Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lindsey Buckingham: Extracting The Essential

By: Dennis Cook

If he’d done nothing else outside of Fleetwood Mac people would know the name Lindsey Buckingham. As guitarist, singer and songwriter with that band since the mid ’70s, he’s been responsible for a good deal of their world wide success, including contributing heavily to the era defining, 30 million-plus selling Rumours, where he wrote three of the most recognizable pop hits of all-time – “Second Hand News,” “Never Going Back Again” and “Go Your Own Way.” But Buckingham is actually an artist, and like most of the best ones he’s kept refining his skills, finding new facets to focus his intense mind upon and working constantly, especially in recent years, to carve out an identity for himself outside the relatively safe folds of his multi-platinum band.

Which brings us to Gift of Screws (released September 16 on Warner Bros.), his fourth studio album as a solo artist, which ranges from road dust coated rockers like “Wait For You” to the positively meditative “Great Day,” which rings with steel strings and quiet heart. It’s a snapshot of a talented industry lifer still discovering fresh avenues for exploration within himself, and a positive sign for Fleetwood Mac’s recently announced reunion plans in 2009. But, to look at the ragged cover photo on Screws you’d never know that a pretty happy man awaits you inside.

“In the context of the road I’ve been down, and even in the context of Fleetwood Mac if you want to go back, the title takes on significantly more irony, and it’s meant to. It was meant to be a bit confrontational. I don’t know if the photo was meant to be that confrontational but it just worked out that way. Warner Brothers said it looked like a mug shot, but hey, what’re you gonna do?” chuckles Buckingham. “The title and the whole lyric of the chorus is actually lifted from an Emily Dickinson poem. I’m not a scholar of hers by any means but we’re always looking to see what we can rip, especially things that are public domain. Oh, I hope that’s public domain [laughs]. It’s actually a positive thing, even though it’s got an assaultive tone. She’s talking about making a fragrance or perfume and how you can’t really expect to get that from just the sun coming down and growing the flower. You actually have to have a vision and a certain amount of love, and apply that to the gifts that are given you, to turn the screws and press the petals and get the oil out. So, anything worthwhile, to some degree, is going to be some sort of synthesis of the raw materials you’re given and the vision and effort you apply.”

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