forever, a looming divorce (they've since thrown that into reverse—love never fails!) and a certain über-dramatic rock institution handing him the pink slip.

But that readymade narrative leaves out the most important part, which is how it all comes out the other side of Buckingham's brain. For decades, the two-time GRAMMY winner alchemized pain and awkwardness into effervescent pop music like almost nobody else—and sold millions and millions of records as a result. How does he keep that psychological and spiritual mechanism well-oiled?

Perhaps the answer is best articulated in good ol' music: His new album, Lindsey Buckingham, which arrives September 17, is permeated with this big-picture thinking. And everything he's been through since he recorded tunes like "Scream," "I Don't Mind" and "On the Wrong Side"—honestly, the album is three years old now after a comical number of delays—gives the tunes added heft, import and longevity.

But for now, the singer/songwriter and guitarist can give it the old college try. "It's not like I'm attracted to any of the dark at all. It's just that I think it exists hand-in-hand with the light," he says over FaceTime. "There's nothing you can do about that." That was the attitude he maintained during the Jerry Springer-style lovers' fiascos that fueled Rumours, and it's how he feels today, when predicaments and headaches that "weren't on the radar" blindside him.

GRAMMY.com caught up with Buckingham during rehearsals for his current U.S. tour to discuss the long road to the new album and how he maintains a PMA with the Sword of Damocles over his head. Near the end, he spills the tea about why he's really no longer in Fleetwood Mac. (See Stevie Nicksrecent comments for the counterpoint.)

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

How's it feel to be rehearsing with your bandmates?

It's great! The camaraderie can't be beat. There's none of the politics that always were there with Fleetwood Mac. We had several attempts to get this album out over the last three years because it's been ready to go for over three years. Certain things kept getting in the way. So, we're finally here and it's good to be playing. I love it.

Is it weird to be promoting music you made a while ago? I didn't know it was so old.

You know, it's funny: When I did that duet album with Christine [McVie], my original intention—becuase I was working on this simultaneously—was to put it out back-to-back with that. Because of Fleetwood Mac politics, that didn't happen.

And then, after all the stuff we'd done with Fleetwood Mac, I thought "Well, rather than put the album out then, I thought I'd put out the anthology"—the best-of [compilation album] that I did in 2018, which was great fun and it was sort of cathartic to revisit all that.

And then [Wry chuckle] we really were starting to get ready to rehearse and then I had this bypass I had in 2019. That took some recovery. And then, we started to begin to rehearse—and then the COVID hit! So it's been kind of a running gag of trying to get this thing out and having to kick it down the road.

I think, in the process, the material itself—and certainly the subject matter—has taken on a somewhat deeper meaning given all that's happened over the last few years, you know?

You seem like you're in a great mood despite the turmoil.

Well, I mean, you know, stuff happens. Rock 'n' roll bands are rock 'n' roll bands. Health issues are going to come and go. So it's all good! I didn't know how I was going to feel at the beginning of rehearsals—whether doing a set twice a day was something I was even up for—but it all turned out to be great. I'm looking forward to it.

I remember seeing the news about the bypass surgery. I was so worried. Music fans worldwide were so worried. I'm so happy you made it back to 100 percent.

Oh, yeah. There was this moment that lasted for a few months because, in the process of doing that, somebody, I guess, a little overzealously jammed a breathing tube down my throat when they were about to do the thing. It kind of damaged my vocal cords for a while, but they came back. That was the other thing: I didn't know how my voice was going to be, putting it to the test, doing a set twice a day in rehearsal. But it's been pretty good, so I'm happy.

In general, what's your life been like since exiting the band?

Well, there have been a lot of things that weren't on the radar, that just sort of showed up like that. And, of course, the whole COVID experience was something nobody saw coming. That wasn't so difficult for me, in a lot of ways, because I lead a fairly insular life anyway. I'm somewhat of a loner. And when I'm working, I'm working by myself most of the time. Certainly, on solo work, all of the time.

You know, we've gotten through that, and I think that was harder on my kids than it was on me. I think there's been a lesson in there somewhere, although I'm not sure what it is. Now, I mean, my god. Everyone wants to go out and tour, but now we've got this Delta variant, and who knows where that's going? 

In the meantime, you just sort of look at all the things you didn't see coming over the last few years and put them in context with where you are now, and it actually provides a little more meaning, I think, for the tour and putting the album out now as opposed to putting it out three years ago. I think the subject matter and the music itself probably resonates a little more because of all that, too.

You've always had a knack for making effervescent music out of difficult or stressful topics. What about this contrast, or this tension, continues to attract you all these decades later?

