Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham tells all about his collaboration with Christine McVie: “We didn’t have an idea what it was going to be, we just wanted to welcome her back,” Buckingham says. “Less than a week in we were like, ‘Oh, my god, this is better than it’s ever been.'”
Before Christine McVie rejoined Fleetwood Mac in 2014 after a 16-year hiatus, she reconvened with guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, bassist and ex-husband John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood in the studio. Buckingham was working on a solo album and, before rehearsals began for Fleetwood Mac’s upcoming tour, the four — sans Stevie Nicks — played around with some songs. “We didn’t have an idea what it was going to be, we just wanted to welcome her back,” Buckingham says. “Less than a week in we were like, ‘Oh, my god, this is better than it’s ever been.’ ”
They recorded for a few weeks and then put things on hold until the tour wrapped. The resulting album, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie, released this month, sounds like it could be a long-lost Fleetwood Mac album. It’s all there (except for Nicks): Buckingham’s jangly guitar and pop sensibility, Christine’s breathy vocals and melodic piano playing, the classic rhythm section. Express spoke with Buckingham ahead of the duo’s first tour, which stops at Wolf Trap on Monday.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this album is the first time that you, Christine, Mick and John worked together in the studio since 1987’s Tango in the Night.
That is true. We did do a Fleetwood Mac album, [2003’s] Say You Will, without Christine. I’d never really thought of it that way.
For this album, it had been almost 30 years since you four had worked together in the studio.
Jeez, did you have to say that? Oh, my god, that’s scary.
Did it feel strange to be working together in this context again?
Well, no, not really.
It helped that you recorded the album at the same studio where you made 1979’s Tusk.
Yeah, that was a very conscious decision to sort of revisit a piece of our past. And that was a studio that, not only we’d helped to design, but we’d also spent almost a year there, and the Tusk album obviously represents a life choice for me. …
I had this conversation with [Christine] before formally saying, “Yes, come on back and rejoin the band,” which was basically, “Chris, we’d love you to come back, but you know if you do come back you can’t leave again.” I didn’t want it to be a whim for her or a knee jerk into something she felt she was missing but wasn’t willing to be grounded in and put in the discipline for. And she said, “No, no, no — I’d never do that.”
Do you feel like your creative relationship with Christine is stronger now that you’ve made this album?
Generally speaking, it kind of feels like there was always this mutual respect and always this mutual regard for each other’s artistry. But we never really tapped into it on this level. In retrospect, we’re sitting around going, “Gee, what took us so long?” So, we’ll just have to see where it goes. I have a solo album waiting in the wings that’s probably going to come out in January and of course the big machine [Fleetwood Mac] will come calling sometime next year as well, so I can’t really say what it all means other than we had a hell of a time doing it.
[Fleetwood Mac welcomed Christine McVie back to Verizon Center on Halloween]
What do you admire about her as a songwriter?
I love her sense of rhythm and her sense of melody. I love how she infuses her piano playing through the body, the fabric of the song in a way that’s really supportive and atmospheric. Just her ability to craft lyrics that are really strong rhythmically was brought to the forefront on this album because we did a lot of co-writing.
We’d done very occasional co-writing [in the past] — “World Turning” [for example]. I took great liberties with her songs and ended up sharing the writership on a couple of things she had. I gave her tracks that I had done in my studio that were all blocked out in terms of arrangement and chord changes and even melody. … And it was really fascinating to have her take the idea of the melody but then make it her own.
Do you have examples from the new album?
“Red Sun” is one of those. “Too Far Gone.” She would take the melody as it was expressed as a guitar line and be true to it and yet change it up and make it conversational and make it go with the pauses in her lyrics that would enhance the rhythm, and it was just really a nice thing to see evolve.
Is the plan for the tour to mix Fleetwood Mac songs with the new album?
Obviously, you can’t get away without doing some of the body of work. I think they’d probably run us out on the rail, so you try to find a balance. We’re going to possibly open up with a few things with just the two of us, maybe on acoustic and piano, and then by the time we get to the encore I think we’re doing eight of 10 songs from the new album. Then of course you have to throw in a few chestnuts. And that’s fine. I think it’s going to be a nice, fresh show.
Next month, you’ll play a couple of Fleetwood Mac festival dates, then next year is supposed to be a farewell tour, maybe?
Well, I’ve been hearing that, “farewell tour.” Where did that come from?
I read it in another article about the new album. Are you not ready to say goodbye to Fleetwood Mac?
It’s not a question of being ready or not ready, but we’ve never as a band talked about this being our last tour, so I’m a little curious about that.
You don’t see it as a farewell tour?
I certainly don’t. And given how long people seem to keep going and how we all feel individually, I would be shocked — but stranger things have happened.
Wolf Trap, Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna; Mon., 7:30 p.m., $45-$95.
Rudi Greenberg / Washington Post [Express – Blogs] / June 22, 2017