Despite all appearances, this is not advice.
It is, however, a Criminally Underrated album. Lindsey Buckingham’s second solo disc is. . . different. Despite being some of the finest music of his career, it’s also some of his least accessible. There’s a weirdness to it that I think comes in large part from being a real solo project. Buckingham wrote, produced, and performed virtually everything. The isolation shows. There’s a claustrophobic feeling throughout, like everything is being done in a box. I didn’t know before that it was a break-up album; another fact I learned in my Wiki-Google search: the last track is a tribute to Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who died while Buckingham was making the album.
Go Insane is a surreal, dreamlike landscape. The music is filled with odd sound effects and whispered voices, giving it a haunted feeling. It’s a nightmare rendered sonically. There’s the usual anger and sadness pouring through, something Buckingham has always excelled at. It is sort of thin lyrically, but I don’t think words were the point here. The emotional turmoil is conveyed much more effectively with music and sound effects. Maybe it’s just because I watched it again last night, but the closest comparison I can come up with is the film Inception, a dream within a dream within a dream.
The dreamlike quality of this album are best exemplified by the two-part track “Play in the Rain.” Back in the wonderful days of vinyl (or cassettes, which is how I first heard this), you had to stop and turn the disc over. “Play in the Rain” ended side one and started side two. (Another Wiki-fact: The original LP was configured so that the end of side one could play continuously, called a “locked groove”; I didn’t know that was possible. The song features similar lyrics and the chorus repeated like a mantra until you feel a little hypnotized. “Can we play in the rain?” starts sounding a little demented after a while. Which might be the point. Something like a break-up tends to stick in your brain, the words and incidents playing over and over in your mind in an endless loop until you feel trapped. A locked groove. (You know, I’m starting to think Lindsey Buckingham is smarter than the average bear. There’s definitely a method to his madness.) The track features some blistering guitar from Buckingham, the first time it seems that he really cuts loose on the instrument he plays like no one else.
“D.W. Suite” is the least nightmarish, most expansive song on the album. While I can’t say it’s a happy song, there’s something optimistic here. There’s hope imbedded in it. And relief. “The closing of a chapter, the opening of a door, brings forth life where there was no life before.” It’s a prayer to a lost soul, and a fitting tribute to Wilson. It cycles through grief, acknowledging the pain and letting it go. It also breaks the isolation of the rest of the album. This song opens up onto a new landscape, where no one is alone. “If we go, go insane, we can all go together. In this wild wanton world, we can all break down forever. . .”
Maybe this is advice after all.