Christine McVie died yesterday, or it was announced yesterday. It came as a bit of a shock to me, particularly realizing that she was nearly eighty. Eighty. I never really think too much about how old celebrities are (unless someone is making a big deal about it) and like people I know, I think my brain freezes everyone in amber at the age they were when I first found out about them/met them.
I discovered Fleetwood Mac when I was in high school. One of my friends was really into them, to the point where it was almost tiresome, so I was initially resistant to their allure. The fact that the band had three different lead singer/songwriters who all had their own distinctive style didn’t help–I had heard “Dreams” and “Go Your Own Way” and “You Make Loving Fun” all on the radio but had no idea it was all the same band because they sounded like three different ones. One day when I was at my friend’s house, he put the Rumours album on the stereo while we were studying…and I not only liked it, I loved it. I was stunned to learn it was all the same band! The next time I went to a record store (or a department store that had a records section) I bought the first of three copies of the album I owned on vinyl (I wore the first two out, and the third was well on its way to unplayability but we’d moved on to CD’s by then; Rumours was one of the first three CD’s I bought once I had a CD player; that CD is in the glovebox of my car right now because I do have a CD player in the car I bought), and then went back and bought the first Fleetwood Mac album released after Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band (I also hadn’t know they had recorded “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me,” either). From thereon out, I bought every new Fleetwood Mac album on the day it was released, and I’ve enjoyed them all. Rumours is the gold standard, but one of the things I’ve always loved about the Mac was that every album was different, had a different sound and structure, than any of the preceding ones. And of course, while I definitely could tell who wrote and sang which song by simply listening, I never tired of them. Some of the albums aren’t as good as others–we all have preferences–but Rumours has remained my favorite album for almost fifty years.
Fifty years. Fuck.
Stevie Nicks, of course, is the band member I became the biggest fan of–of the three, Lindsey has always been my least favorite, despite the fact my favorite song of theirs is his, “Go Your Own Way,” which is absolute genius–but I always loved Christine’s voice and her songs. Some of the ballads (“Oh Daddy” and “Songbird”) aren’t my favorites–I really have to be in the mood to listen to either–but she is responsible for some great Fleetwood Mac music–“Say You Love Me,” “Little Lies,” “Hold Me,” “Mystified,” “Everywhere,” “Don’t Stop,” among many others–and her voice! So smooth, so beautiful, so calming and capable. She released a solo album in the mid-1980’s called simply Christine McVie which is another one of my favorite albums of all time, too–there’s not a bad track on it, and I have it on my Spotify–listen to it and thank me later–and I actually should listen to it more myself.
I knew eventually the day would come when the door would close on the possibility of any new Fleetwood Mac music from my favorite line-up of the band, but I rather hate that the day has finally come.
But I choose to be grateful to Christine McVie for the legacy of great music she left for us rather than sad that she’s gone. She was a gift we didn’t deserve.