LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM CLOSES FLEETWOOD MAC CHAPTER IN LIFE
by Rick Nelson
Lindsey Buckingham's 1987 departure from Fleetwood Mac was messy. After Buckingham walked out on the popular band, nobody paid much attention to talk of "creative differences," the usual prescription for a no-fault rock 'n' roll divorce. Hard words were spoken.
And Fleetwood Mac floundered after the "Tango in the Night" tour. With or without Buckingham, who performs at Seattle's Moore Theater at 8 p.m. Saturday, it would have been next to impossible to recapture the glory days of "Rumors." Still, it created more resentment.
That's why the invitation to play Bill Clinton's inaugural struck Buckingham as an opportunity for "closure."
"I think there were some kinds of loose ends that were left untied when I left the group," Buckingham said from his LA home recently, "I think it created a certain closure that maybe we didn't have before."
Was he surprised when the Mac's "Don't Stop" became the Clinton campaign anthem?
"My reaction when I heard that he was using it was more along the lines of 'Gee, that's kind of bizarre.' I mean, seeing it used in such a context, that it's kind of worked its way into the fabric of things . . ."
And how was the event itself?
"It was fun. We only had to do the one tune, and if we'd been asked to do a whole set I don't think I'd have been able to do it. . . . But 'Don't Stop' we've played in our sleep many times, so it was easy to do that.
"The whole idea of being involved with Clinton on some level was good because, whatever he will or won't do - which remains to be seen - he still has a great deal of symbolism going for him, and I think that's a good starting point. It was for Kennedy. I suppose you can look back at Kennedy and say he wasn't a great president, but at least he did instill a certain spirit in the country, which I think we need to have just to get started. So it was kind of cool to be aligned with. It was fun. It was something that doesn't come along every day, obviously."
Neither does the show Buckingham will offer at the Moore. The singer-songwriter-guitarist, who recorded most of his recent album, "Out of the Cradle," at home alone, is putting a 10-piece band on the road.
"A lot of people say, 'It won't work,' 'Don't do it' or 'It'll cost too much,'" Buckingham said. "I'll give 'em that, but it's a concept I've been wanting to try for a long time - the idea of getting closer to the sophistication of orchestration you get to do on the records and not having to paraphrase it down so much. It's an exciting thing."
A lot of performers would say that's why they use prerecorded passages. Why didn't he do it that way?
"I know a lot of people do that," Buckingham said, "the Jackson kind of thing or Madonna, where visual considerations are more important, but I could never do that. It would drive me nuts."
So, instead of sampled sounds and tapes, Buckingham's very big band ("no horns, five guitars, three percussion, bass and keyboards") will serve up new rockers, old Fleetwood Mac and perhaps two surprising tunes from the album, a Kingston Trio song called "All My Sorrows" and "This Nearly Was Mine" from the musical "South Pacific."
"That's part of the beauty of it," Buckingham said. "We've got six other people that can sing, so we can get three- and four-part harmonies going occasionally and even double them. It's a real strong thing all the way around. And the guitars are not all playing all the time. People pop in with parts and pop out. There's a lot of flexibility there."
Buckingham is very aware that Fleetwood Mac bought him his new flexibility/freedom.
"Once you've played out the hand of what Fleetwood Mac was and you've kept your money, which I have - some have, some haven't - you've at least put yourself in the kind of choices about what you think is important without having to worry about where the rent is coming from. . . . You can 'follow your bliss,' as (Joseph) Campbell would say.
"It doesn't preclude attracting an audience, but it may be more of a crapshoot. . . . At least people will pick up on there's a certain authenticity to it because it's something you really care about.
"The thing is, I love this group of people so much, and I'm having more fun now than I ever had with Fleetwood Mac." . . . This is like phase two for me, and thank God it's on a smaller scale."
A music writer gets spoiled seeing great talent in bars and small halls, and it's hard to get excited about seeing anyone in a 20-plus-thousand seat venue. How is it for a performer?
"You play arenas and stadiums, and after awhile you get so fed up with the lack of contact," Buckingham said. "Small theaters, bars. I remember starting up with Fleetwood Mac in small theaters. Those were the best shows we did. You know, the money goes up and the quality goes down . . . and (in a Groucho voice) that's America for you."