[Long chuckle.] Wow. I don't know! It's not something I wish on myself. Whether it's a band or a family or a long-term marriage, there are going to be challenges that come up that require not only that you adapt, but accept things that you can't change. You have to come to the realization there's only so much you can control—to try to concentrate on what is positive and try to keep your wits about you in a situation that can lead you off in not-very-constructive directions.

That's something on a more general level that goes back to Rumours, even—where we had this huge test and were maybe poised to fall prey to all the external expectations that there were out there. To make a Rumours II and to become a piece of product that had been formulized. Obviously, I made the choice to go another route. So much of it is about the choices you make with the challenges that come along and how you choose to process them.

Read More: Fleetwood Mac Rumours Producer On Making An Iconic Album

I don't know. It's not like I'm attracted to any of the dark at all. It's just that I think it exists hand-in-hand with the light, and there's nothing you can do about that.

To qualify my question, it's not like you're wishing pain on yourself as grist for the mill for songs. Everyone deals with the awkwardness and darkness of life to one degree or another. But it's rare that someone like yourself can flip it, or alchemize it, into something joyous.

Right. Well, I think you've got to try to keep the overview. And, again, in the same way, to go back to Fleetwood Mac and the Rumours album and how we were going through all this stuff as couples and breaking up and not being able to get closure. I was dealing with a lot of pain at Stevie having moved away from me and yet I was producing the band and was the bandleader—you've got to make choices for the bigger picture, so you've got to rise above all of that.

I think that's something you learn how to do. You try to transform that into something more transcendent.

Back in that bacchanalian era of Rumours, how did you guys survive compounding, compounding, compounding crises where one of them would have ruined any other band? As you say, were you guys just seeing the big picture through all of it?

Well, I don't know! I'll take some of the credit for that, but I think you're talking about people who, on paper, don't even belong in the same band together. But the synergy we created because of what was greater than the sum of the parts, and I think underneath all that darkness, there was a lot of love for each other. There was certainly a huge amount of chemistry.

I think it's just what you try to do. You can choose to react darkly to a dark situation or you can choose to react in a way that is somewhat cathartic or transformative and gets you away from that—without denying it, but just sort of contextualizing it.

With all the highs and lows, do you remember that as a particularly happy time, or in some other way?

Both. But even so, obviously, you can concentrate on the musical soap opera that was so much the subtext of our success back then, but I think you just move on.

In your solo work, what do you feel you can say that you can't with Fleetwood Mac? You touched on the politics and how it's easy-breezy in this format, but from a songwriting perspective, do you write in one box or the other?

I think my lyrics have gotten better—I would like to think—over the years because they've become less and less literal. Some of that has been arrived at because the process I use to record solo albums is far more—I've said this many times—but like painting. Because I'm playing everything and engineering it, it's basically you and your work. It's you and your canvas, so to speak. A musical canvas.

I think the solo work has just allowed me to continue to improve, because that process has allowed for risk and pushing the envelope and discovery in a way that the political process of Fleetwood Mac sometimes disallowed. It allowed it during the Tusk album, but then there was kind of a backlash politically when Tusk didn't sell 16 million albums. Mick [Fleetwood] comes to me and says, "Well, we're not going to do that again."

Lindsey Buckingham. Photo: Lauren Dukoff

That's when I started making solo albums, because I realized if I was going to aspire to be an artist in the long term and continue to take those risks—and, to some degree, continue to thwart people's expectations of what they thought we were or I was—then I was going to have to do it with solo work. That's always where I've continued to grow as an artist, I think.

So, the songwriting has gotten, I think, more interesting and has more depth. It's also become somewhat indistinguishable from the production process, whereas with a band, you've got to bring in a complete song and bring it from point A to point B and it requires a lot more verbalization and politics. It's probably more like moviemaking.

The painting process is really something you can build and build and build off of. It's been an interesting sense of forward motion over the years.

It's fascinating that you've had this whole arc parallel to your journey in a major rock institution. This is your first solo album in a decade. What was your vision for it as opposed to the others, in any regard?

I think much of it was, again, subject-matter-wise: My kids are all basically grown up. I still have a 17-year-old daughter, but they're basically not children anymore. My wife and I have been together for 24 years. You start to have to—again, as I said—accept things and adapt to a thing you, perhaps, at one time, earlier on, you thought you'd never have to adapt to.

And yet I think you need to look at that with an acceptance and almost a celebration that that's just part of what it takes to keep learning and growing as a couple. To have your relationship continue to build on itself. Much of the album, lyric-wise, the content is addressing that: Lamenting it, but also celebrating it.

