Treble 100: No. 59, Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

Fleetwood Mac Rumours Treble 100

Messy moves units. Fleetwood Mac, the British-American ensemble who in 1998 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, epitomize the American dream. Rumours, their 1977 magnus opus,  played out as a Netflix miniseries of sorts, exposing everything going on within this California stylized rock band through song. Little emo bombs exchanged between paramours  who shared harmonies, addictions, and, occasionally, mattresses, became generational anthems for former hippies, soon to be yuppies, and numerous eras to follow.

FM terrestrial radio properties “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams,” “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun” emerged as cultural timestamps, created during Jimmy Carter’s presidency and co-opted 15 years later by Bill Clinton’s ascension to the White House.

Bruce Springsteen was stepping into the new role as a main act on concert bills, discussing a different side of America; Michael Jackson was eyeing the idea of becoming a transformative solo act; the Rolling Stones were absorbing this disco energy along side punk sleaze runoff in New York for what would become their ’70s comeback album; and an unknown American singer-songwriter from Minneapolis, Minnesota, going by the one-word name Prince, started recording in September 1977 for his debut, self-produced 1978 studio album For You.

Rumours had the perfect window to set and break records alike. An instant commercial success, selling over 10 million copies worldwide within just a month of its release and moving 800,000 copies per week at its height. It won Album of the Year at the 1978 Grammy Awards and, as of 2023, it has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, making it the sixth best-selling album of the 1970s, and the 12th best-selling album of all time.

Recorded in Sausalito, California, this Hollywood-style dysfunction played out better over the band’s career than any press releases a record label publicist could concoct. There’s no need to go into detail here. Search for VH1 Behind The Music on your Google machine. You’ll get the deets. 


These attractive white people and their drama-soaked band popped up repeatedly in the most unexpected places in my life. My uncle, who would occasionally sing jazz, had a treasure trove of an album collection—rare Miles Davis joints, Billy Eckstine, Carmen MacRae—that I would just study every time I visited him. That collection was like Jim Rice’s baseball card to me. From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, that Red Sox left-fielder was my first sports hero.

However, as you progressed through my uncle’s collection, toward the back, things shifted to a different algorithm. Frampton Comes Alive, two non-Saturday Night Fever Bee Gees records, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.  I never got the chance to ask him about those records as an adult before he passed, but I’m guessing those were for when he was entertaining. Before he entered a different phase of his life, to put it mildly. Fleetwood friggin’ Mac.

In the aughts, I attended SXSW for the first and only time, taking in Austin and all its sights. I was surprised there was a BBQ restaurant called The Salt Lick at the airport. If you’re about to board a plane and choose to hit the ‘Cue… my friend, you made a brave choice. Godspeed.

One night while our crew was rolling around the world-famous 6th Street entertainment district, officially known as the “Live Music Capital of the World®” by some, watching all the children enjoy their Spring Break, I noticed King Britt was DJing at a small little club for $5. An assistant professor in the UC San Diego music department teaching the undergraduate course “Blacktronika: Afrofuturism In Electronic Music,” Britt was also the DJ that accompanied the vanguard hip-hop group Digable Planets on their first couple of tours in the ’90s.

I dragged my people along with me, explained who he was, and we were off, down the stairs and into a cavernous setting where King Britt was giving these kids the damn business. It was on: glitchy, bleepy techno, liquified house, abstract breakbeats.

The wonder bread dancefloor, on the other hand, was staring at Britt as if he were distilling concepts from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. What exactly does my guy do? He places one Case Logic CD holder behind him. And brings another Case Logic CD holder to the front of the DJ setup. Then, as if by magic, he begins churning out all of these Fleetwood Mac remixes for half an hour or so, transforming the befuddled breakers into confident dance floor veterans.

As the club explodes, wonderbread found their jam, he switches out the Case Logic CD holders again and returns to the glitchy, bleepy techno, liquified house, and abstract breakbeats. The night bumps along as if there wasn’t an interruption. I learn an important DJ lesson, and immediately feel educated and depressed all at once. 

Once again, Fleetwood Mac.


Rumours is far beyond a cultural phenomenon: It’s voodoo. It got the country drunk on a certain kind of idealism, a cracked mirror image, or fantasy for that matter, transposed in this soft rock aphrodisiac that everyone wanted to imbibe. Eleven songs under 40 minutes would be played at sporting events, political rallies, TikToks, and, of course, local watering holes for almost 50 years.

It’s a breakup record that keeps presenting different perspectives on bad to worse and sometimes toxic relationships that are fueled by, well, toxins. To be completely honest, Stevie Nicks appears to be the victor of all of it, if there is one, after the record. Christine McVie could pop out tuneful arrangement in her sleep or on autopilot, but she never achieved the solo status that Nicks did.

Nicks makes connections outside of the pain spong and establishes a successfully popular solo career, draped in mysticism and gold boho shawl, that does not revolve around writing songs for Chevy Chase films. She forms alliances with Tom Petty, and gets Prince plays synths on one of her biggest hits, “Stand Back.”

Before joining the band, both Lindsey Buckingham and Nicks, a working musical duo, were talented artists. Fleetwood Mac was once known for its blues influence by the ridiculous guitar work of its founder Peter Green, who left after the third album and disappeared. But you can calculate theories, dollars, genius, even acuity by measuring the distance between Buckingham’s hit “Go Your Own Way” and Nicks’ hit “Dreams,” a country-tinged bumping soft rock staple that came to Nicks allegedly while sleeping on the heart-shaped bed made for Sly Stone in the famed Sausalito Record Plant. Both fare thee well break-up songs, Buckingham’s battle cry resembles a spoiled child taking their toys and going home, whereas Nicks leaves the door open with observational grace, and groove.

Players only love you when they’re playing” is the sing-along moment in the earworm, and it remains all-time.

That’s some gangster shit. 

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