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elle 01-29-2013 08:31 AM

What Makes Me Think He's the One?: In Praise of Lindsey Buckingham


What Makes Me Think He's the One?: In Praise of Lindsey Buckingham

It hit me on Sunday evening, right at the moment that my friend introduced me to Lindsey Buckingham. Not "What an odd name for a fish!" (Nemo and The Incredible Mr. Limpet aside, I've never really understood the practice of naming fish.) Sure, that thought did cross my mind, but it was totally upstaged by another one: Is there a more underrated rock & roll multi-hyphenate than the singer-songwriter/producer/guitarist of Fleetwood Mac for whom my friend's fish is named?

When people think of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks is generally the first bandmate who comes to mind, but Buckingham was just as much of an FM (as in Fleetwood Mac and FM radio) MVP in the '70s and '80s. More than any other member, his creative stamp dominated the group's '77 best-seller Rumours, as well as FM's three follow-ups (the 1979 masterpiece Tusk, 1982's Mirage and 1987's Tango in the Night). When he began a decade-long hiatus from the band in the late '80s, FM had to hire two new members to replace him, and his absence was all over the band's Buckingham-free 1990 album Behind the Mask.

Contemporary monsters of pop-rock never list him first when they rattle off the names of their greatest influences, but for decades now, the relatively unsung hero has been inspiring scores of younger acts (largely through his extensive contributions to Tusk, the weirdest follow-up to the biggest album ever ever, for which he received a bold-print "Special thanks from the band to Lindsey Buckingham" credit): R.E.M., the Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, the Jayhawks, Matthew Sweet and fun., among so many others. More recently, This Is 40 director Judd Apatow used three of his songs on the soundtrack of the recently released film, which was scored by Jon Brion, Fiona Apple's sometime producer who, along with Apple herself, probably owes a major artistic debt to Buckingham.

On the best of Buckingham, he masters the art of melody laced with madness (or of finding the tension inside the sweetness, as Terence Trent D'Arby would say). Often favorably compared to the Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson for his melodic gifts, he can both unsettle and soothe, sometimes within the same verse. This may not be the stuff that solo pop hits are made of (on his own, Buckingham has had only two Top 40 singles, including the 1981 Top 10 "Trouble"), but it's rock for the ages.

I've already written the praises of "Tusk," the Buckingham-penned first single from the Fleetwood Mac album of the same name (read all about it here), and "Holiday Road," his solo single from the 1983 film National Lampoon's Vacation (check it out once and twice), but here are 10 more reasons why Buckingham deserves to be a fish's namesake and so much more.

"Never Going Back Again" (Fleetwood Mac, from Rumours, 1977)

"Second Hand News" (from Rumours)

"Walk a Thin Line" (Fleetwood Mac, from Tusk, 1979)

"That's All for Everyone" (from Tusk)

"Trouble" (from Law and Order, 1981)

"Empire State" (Fleetwood Mac, from Mirage, 1982)

"Can't Go Back" (from Mirage)

"Slow Dancing" (from Go Insane, 1984)

"Big Love" (Fleetwood Mac, from Tango in the Night, 1987)

"Walls (Circus)" (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers featuring Lindsey Buckingham, from Songs and Music from "She's the One," 1996)

Posted by Jeremy Helligar at 11:45 AM

michelej1 01-29-2013 12:09 PM

Very nice. Or he can find the sweetness in the tension as well.


michelej1 03-07-2014 12:23 PM

[Description of WMYTYTO by Austin Kleon, as he concocts a music playlist for his book]

Fleetwood Mac - "What Makes You Think You're The One?"

After their album Rumours was a big hit, Fleetwood Mac went nuts and spent a million dollars recording their coked-up followup, Tusk. Lindsey Buckingham went particularly crazy, listened to a bunch of punk rock records, chopped his hair off, and did whatever he could to *not* make Tusk sound anything like Rumours. He cut a lot of the songs as demos at home, then tried to duplicate them himself in the studio, but he let Mick Fleetwood and John McVie play on this track. It's the sound of a man unhinged—trying desperately to struggle out of the straightjacket he's been put in by his own success.

elle 08-28-2017 06:55 PM

bumping for some WMYTYTO love! so wishing i could hear it live......... like on the next leg of Buckingham McVie tour would be a good opportunity!

bwboy 08-28-2017 08:36 PM

Agreed- What Makes You Think You're the One is fantastic and would be a great addition to the set list. I adore I Know I'm Not Wrong, so I would hate to have to trade one for the other, so do 'em both!

Tusk is the only FM album where I have such a complex love/hate relationship with Lindsey's songs- I love many of them but hate a couple, too. I mean, hate them to the point that when I hear the first note, I get irritated and quickly skip them. But these two are some of my favorite FM songs ever, so what can I say :confused:

bombaysaffires 08-29-2017 12:28 PM

one of his best "I hate you Stevie" songs.....:shocked:

Macfan4life 08-29-2017 06:08 PM

No way
This Jeremy does not know very much about Lindsey's solo work.

StreetAngel95 08-30-2017 04:02 PM

I really like the premise of this article to be honest. We always hear the epithet that Lindsey is the "most underrated guitarist" from the 70s but he's so much more than that.

Here's a few songs that to me, when played as a group, truly showcase Lindsey not only as a guitar player but as a craftsman of stories and music. He has incredible sense of atmosphere and somehow always seems to know exactly what intricacies to add to each song and where to let there be space. Not only that but he really is a great vocalist, which I think shouldn't go unnoticed, but sometimes gets over shadowed by way of Stevie.

In no particular order,

1. Bel Air Rain
2. I'm So Afraid
3. Oh Diane
4. In Our Own Time
5. Save Me a Place
6. Say We'll Meet Again (including This Nearly Was Mine)
7. Not That Funny (specifically the arrangement while touring 'Mirage')
8. Big Love (I felt the need to include this because Lindsey points to this song as the turning point in his artistic style)
9. This Is The Time
10. Tusk

To me, that's a list that gets you a sense of just the kind of artist he is. His metaphorical and autobiographical style of lyrics, overlaying of ethereal guitar techniques, an intuitive sense of pop melody a la Pet Sounds with just the right amount of darkness, sarcasm, and grit. I always say that Lindsey makes a guitar 'sing,' that it's an extension of his voice and tells a story all on its own. Lindsey has created a sound unto himself and it can never be duplicated or copied.

Lindseyfan 09-21-2017 06:36 PM

Lindsey's simply amazing and so incredibly talented! As for being underrated, um yes!! Rolling Stone magazine should be forced to recant their placing of Lindsey on their 100 greatest guitarist list (as 100 out of 100, what were they thinking?!?) and put him at the top where he belongs!

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