On a musical level, what I wanted to say, really, is something very simple and fundamental. I thought it'd be very cool to make more of a pop album than I've made before—maybe ever. But certainly since [1992's] Out of the Cradle. There was a sense of referring back to pop sensibilities that existed in Fleetwood Mac and in solo work, but probably in Fleetwood Mac to the point where you could probably connect the dots to a song like "On the Wrong Side" and "Go Your Own Way." 

There was a conscious desire to circle back on something and revisit it. I wanted to make a pop album, and of course, there are a few tracks on there that represent the leftest edges of that. "Power Down" is one song that comes to mind. But generally speaking, the album has pop accessibility that I wanted to achieve, and I think, for the most part, I got there.

I definitely think of you as a melodist first and foremost. As opposed to favorite writers or musicians, per se, who are your favorite melodists out in the ether?

Well, obviously, Paul McCartneyBrian WilsonBurt Bacharach. Geez, I don't know. Henry Mancini. How's that?

Back to your recovery from the heart surgery. Was it scary to think that you might not get to sing again? I mean, that's your whole livelihood.

Well, you know, it was interesting, because there was only so much I could control about it and I was also, in a larger sense, just dealing with recovering from the bypass, which took a few months.

I was probably more concerned with the specifics of what I had to do just to recover from such an invasive procedure, but yes—there was a point where we first saw someone in Los Angeles, a doctor. She turned me on to a voice therapist who would come to the house and have me do exercises. None of that seemed to do anything.

Eventually, she referred me to someone in Boston, who I guess is the guy who deals with singers who have voice problems. My wife and I flew to Boston a couple of times and he looked me over and said, "Look, this is going to take care of itself. I can't guarantee you that your voice is going to come back 100 percent."

And it probably hasn't, really, quite honestly. It's probably come back 95 percent. In rehearsals, we decided to lower the keys of a couple of songs a half step because I was having trouble hitting the notes I used to hit. But some of that just comes along with getting older. That's something we've done continuously over the years anyway, so that's all there is to say about that.

But at the point where this doctor says to me, "I can't guarantee you it's going to come back to 100 percent, but there's nothing you can do. You've just got to wait and it'll do what it's going to do," I just stopped worrying about it because I realized it was just a waiting game I had to play. Again, over a period of months, my voice returned and it seems to be working quite well now, so we're good.

Did you have to carry around a notepad and the whole bit?

No, no, no. I could talk, but it was [Affects rasp] kind of like that for a while. It just was not clear for a month and a half or two months, and then I started to get better.

Now that you're back in fighting shape, have you been writing any?

Well, when COVID hit, we had just moved from the house the kids were raised in to a slightly smaller house that we built. Right after that move, COVID hit, and the studio was still in the process of being finished up. It's downstairs in sort of a guest house in the backyard, and it's in the basement of that. 

It was funny: I didn't have any great motivation to go down and work when COVID hit. I'm not sure why. But after a few months, I said to myself "I've got to force myself to go down there."  So I did, and I got into a routine for a few months down there where I ended up starting and finishing maybe three new songs. There is something to pick up from whenever it's time to make another album, but I haven't done a huge amount of writing, no.

Well, it's not a very inspiring time.

It's pretty strange, yeah.

I must ask: What went through your head when you heard that Peter Green had died?

Well, when I heard about Peter Green, the first thing I said was, "I've got to call Mick," which I did. Mick and I had probably talked once before that since all the Fleetwood Mac stuff went down. He texted and emailed with me and stuff, but we hadn't had a lot of conversations. He and I were obviously on completely good terms at that point and I think he felt bad about that whole thing.

He didn't really want that to happen, but that's another conversation. But he and I commiserated about Peter. He was actually way more [undeterred] about it than I would have expected because I think the term he used was "He died a king's death," which means you go to sleep at night and you don't wake up. That's what happened to Peter, but it was sad. It was quite sad, obviously.

Read More: Remembering Fleetwood Mac Co-Founder Peter Green

He wasn't really on the scene for very long, but he left quite a mark. Mick and I were able to share our sadness about that, for sure.

Do you remember the last time you saw Peter or spoke to him?

I think the last time would have been in 2015—the last time we toured in the U.K. with Fleetwood Mac after Christine came back. He was a funny guy when it came to interacting with me. Obviously, he wasn't maybe in the best mental shape anyway; I don't really know the finer points of that. He was always a bit standoffish with me; I'm not sure why. 

Maybe he felt, as John McVie once said to Mick, that what we were doing was a long way from the blues. It could have been that, or maybe it was the other way: Maybe he was slightly threatened by it. I don't really know. But he was never overly warm to me for some reason. 

