David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 68: Fleetwood Mac (Silver Springs)

July 3, 2020

Don't take this the wrong way, but how f*ed up did you have to be to stay in Fleetwood Mac in the mid 1970's? The well-documented personal relationships between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie and John McVie, Nicks and Fleetwood, goodness, the intrigue that must have oozed in the room whenever a recording session for Rumours began.

At the center swirled the Nicks/Buckingham dynamic, probably accelerated, like a 20-gallon container of gas thrown on the fire, by the eventual Nicks/Fleetwood dynamic.

"Silver Springs" is well-known for being left off of Rumours, much to songwriter Stevie Nicks' frustration and consternation. Given that it is a marvelous song, it is safe to assume that many others associated with the recording of the album felt the same way. Myth has it that Lindsey Buckingham, well-known as a recording studio control freak, championed that decision, citing length and tempo. Later, when Nicks wants to release it as a solo song, then Mick Fleetwood, her next lover in the band, refuses to let her because he wants it on a Fleetwood Mac Box Set. 

In between, it gets stuck as a B-side: you know, the side of the 45 that no one listens to, stuff that often can't even fill up side two of an album. John Lennon stuck Yoko on many of his b-sides; seeing that he willingly put Ono songs on albums, what does this say about "Open Your Box," the flip side to "Power To The People?" Ono's lyrics included "open your box/open your trousers/open your sex/open your legs/open, open, open."  Uh, no thank you.(But as usual, I digress.)

Heck, b-sides are where rock and rollers stick hobbled together Christmas songs, as Bon Jovi did with "I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas" as the flip side to "Keep The Faith."

So, Stevie, humiliation #1: "Silver Springs" ain't making the record.

Humiliation #2 -- this masterpiece is being relegated to a b-side.

Humiliation #3 -- the song is the b-side to that scathing song your ex-lover wrote about you, "Go Your Own Way." You remember that one, right? The one about how "shacking up is all you wanna do?"

Really, we all are lucky Stevie Nicks didn't become Aileen Wournos.

She got redemption when Fleetwood Mac finally featured "Silver Springs" on The Dance, their 1997 CD capturing their reunion concert tour. ("Which one?" you may ask, legitimately. Fleetwood Mac, the epitome of "can't live with them/can't live without them" dysfunction.) The live version was released as a single, and while it didn't necessarily blow the doors off of everything else in 1997, Nicks' song did deservedly get rescued from a B-side cut-out bin.

The link below is to the live performance, which is when I first heard it, blown away by what Nicks later called "the fiery take on the song." Heavens above, that is an understatement. Whoah, Nelly, there is a lot of fire!

For the first two minutes, the song is a lovely ballad, artfully constructed in its own right, but just before we get to the chorus (I guess that's what I call it), the "time cast a spell on me" section, the camera shows Lindsey casting a look Stevie's way that is nothing short of "it's on!" You can see it at the 2:03 mark in the link.  You can't blame Lindsey for the look, because he is ready to use his guitar to elevate the song to a whole different emotional level.  All three voices come in, Nicks knows Buckingham is using his guitar to raise the stakes and she goes all in with her voice.

The rest of the song might as well be "Get a room!" time. Lindsey and Stevie sing to each other, not the audience, and even Christine McVie sings watching them, not the audience. Stevie may cast her daggers Lindsey's way with "I will follow you down until the sound of my voice will haunt you," but he probably finds solace that his voice and guitar support the lyric, bouyed by his unexpressed answer to "Was I just a fool?" -- "Damn, straight!"

It's high theater. Nicks' redemption meet Buckingham's defiance. It can still make me fight back tears when I watch it.

"Silver Springs." The Dance. Fleetwood Mac. Warner Brothers. 1997. Link here.

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Day 69: Triumph "Lay It On The Line." ->

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