The Truth About Rumours

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February 17, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 smash hit Rumours is an album that everyone in our parent’s generation owns.  Everyone I know who still has a record collection has a copy of Rumours on vinyl.  It was one of those hot albums that everyone had.  Much of the albums success comes from the fact that it was produced at one of the lowest personal points in the band’s history.  Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had broken up, John and Christie McVie were divorcing, and Mick Fleetwood had become a walking mound of cocaine.  The material on the album perfectly relays and conveys all the emotions that the band was feeling at the time, in a way that everyone else could understand and relate to.  It’s a very accessible album because it’s so raw and borne of tumultuous times that the album give off this vibe that the band put their souls into its creation.

What most people tend to forget though is that a lot of the album’s success was built upon the previous album, 1975’s eponymous Fleetwood Mac; the band’s first featuring Nicks and Buckingham.  Even though Rumours is far superior to Fleetwood Mac, the former is much more than a spiritual successor to the latter, it’s a sequel.  Rumours is very much the continuation of the band’s story from whence we left off in 1975.  Storylines started in Fleetwood Mac are picked up in Rumours, while the songs and the albums are even structured in a similar manner.  If Fleetwood Mac is a movie, then Rumours is its sequel where we revisit the characters some years later to find out what’s going on in their lives.  The two albums very much so exist within the same universe.  Most albums are singular in nature; they don’t serve as a continuation from a previous album.

Stylistically, the songs on each album can be compared according to the chart below:

Fleetwood Mac

Rumours

“Monday Morning”

“Second Hand News”

“Blue Letter”

“Go Your Own Way”

“Crystal”

“Songbird”

“Sugar Daddy”

“You Make Loving Fun”

“Landslide”

“Never Going Back Again”

While you can make comparisons between the 11 songs on each album, the fact that Rumours is a sequel to Fleetwood Mac goes further than the sound of both albums.  Some of the ideas dealt with in Fleetwood Mac resurface in Rumours in a more developed way as two years have gone by between the two albums.  Songs like “Blue Letter” and “Monday Morning” on Fleetwood Mac, suggest that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks are going through some problems in their relationship, specifically whether or not to still stay together.  By the time we get to Rumours, “Second Hand News” and “Go Your Own Way” let the listener know that the struggles implied in the previous album have come to a head and Nicks and Buckingham have now broken up.  In a sense the breakup happened off screen, while the sequel, Rumours starts off right after the breakup.

The tumultuous relationship between Buckingham and Nicks, which became a plot hole in Fleetwood Mac is picked up again in Rumours, really as the central plot of the album.  Half the tracks on the album are, in one way or another, about breakups and divorce.  But what makes Rumours so great is that it’s told from every perspective possible.  “Go Your Own Way” is about their breakup from Buckingham’s perspective, while “Dreams” is from Nicks’ perspective.  The plotline is essentially picked from where we left them off in Fleetwood Mac.

On Fleetwood Mac, Christie McVie mentions many times, and across several songs that she needs a new love in her life, despite the fact that she was married to band mate John McVie.  She says that she “Needs somebody to help me through the night” in the song “World Turning”, and in the song “Sugar Daddy” she says that “All that I want is someone to take care of me, I’m not asking for love, just a little sympathy”.  This plotline of McVie’s search for love is completed in Rumours specifically in “You Make Loving Fun”, an ode to her new boyfriend, the lighting director for their concerts, and “Don’t Stop” a song telling her husband to cheer up about the fact that she’s screwing another man.

By the time Rumours was being recorded, there were already rumors that the band was on the verge of breaking up.  This development also plays into Rumours in the song “The Chain” which just overflows with emotion and perseverance.  While they might be at the worst point in their personal lives, they will linger on amidst the heartache and rumors, since “You will never break the chain”.

Rumours essentially functions as the second act of a three act play.  The first act, Fleetwood Mac, introduces these characters and puts them in a tree, and the second act, Rumours, lights the tree on fire.  Act three however, when the characters come down from the tree, wasn’t until 1997 during the live performance entitled The Dance.  It was during that concert that all the storylines of the past 20 years were wrapped up.  It served as a finale to the drama that was captured in the band’s songs since Nicks and Buckingham joined in 1975.  All the members are clean and sober, John and Christie McVie have their own families now, and Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, while not together, are their typical selves, they still write together, argue all the time, and probably still get together at least a couple of nights during their tours.

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One thought on “The Truth About Rumours

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