But it was in 2015, probably. He used to come to our shows.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in 1979. Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns via Getty Images

Feel free to not broach this at all, but is there anything you can share about where you stand with the rest of Fleetwood Mac at this time?

Look, that whole thing was really something that Stevie wanted to do. It was her doing. It wasn't Mick's doing or Christine's doing or John's. 

Whatever she used as a pretense for my behavior in terms of saying she never wanted to work with me again was so minimal by comparison with what we'd been through over the previous 43 years that it didn't ring true at all to me. But on some level, I think she was a bit unhappy in her own life and was trying to remake the band slightly more in own image. 

Again, this is all me theorizing—I don't know why—but I think over the last number of tours, even going back to the Say You Will tour back in 2003, but certainly 2008 and '09, 2013, 2014 and '15, after Christine came back, my moments on stage were quite peak. I had many peak moments. 

I had "The Chain"; I had "Tusk"; I had "Never Going Back Again"; I had "Big Love"; I had "So Afraid." I think my evolvement as a stage presence over time had sort of enlarged, and I think her—if you want to call it devolvement—as a stage presence over time had diminished a little bit. I think that was hard for her. 

Obviously, she will be and was always the figurehead singer out there, but in terms of those peak moments, I don't think she enjoyed as many. And maybe she just didn't want to be around that anymore! I don't know. I don't blame her for anything, but I haven't really spoken with her about it.

As far as the others go, you know—Mick and Christine—I was a little disappointed with their lack of strength in terms of not standing up for me at the time, but I think they all had reasons they felt they couldn't stand up to Stevie, because she basically gave them an ultimatum: "Either Lindsey goes or I go." 

It's a ridiculous ultimatum. It would be like Mick Jagger saying "Well, either Keith goes or I go." I mean, come on! It's not going to happen! But if you've got to choose one, I guess you've got to choose the singer! [Edgy laugh.]  I got a text or an email from Christine not long after that apologizing: "I'm sorry I didn't stand up for you. I just bought a house." So, that pretty much says it all, you know?

In the ensuing years, I certainly have had good conversations with Christine and everything is great, but mostly with Mick. He and I were and will always be soulmates and he's said "I'd love to get the five of us back together." Of course, he knows I would come back like a shot if that was something that were politically feasible. It remains to be seen whether that is or not.

But one thing I will say is that when all of that went down, I didn't necessarily feel left out because I didn't get to do that tour. The only thing that really got to me is—as I mentioned a second ago—we spent 43 years rising above so many difficulties in order to fulfill our destiny, you know. That has always been the legacy of Fleetwood Mac beyond the music: We always got to do that. For 43 years.

I did not see the show they did with Mike Campbell and Neil Finn, but I did see the setlist. It had Peter Green and Bob Welch songs and it had Crowded House [breaks into a giggle] and Tom Petty songs! I thought, "Well, it's awfully generic at this point. Some might even call it a cover band to some degree." It's probably not a fair term to use, but even so, I don't think it did anything but dishonor that legacy that we had built for those 43 years. That was the only thing that bothered me.

So, to be able to come back and reestablish that legacy would be quite meaningful, I think. Whether or not that's possible remains to be seen, you know? I don't blame anybody or hold a grudge against any of them, including Stevie. I know what she did, she did it out of unhappiness or perhaps out of weakness. It's all part of being in a rock 'n' roll band, I guess.

I don't know who really knows who in this circle of musicians, but I hope there wasn't any awkwardness regarding Mike and Neil joining the band.

Well, it wasn't with me because I never really interacted with them. I think there probably was in terms of coming to the band. I know Stevie was not happy with Mike Campbell later on because it was a "He's not playing that part right!" kind of thing. I've always been a fan of Neil Finn anyway, but, you know, it's a strange situation to come in like that.

When you made that point about Mike, my first thought was "Hmm... I think there's a guy who knows how to play those parts just right!"

[Mischevious laugh.]

You're very much an artist in the now and you have a whole creative future ahead of you. But when you look back on the arc of your career—all of it so far—is there anything you'd do differently or tell yourself as a younger man?

Oh, boy. I don't think so! Whatever my part was in making Stevie feel the way she did in order to have to give the band an ultimatum, I would obviously not do that. 

I think one of the things that maybe has been a good thing for me over the last three or four years since that happened—and not directly because of that—but because of that and the bypass and perhaps COVID and whatever else, I've gotten a little less self-involved, maybe, and looked around me a little more. Maybe that's something I could have done better from time to time.

Jackson Browne On New Album Downhill From Everywhere, Balancing Music & Messaging