60 Minutes with Lindsey Buckingham:
The hour of music that yanks the Fleetwood Mac guitaristís chain.
By Vic Garbarini
Whether heís fingerpicking blazing electric solos on classics like "Go Your Own Way" or stunning audiences with dazzling acoustic workouts like "Big Love," Lindsey Buckingham plays with a raging intensity any punk or metal guitarist would envy. His songwriting, production and arrangement skills helped make Fleetwood Mac one of the greatest bands of the Seventies and Eighties. He was also the key to the bandís amazing comeback album, The Dance, and subsequent tour last year. No wonder his admirers range from R.E.M.ís folksy Peter Buck to Alice in Chainsí gritty Jerry Cantrell. While Buckingham may or may not do more work with the Mac, heís currently finishing up his first solo album since 1992ís Out of the Cradle (Reprise). His choices for the 60 minutes of music that changed his life highlight an eclectic batch of guitarists and bands who, like himself, integrate unique playing styles with a flair for creative arrangements, combining raw passion with innovative production concepts.
"A Whiter Shade of Pale" Procul Harum
Procul Harum (Deram, 1967)
"There were a lot of songs based on classical themes back then. But thereís something really transcendent about how Procul Harum integrate Bachís ĎAir on a G Stringí into this one. It still makes me cry every time I hear it. Itís got a sophisticated level of production, particularly for its time, and yet theyíre still dealing with the limitations of the technology. Great drum performance. Great vocals, too. Itís like a classical soul song."
"God Only Knows" The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966)
"This song marked the point where Brian Wilson stepped away from the band and started following his own muse. That meant not following the wishes of his record company, which probably would have liked him to make surf music well into his forties. This song is one of the most perfectly crafted pieces of pop music ever 0 the greatest example of his latent Phil Spector mini-symphony tendencies. This was the first album where he brought in the Wrecking Crew (a group of premier L.A. session players) and started to use multiples of musicians, like five guitarists or three drummers, the way that Spector had. Yet he made it his own thing. His production sensibilities really influenced me, especially on Fleetwood Mac albums like Mirage and even Tango in the Night."
"Almost Grown" Chuck Berry
His Best, Vol. 2 (MCA, 1997)
"Remember that time capsule they sent up into space a few years ago with all those examples of great works of art, including rock and roll? Well, the story is that, years later, they got this message back saying, ĎSend more Chuck Berry!í As an artist, Chuck Berry was one of the first people to not only write his own songs, but to also have an original guitar style that went with it. So he did it all. This is not the first song most people would think of by him, but thereís something special about it. Itís not quite gospel, but thereís this kind of call-and-response thing to it. Itís more repetitive and rocks a little more. I mean, all his songs rock in different ways, but this one always get my toe tapping to the max."
"Iíve Got You Under My Skin" Frank Sinatra
Songs for Swinginí Lovers (Capitol, 1956)
"This is from the mid Fifties, after heíd gone through some bad times and re-emerged with a lower voice that showed the wear and tear, and that was obviously the quintessential Frank. The arrangement is by Nelson Riddle, who I always thought was the best guy for him. And itís at the top of my list of Cole Porter songs, too. Frank had a way with rhythm, a way of waiting a beat - and phrasing behind what you might expect. That creates a great tension, whether youíre a vocalist or a guitarist. And he had a command and presence that was unrivaled in saloon singers - which is what he called himself."
"God" John Lennon
Plastic Ono Band (Capitol, 1970)
"íGod is a concept by which we measure our pain.í Itís such an out idea, especially these days. Actually, ĎMother,í or anything off that album nailed me to the wall because the guy was being so honest. He was way ahead of his time. The material may make more sense in the Nineties, when weíre more therapy-friendly - nobody was dealing with this stuff back then. Lennon had been through his primal therapy and was coming to deal with a lot of abandonment issues. The album was also very ahead of its time, musically. The crudeness of it, the way lots of mistakes were just left in, sounds great today. He wasnít afraid to get out there and be brutally honest about the most vulnerable subjects that he had to offer. Thereís pain, but thereís release, too. It took a lot of courage to make that album."
"Anyone Who Had a Heart" Dionne Warwick
The Dionne Warwick Collection: Her All-time Greatest Hits (Rhino, 1989)
"This song is by Burt Bacharach, and I canít think of a composer who writes on that level having his songs more fully realized by a singer: Dionne Warwick was born to sing those songs. Bacharach would write in constantly shifting time signatures and make it work on a musical level. He wrote very conversationally, if you think about it, because thatís the way we talk. The music really implied the emotions behind the words. And from what I understand, Bacharach had everything to do with producing those records. As a composer, I could choose any of his songs; ĎWalk on By,í for instance. But this one seems to really hit a high emotional pitch."
"Not Dark Yet" Bob Dylan
Time Out of Mind (Columbia, 1997)
"Iím not well versed in all of Dylanís work, but I was really curious about this album. I sat up with my girlfriend and listened to it all the way through. The ballads are remarkable, particularly this one. The whole album is like watching the sun go down. Itís a night album, a turn-off-most-of-the-lights kind of album. Dylanís voice is a little craggy, and itís so resonant with what heís saying. Thereís such a sense of acceptance on this one, I had tears streaming down my face when it was over. And if you stay with the whole album, thereís a sense of resolution and a possibility of transformation by the time you get to ĎHighlands,í the last cut. Daniel Lanoisí production has some very effective arrangements, particularly the one on this song - itís perfect. He has someone play something very repetitive around what Dylan is singing. It sounds like a volume pedal guitar, and it never changes. But itís so hypnotic, it puts the whole song right into focus."
"Blue Monday" Fats Domino
My Blue Heaven: The Best of Fats Domino (EMI, 1990)
"Fats made that whole New Orleans thing palatable for a broader audience, and yet he was always a little sideways somehow. ĎBlue Mondayí is just so committed to an approach. The bridge is ridiculous - everybodyís going Ďda-da-da-da; for a really long time. The it releases, and youíre going, ĎOh, yeah!í Itís the essence of everything that was great about those New Orleans r&b hits."
"I Saw Her Standing There" The Beatles
Please Please Me (Capitol, 1963)
"When you think of the Beatles, itís usually about the sophisticated way they used pop elements and whatever they were being turned on to by George Martin to do things that hadnít been done before. This one is just a standard three-chord song, but itís also a rock and roll classic. It still explodes at you when you hear it today. There was even a live version on the first Beatles Anthology album that made me go, ĎOh my God, these guys could really play.í It represents in its earliest and most naÔve incarnation, all the buoyancy the Beatles had to offer."
"Heartbreak Hotel" Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (RCA, 1956)
"I was six years old at the time this came out, and I remember my brother talking about this new guy, Elvis. I remember trying to envision him - I thought of him in tails or a tux or something. I didnít quite get the visuals. [laughs] When this record came on it just jumped out of the speakers and blew me away. This was the song that broke rhythm and blues or rock and roll, whatever you want to call it, through to a mass white audience. A lot of kids heard that song and wanted to get guitars and learn how to play, and I was one of them. And the rest is history."