Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bob Lefsetz showing "Christine McVie" a little love

Lindsey Buckingham gets all the credit. Stevie Nicks gets all the attention. But Christine McVie was the glue. She bridged the gap from obscurity to fame. Nicks twirled, but it was Christine with her understated beauty that enraptured us. And it was Christine's track that broke the new Fleetwood Mac. Yes, "Over My Head" paved the way for "Rhiannon." And Bill Clinton's theme song, "Don't Stop," was not the work of an American, but a Brit, Christine McVie.

And for a while there, Christine was part of the Fleetwood Mac reunion, but then she dropped out. And too often band names are brand names and individuals are forgotten, but in Christine's case, this is unjust.

But all her Fleetwood Mac tunes stay in rotation. And if you loved those, maybe you missed her 1984 solo
album, produced by Russ Titelman, that had some traction but then disappeared, as if it were never made, but there are a few tracks that I'll never forget, that titillate me to the core.

Like "So Excited"...
"Well, I'm so excited
My baby is on his way"

It's the jangly guitar part and then the pure voice. The track exudes honesty, which is the heart of great music. You really feel like Christine has been waiting all day, cleaning the house, prepping her look, waiting for him to show up.

Who hasn't done this?

It's the essence of love. The anticipation!

"I can't eat
I can't sleep
Since the first time that I saw you
Somebody tell me
What's a poor girl supposed to do"

Eureka! Why is it that we lose our appetite? Suddenly we can survive solely on the butterflies in our stomach. We feel detached from the world but more a part of it than ever before.

"Well, I know my baby
He makes me want to scream and shout
Ooh, he shows me
Shows me what it's all about"

Funny how all the manuals tell you to be cool. Come on, every year there's a best seller supposedly delivering the key to romance. That you should hang back, not show your emotions, not move too fast, that you need to make them prove their love and commitment.


Love is a runaway train. A journey you've waited for your whole life that's even better than you imagined. And when you're caught up, you never want to let go. They say money is power. That's completely wrong. Love is power. Never forget it.

And just as magical as the acoustic guitar is in "I'm So Excited," the piano entrances you in "Ask Anybody."

"He's a devil and an angel
Ooh, the combination's driving me wild"

Don't we all know it! We fall prey to their wink, their charisma, but they don't return our phone calls, we see them out with other people, we want to let go, but we can't.

"He's a saint and he's a sinner
Ooh, somehow he acts just like a beginner
I guess he's still a child"

Oftentimes they are. They've gotten by on their looks. They're flawed. But we get caught up in their energy, we get on their trip casting aside doubt until...they let us down and we crash so hard we wonder if it was all worth it, even though we know it was...

"Ask anybody
They'll say I'm going wrong
They said I should walk out
But that's not what I want"

You ask for advice, but you don't want to listen to it. What you really want is someone to be irrational, just like you, to tell you to go for it. And despite all the naysaying, you keep going back to the well, you can't let the person go, until you've been so hurt that you admit to your friends they were right.

"But that's all right 'cause I know somehow
We can make it right and I'm putting up a fight
Somehow, somewhere he'll change
And we'll try it all over again without all the pain"

She's delusional. You've seen the movie. You've probably even lived the movie. It's not until you're old and gray that you finally realize that people don't change, and that you certainly can't change them via hope and sheer will. If only they were a little bit different...but they're not.

And then there's that wistful solo! The electronically treated sound that Titelman used to such great success on Steve Winwood's "Back In The High Life." And when it comes in again, unexpectedly, at the end of the song, you can just see it, her staring out the window, sitting in her kitchen, lying in bed, fully awake, engrossed by the thought of him, unable to let him go, even though she never really had him.

And speaking of Winwood, he vocalizes on "One In A Million."

But none of the aforementioned tracks were hits.

But "Got A Hold On Me" was. Maybe because it's the most Fleetwood Mac track on the album. It's got Christine's breathy vocal, a bouncy beat and a catchy chorus. It's really good. But not as good as "So Excited" and "Ask Anybody," which would have fit just perfectly on a Fleetwood Mac album from the seventies, when the band took chances and was not afraid to be dark and evidence its roots.

And maybe because "Christine McVie" was a relative disappointment, Christine retreated. To the point where the press still follows Stevie Nicks's every move, but Christine's been forgotten.

But for those of us who just didn't listen to the songs on the radio, who bought the albums and read all the credits, saw the musicians as three-dimensional, Christine McVie was always the queen. She may not have been a witch, but we'd still shake if we approached her in a bar, we know she'd be honest and forthright and tolerate no b.s.

