Life After Lindsey: How Fleetwood Mac Will Cope in the Post-Buckingham Era
Fleetwood Mac's split with Lindsey Buckingham was as sudden as it was shocking.
Buckingham had been a bulwark for the band since the late-'90s reunion of its classic-era lineup, holding fast when Christine McVie took a lengthy break. Long before that, he'd helped reset their commercial fortunes upon arriving with Stevie Nicks in the '70s.
Then, in April 2018, he was out. Fleetwood Mac quickly announced that two people would join in Buckingham's place, Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, and then began plotting a huge tour.
On the one hand, this wasn't all that out of the ordinary: Fleetwood Mac have had more than their share of lineup changes, and they'd even added two other sidemen (Billy Burnette and Rick Vito) after a previous Buckingham departure. On the other hand, there's 1995's Buckingham-less Time, an unfocused, uninteresting misfire.
So, of all the many, many questions engendered by this turn of events, none looms larger on Fleetwood Mac's upcoming tour than the legacy of Lindsey Buckingham. How they cope with it will determine everything about how long this new lineup stays together. Ask Dave Mason.
How many Buckingham songs – if any – do you expect the reformulated Fleetwood Mac to perform? Are there songs he wrote that feel like required entries?
MICHAEL GALLUCCI: If they're trying to distance themselves from Buckingham, they shouldn't play any of his songs. But I realize that won't happen. So they'll probably play a couple of the more band-oriented Buckingham cuts like "Go Your Own Way," which may be the only one fans really expect, now that I think about it.
NICK DERISO: I found the inclusion of "The Chain" in their initial preview performance on Ellen to be notable. The song, though credited to the entire band, prominently features Buckingham on vocals and guitar – but Fleetwood Mac weren't beholden to that. Mike Campbell's solo took the song in entirely new places. That says two things to me: Fleetwood Mac aren't going to shy away from Buckingham's stuff, and they're not afraid to put their own new stamp on it. Campbell's presence alone might open the door for a re-imagining of other Buckingham songs.
Which ones should they avoid and why?
GALLUCCI: So many of Buckingham's Fleetwood Mac songs – like "Never Going Back Again," "Big Love" and a huge chunk of the Tusk album – are pretty much solo tracks anyway, so it doesn't really make much sense for the band to play any of them. Seriously – play "Go Your Own Way" because that's the one everybody knows and skip all the rest.
DERISO: Buckingham's guitar-and-voice stuff is easy enough to scratch off, along with so-called band songs like "Big Love" that he'd long since turned into solo freak-out showcases. But I dunno. It's going to be interesting to hear how "Never Going Back Again," which they debuted during an abbreviated set at the iHeart Radio Festival earlier this month, evolves in Campbell's hands. And, really, the more you think about Buckingham's deeply idiosyncratic fully arranged stuff – "What Makes You Think You're the One," "Can't Go Back," the title track from Tango in the Night – the less they seem to work.
The band has indicated that they'll dig deeper into Fleetwood Mac's older catalog. Which pre-Buckingham songs would work best?
GALLUCCI: "Oh Well" has always been a reliable Peter Green-era song for the band. Almost anyone can handle that one – even Buckingham sang it live during his time – so this would work as a solo shot for one of the new guys. I also think Green-penned classics like "The Green Manalishi," "Rattlesnake Shake," "Black Magic Woman" and "Albatross" would fit with this revamped lineup. And how about "Hypnotized" from the Bob Welch period? I don't see them digging too much deeper than the best-known songs from the early years.
DERISO: The Bob Welch era seems particularly well suited for this iteration of Fleetwood Mac. Neil Finn's voice would fit perfectly on songs like "Emerald Eyes," "Sentimental Lady" and, especially, "Hypnotized." Much has been made, and justifiably so, of the arrival of Buckingham and Nicks – but "Hypnotized" illustrates how far Fleetwood Mac had come toward their polyester-era California singer-songwriter style before they ever joined. I suspect Mick Fleetwood is itching to remind everyone of that.
On their last tours without Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac delved into material brought in by newer members like Dave Mason. Do you expect to hear Crowded House and Tom Petty songs?
GALLUCCI: Sure do. "Don't Dream It's Over" from Finn and "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" from Campbell are shoe-ins, I'd say. I'd guess at least a couple more from each of them too. Maybe Petty's "The Insider" – which, like "Draggin'" features Nicks – and "Something So Strong," the other Crowded House song people might know. Long shots: one of the songs Campbell wrote and performed with Don Henley, and Split Enz's "I Got You."
DERISO: It's actually rather astonishing how often Fleetwood Mac relied on material brought in by hired guns during the '90s-era absence of Buckingham – though it should be noted that both Nicks and McVie left during that period too. They did Mason's "We Just Disagree" and two songs by Traffic; they even covered a song by Billy Burnette's dad. It was embarrassing, really. Even so, if that trend held, we might hear a number of non-Fleetwood Mac tracks – and they'd once again risk losing no small amount of legitimacy by turning into a jukebox band.
Do you expect Christine McVie to take a more central role? Should she?
GALLUCCI: I sure hope so. She's always been Fleetwood Mac's ace in the hole. She deserves as much of the spotlight as Stevie Nicks, if not more. If the band was smart, they'd give at least half of the show to her material, with the other half divided between Nicks and whatever else they plan to dig into – whether it's older pre-Buckingham material or solo spots for Campbell and Finn. They should just skip any Buckingham songs they plan to play and give McVie and her songs those slots instead.
DERISO: Exactly. If this lineup is going to be considered legitimate, I think Fleetwood Mac should play Fleetwood Mac songs. I'd expect them to pull out "World Turning" and "Oh Well," which also appeared on the most recent dates without Buckingham. I'd hope they'd delve into the overlooked period between Green's exit and the arrival of Buckingham and Nicks. The most welcome development, however, would be if McVie ascended to a more prominent role. She certainly has earned it: McVie scored Fleetwood Mac's first-ever charting song (the No. 20 hit "Over My Head") and their last Top 40 single ("Save Me"). In between, she had three of their five Top 5 smashes, and 10 of their 18 Top 40 hits.
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