By Ivan Morgan / August 11, 2023
I’m not a person much taken in by celebrities (except for Mr. Dressup). I have met my share and for the most part they are folks like you and me. Yet last winter the death of Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie for some reason hit me hard. I never met her, but I felt a deep sense of loss.
Why was that? I was so sad that I started to listen to their album Rumours again, thinking a lot about it. When it was released in 1977 it was a huge hit. My friends and I were young university students and while we didn’t really notice, it became the soundtrack to our young lives.
That album was always playing at parties, events and/or gatherings. Songs from it were all over the radio. It was a fixture on the 8-track in my car. We were young and we were all trying to figure out who we were (and I am sure I’ll get there any day now). We were great friends, did everything together and had a good time. We were full of life and excited for the future. Yet it ended, as it often does, in bitterness and hurt feelings.
Young people today don’t understand, but before the internet, the music media was a one-way street. You only knew what the record companies wanted you to know. We thought Fleetwood Mac were perfect: young, glamorously hip, talented, and charmed. They seemed to have it together.
Years later I learned that while making that album, they went through what we went through – ruined relationships, broken friendships, and folks pairing up with former friends’ significant others. There was lots of drama, anger, jealousy and hurt feelings. A veritable soap opera.
Which, I learned, was how Rumours was made. It’s a bittersweet ode to love lost. When the time came to make the record, they were all very much on the outs. McVie said about that album “We were all writing songs about each other although at the time we just didn’t know it.” I can add we were all listening to those songs, which were about what we were going through, and also didn’t know it.
The more I learned what they went through the more I related to them. Been there done that. The album has sold 40 million as of this year. I am sure we were not the only ones.
Of making Rumours, singer Stevie Nicks said to think about the most passionate relationship of your life that completely fell apart. Most people, she said, had months or even years to try and get over it. Not them. They had to work together in a small recording studio every day for months. Years later they all confessed it was no walk in the park.
We didn’t have unprecedented success, rock stardom and vast riches to deal with. Being regular kids, we all just licked our wounds and, as the song said, went our own way.
McVie’s music was a big part of my youth, and listening to it stirred up strong memories. How young we were, how passionate we were, how eager for the world we were. We laughed and drank and partied while this album played in the background like some sort of lyrical warning.
Today, nearly a half century later, most of us are halfway sensible grandparents, but when we were young, we lived life like young people should. We partied hard, we loved hard, we hurt hard.
What contact I have with young people today lets me know – to my relief – that little has changed. Young people are still young people. If I have a role to play it is to ensure no one gets too overwrought. I can advise on how to pick up the pieces and go home.
Calm down, relax, stuff happens, says grandpa. Listen to that album and get over yourself. The people who made it did.
Kids today face different challenges than we did, but the story of Rumours teaches how one faces a challenge is more important than what one faces.
For example, today many young people worry that AI will replace humans in the music industry. I’m not. Just listen to Christine McVie sing Songbird on the Rumours album and go find something else to worry about.
Ivan Morgan can be reached at email@example.com