That's a rock star.

Christine McVie blazed her own path, we were in love with her back then, and we still are now.

by Bob Lefsetz

Bob Lefsetz is the author of "The Lefsetz Letter." Famous for being beholden to no one and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

Never boring, always entertaining, Bob’s insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music’s American division and consultancies to major labels. –Rhino

"The Lefsetz Letter" has been publishing for over 25 years. First as hard copy, most recently as an email newsletter and now, for the first time, in blog form.


Mike said...

Like the band members will tell you, the sum is greater than the parts...but those are some damn fine parts. All of them are uniquely talented in their own right. Christine is missed, but that was her choice. Life, and Fleetwood Mac goes on.

Anonymous said...

I agree! Band names should be more carefully thought about. I personally think that the current 4 piece should be called Buckingham/Nicks featuring Mick Fleetwood and John McVie.

Gloria said...

Nice to see Christine McVie get some attention. Her solo album is a great one and I think I'll pull it out and play it today. Too bad she stopped touring/recording with Fleetwood Mac. Although it was Stevie Nicks who was my main focus when I was first discovering this band back in the mid 70's, I do miss Christine McVie when Fleetwood Mac tour.

Unknown said...

Stevie and Christine chose very different paths. Christine was perfectly fine being in the background while Stevie was in the spotlight. Stevie is one of the absolute biggest rock stars who ever lived and now, especially, she is considered to be a trail blazer and everyone in Hollywood looks up to her. Christine wants a solitary life in the English countryside - nothing wrong with that. I thought "In The Meantime" was superb, in fact I listened to it just the other day and instantly thought, "Well, this is just fantastic." Is it as heavy and "worldly" as "In Your Dreams?" No. But you wouldn't expect it to be.

Glenda said...

Love that Christine is getting some attention here - both her albums are very strong. And I must say that I have more respect for her not taking part in Fleetwood Mac than I do for the remaining members still banging away.

I look at FM now and see a band that's just not up to it. They don't play so good. They don't sing so good. The show I attended last week was pretty sad, and I was left feeling flat afterwards. It had the feel of seeing The Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney. Faded out and redundant with no more fire than a box of wet matches. It upset me to be honest, and I don't imagine I'll bother to see the band again. Everything just felt over.

But Christine will thankfully never be part of that and will always stay in fond memory and never degrade. Her songs and legacy is still so lovely, while the others have beaten the horse to a pulp.

Anonymous said...

Hey Glenda did you really attend, because I have a feeling your mind has been made up for a while. I have heard the band in recent years and plan on seeing them soon they seem very much up to the task.As for Christine everything I've seen and read leaves no credible indication that she left the band for, or will not return because of musical reasons. It was personal because she was tired of the road not the music, so lets not twist history.I've seen some of your other posts on here, and unless there are two Glenda's on here it is clear you have an anti-Stevie/Lindsey agenda.So if you really did attend the show, judging from some of your other posts on here you would no doubt be unhappy with what you saw so why attend in the first place!!! In any event since I like what I've seen recently I have no doubt I will enjoy the upcoming show!!! And I'm sorry you did not enjoy "last week's show"!!!

Glenda2 said...

@Anonymous just above...

Actually, that was my first time posting on here under anything other than "Anonymous" so if someone else is posting as Glenda, they're not me/I'm not them. I'll post as Glenda2 or something similar from now on just so there's no confusion.

I don't think I will be posting again though, as you've put me right off human interaction with your accusations & general rude way of communicating with someone you really don't even know.

Oh, and if you must know, I went to the show PA show at the Wells Fargo Center with my friend Janet. She has asthma and got chocked up in the crowd. We left 20-25 minutes before the show ended to avoid the stampede once the set was finished. She had a hit on her puffer thing and I took her home. I then went home myself. Heated some chicken wings in the microwave. They tasted terrible and I went to bed. What more do you need to know?

Don't involve me in your internet wars.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to be philosophical like some, just thought to say that I too love her voice and lyrics and tell my wife how similar she sounds to Christine. She thinks I'm silly. The power of love.

Anonymous said...

I miss Christine, but glad she didn't put herself out to please the unpleasable. It would have been sad if she was there without really wanting to be. If she ever changed her mind, I would be there in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

fleetwood mac minus christine just isn't the real fleetwood mac. she was their strongest songwriter and her voice is sensational. i want fleetwood mac to continue as they are still the best band in the world but i want them to do another album so it annoys me a bit they only tour and tour and tour and do not record.

Post a Comment