David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 339: Lindsey Buckingham (Wrong)

April 3, 2024

In the same way that you would have thought an Attraction (specifically, Bruce Thomas) would have avoided writing debatable history of his time with Elvis Costello, otherwise becoming the folly of Costello's song-writing talents (see Day 24: How To Be Dumb), you would have thought members of Fleetwood Mac would have been leery of treading in the same waters that Lindsey Buckingham used to almost drown Steve Nicks in "Go Your Own Way." However, if there is anything to learn from Fleetwood Mac, it is that there were plenty of pretty big egos to go around. Mick Fleetwood probably never cowed to that scrawny lead guitarist he hired in the mid-1970s.

Nevertheless, after releasing his memoir, My Life And Adventures In Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood found himself in the sight of his quirky former guitarist. As with the Nicks' affront, Buckingham kept it rather simple with his response to Fleetwood, summarizing the scenario as "the man just got it wrong," in "Wrong" from 1992's Out Of The Cradle, his first solo album since formally departing from Fleetwood Mac.

"Wrong" seemed a peculiar first single from an album whose very title suggested a man stepping our of some kind of childhood, a figure of speech one couldn't help but associate with the tumultuous times in Fleetwood Mac. Beyond that, the choice of that album title seemed also to further prove that Buckingham's sense of importance may have played its own significant role in the dysfunction of Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood providing the fun, Buckingham subverting that to the function. After all, the title is a phrase from one of Walt Whitman's most famous poems, one which addresses the suffering that often comes with art. So many of the songs on Out Of The Cradle have rather ponderous spoken introductions, contributing again to a weightiness of the album that betrayed the image of angry rock star as found in "I'm So Afraid," "Go Your Own Way," and "Second Hand News." Most of Out Of The Cradle featured whispery songs closer to the poetry of Whitman than that of Henry Rollins: "Street Of Dreams," "Surrender The Rain," and "Soul Drifter."

There is no whisper in "Wrong," although the song begins deceptively mid-key, especially with Buckingham's under-stated vocal delivery: "Everybody's heard it/how everything went wrong/advance was spent some time ago/agent's on the phone." However, then Buckingham explodes with "young Mr. Rockcock/where do you belong?/the man ain't got no answer/the man's just got it wrong," replete with vocals that remind us of "Tusk," or "Not That Funny," or even "Go Insane," Buckingham's first solo hit delivered in between Fleetwood Mac albums. Listen to the second pass through for the "the man ain't got no answer," and ask yourself who is the adult in the room.

I don't know a whole lot about Mick Fleetwood, but the little I do know seems to align with the sobriquet "Mr. Rockcock," with Buckingham's disdain even more evident by the last verse, where he sings of "looking through the keyhole" and seeing "piggy in the middle/piggy on the cover."

It is in the guitar solo-ing, though, that we see (or hear) that Buckingham still has a lot of demons to expel (Buckingham would sing outright about his "little demon" three years later on The Dance, where he and his Fleetwood Mac mates would reunite for a live performance). It is in those moments when Buckingham lets his guitar do the talking that Out Of The Cradle shines. Because of his finger-picking style, his guitar work pricks, very appropriately, in a way that other styles don't. Not sure what string the middle-finger is playing, Mick.

Look, for all of Buckingham's pretensions, very few of them affect his approach to song structure. Brief verse, brief chorus, brief verse, repeat chorus, brief guitar interlude, final verse, repeat chorus, longer guitar interlude. In the end, "Wrong" gives us as many guitar flashes as "Go Your Own Way" (sadly missing the Fleetwood drum fills) but for an extended stretch of time. Mick, I don't know how you should feel about the fact that Buckingham drags out your attack much longer than he did for his former lover and partner.

In the end, I don't know how wrong Mick Fleetwood was with some of the stories or details or claims in his autobiography. All I know is that once we put something down as fact, whether in a book, or a research paper, or a resumé, or a blog, we leave ourselves open. I guess I would just be cautious about having those facts end up on the radar of someone who can devastate me with a response, finger-picker or not.

Lindsey Buckingham. "Wrong." Out Of The Cradle. Reprise, 1992. Link here.

Day 338: Al Green "Take Me To The River"

Day 340: Roxy Music "Avalon"

See complete list here.