Repost: Holy Cow Palace*, Batman!

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I got myself this awesome collection not too long ago, and it didn’t even cost me $100.

I’ve posted before about what is arguably the greatest break-up album of all time, but I’m a little stunned by the way Fleetwood Mac is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the musical superstorm known as Rumours.  (You can have a look at the deluxe box set Amazon is selling here.)

What’s flipping me out here is the amazing wealth of incredible music that came from these sessions that didn’t make it onto either Rumours or 1979’s follow-up, Tusk (I have always believed that Tusk should have been named Rumours II: Lindsey and Stevie Have It Out).  In addition to a disc of live tracks from the Rumours tour, there are two full discs of outtakes and demos.  The DVD documentary on the making of the album probably just adds further insight into the creative process of these five people in conflict and turmoil.  If you’re even the most casual fan of Fleetwood Mac, there is probably something in this set that will interest you.

I purchased one of the songs from itunes, a Stevie Nicks demo called “Planets of the Universe.” (I stopped at one because I very quickly realized that the digital version of this set would not be enough; I’m gonna shell out the $100 for the hard copy as soon as I can afford it.)  And listening to it helps me understand why it might have been left off the original album.  This is intense stuff.  It’s beautiful and angry, just Stevie and her piano.  She’s pouring everything out in this song: fear, disappointment, grief, love, and rage.  You get a real sense of how co-dependent and dysfunctional her relationship with Lindsey must have been.  I’ve always wondered how the members of Fleetwood Mac felt hearing their personal lives blaring from every direction.  But the songs on Rumours are tame when compared to “Planets of the Universe” (even the searing “Gold Dust Woman” and “The Chain”).  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Nicks would’ve felt hearing this song played every two hours on some Top Forty station.

I’m glad Fleetwood Mac has gained enough perspective on Rumours and the surrounding recordings to allow their fans to share in this music.  It’s one of the most amazing musical treats I’ve heard in a really long time.

*For anyone who doesn’t get the reference, the Cow Palace is a venue in San Francisco that Fleetwood Mac has played many times.

Holy Cow Palace*, Batman!

Standard

I’ve posted before about what is arguably the greatest break-up album of all time, but I’m a little stunned by the way Fleetwood Mac is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the musical superstorm known as Rumours.  (You can have a look at the deluxe box set Amazon is selling here.)

What’s flipping me out here is the amazing wealth of incredible music that came from these sessions that didn’t make it onto either Rumours or 1979’s follow-up, Tusk (I have always believed that Tusk should have been named Rumours II: Lindsey and Stevie Have It Out).  In addition to a disc of live tracks from the Rumours tour, there are two full discs of outtakes and demos.  The DVD documentary on the making of the album probably just adds further insight into the creative process of these five people in conflict and turmoil.  If you’re even the most casual fan of Fleetwood Mac, there is probably something in this set that will interest you.

I purchased one of the songs from itunes, a Stevie Nicks demo called “Planets of the Universe.” (I stopped at one because I very quickly realized that the digital version of this set would not be enough; I’m gonna shell out the $100 for the hard copy as soon as I can afford it.)  And listening to it helps me understand why it might have been left off the original album.  This is intense stuff.  It’s beautiful and angry, just Stevie and her piano.  She’s pouring everything out in this song: fear, disappointment, grief, love, and rage.  You get a real sense of how co-dependent and dysfunctional her relationship with Lindsey must have been.  I’ve always wondered how the members of Fleetwood Mac felt hearing their personal lives blaring from every direction.  But the songs on Rumours are tame when compared to “Planets of the Universe” (even the searing “Gold Dust Woman” and “The Chain”).  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Nicks would’ve felt hearing this song played every two hours on some Top Forty station.

I’m glad Fleetwood Mac has gained enough perspective on Rumours and the surrounding recordings to allow their fans to share in this music.  It’s one of the most amazing musical treats I’ve heard in a really long time.

 

*For anyone who doesn’t get the reference, the Cow Palace is a venue in San Francisco that Fleetwood Mac has played many times.

“Gold Dust Woman”

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I spent a little time with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors in an earlier post about break-up albums, but I neglected this weird little gem from Stevie Nicks.  “Gold Dust Woman” closes out the album, and leaves you unsettled and haunted.  Listening to the studio version, with the tribal drums and spooky howling at the end, it’s kind of easy to see how people could accuse Nicks of being a witch.  This song, and her performance of it, is spellbinding.

Like the most of the rest of the album, “Gold Dust Woman” is emotionally turbulent–angry and defiant with just a hint of sadness.  But exactly who the anger is directed at is a little unclear.  The first lines, “Rock on gold dust woman, take your silver spoon and dig your grave” is clearly a reference to the dangers of the drugs they were probably all using (Nicks had a notable problem with cocaine that lasted well into the 1980s).  But she also seems to be referencing Lindsey Buckingham and their fractured relationship: “Well is it over now, do you know how to pick up your pieces and go home?”  She also seems to be calling out his possessive and controlling attitude with “Rulers make bad lovers, you better put your kingdom up for sale.”  Nicks seems to jabbing at both Buckingham and herself simultaneously.  It can also be read as a critique of fame and life on the road; the line “Wake up in the morning.  See your sunrise loves to go down” didn’t come out of nowhere, I’m sure.  (Rock stars get all the fame, money,  world travel, drugs, and groupies; they also get to live these weird lives where they have no privacy, sleep all day, work all night, never see anyone they love and never stay in one place more than a few weeks. It’s a trade-off.)  This song simply refuses to be pinned down, a wonderfully mysterious musical experience.

I love this clip from their reunion concert.  Time and experience add weight to Nicks’ performance here, giving the song a little more substance and meaning.  It’s also really fascinating to watch her interact with Buckingham.  They’ve been orbiting around each other for over 40 years now, constantly and consistently drawn to back together, like Pluto and Charon (our former 9th planet and its satellite, which are so locked into their orbits that they don’t rotate, the same sides always facing each other).  The little dance of glances they cast back and forth tells almost as much of a story as the song.  (At another point in the concert, when they play “Landslide” together, just the two of them, it’s almost magical.  Their relationship might not have always been a healthy one but it’s always been special.)