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Old 11-20-2018, 12:44 PM
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this dissecting of NGBA and Tusk lyrics doesn't quite fit here, but the keywords are about the anthology / review.....

Lindsey Buckingham
Written by Jennifer Parker
11.09.18 | Music
Lindsey Buckingham

Photo of Lindsey Buckingham courtesy APM

She broke down and let me in
Made me see where Iíve been

Been down one time
Been down two times
Iím never going back again

You donít know what it means to win
Come down and see me again

Been down one time
Been down two times
Iím never going back again

Songwriter: Lindsey Buckingham

Fifty-three words. For decades, the better part of half-a-century, rock-fans have practically made a sport out of deconstructing the meaning behind the lyrics of Never Going Back Again. Go ahead, Google ďNever Going Back Again lyricsĒ and see how many hits you get. Hereís the thing: there are people who love Lindsey Buckinghamís music and there are outright fans. It seems like and yeah, Iím generalizing big time here, fans more or less care about the mystique of the forever handsome Mr. Buckingham and of course, they love the music. Fans invest themselves into the lives of the performer by trying to understand what was going on in his head when he wrote a song. Then there are straight-up music lovers.

Iíll admit to watching two documentaries and at least three interviews about Buckingham and I donít recall the topic of the meaning behind the lyrics even being whispered. Rumors can get you in deep yogurt. Resisting a juicy story about beautiful and talented people whacked out on cocaine seems impossible. Webpage after webpage someone waxes on and on about unrequited love and infidelity. Come on people, it was the 70s. Sex, drugs, rock ní roll. If you dig it, dig deeper. Each verse only has two lines. There are two verses. They never repeat. The chorus in most renditions repeats twice. In the newest and my current favorite version, from Buckinghamís Solo Anthology, it repeats a third time adding a whopping thirteen extra words. Hereís another thing that blows my mind: almost all of the words have one syllable. Only three have two syllables and they repeat in the chorus with one exception. Again is the last word of the second verse. It repeats in the fifth, the seventh and the tenth lines. There are conventions when it comes to writing a pop song. Most have two verses and two to three rounds of the chorus and if the song is popularóthe chorus is jaunty, easy to remember and will get stuck in your headópossibly forever. So what makes this song so special?

From Never Going Back to You Can Never Leave

1977 was a good year for rock ní roll. Disco was hot but the songs that have truly endured in our collective Americana consciousness in my opinion can be sampled from Billboardís top two hundred albums that year. They werenít all the same. Look at Hotel California by the Eagles. It tells a story, with multiple syllabic words. It too has a memorable and melancholy intro on the guitar followed by words that at least I can quote with accuracy, ďOn a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the airÖĒ I could go on and I bet you could too. If youíre feeling nostalgic go ahead and give It a go. It might take you back, even if you werenít born yet to a time when you thought the friends you had in high school were the friends you were going to keep forever. I think the challenge isnít to get caught up in the nostalgia for a moment but to think about what makes the song endure. Why does it evoke feelings of a time that is no longeróthat cannot possibly be recaptured? Donít get distracted by the words but listen to the music. Those few notes at the beginning of Hotel Californiaósomething as a non-musician that I can only describe as a feeling but that isnít good enough for me. I want to know why I feel this way because only certain songs get inside my head, become such a part of my long-term memory, that Iím able to recall not only where I was when I heard a song for the first time but how the fabric on the seat of my motherís car felt, to the AC blowing on my nine-year-old face.

Life in the Slow Lane

Hard to imagine a more chill concert than Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco. In October, on the eve of his US tour, Buckingham played Never Going Back Again as the sun was beginning to wane over Golden Gate Park. If you arenít familiar with Chris Thileís, Live From Here public radio program, Thile is the mandolin virtuoso who took over A Prarie Home Companion. Before you scoff, Iíll remind you that the words hardly strictly doesnít mean a total absence of bluegrass nor does it mean that Thile doesnít rock the folksy looking instrument with a curvy body and short neck. Besides, heís funny AF so if youíre uninitiated give his show a listen (and no, I donít work for NPR). With a backdrop of eucalyptus trees, the outdoor stage was covered with a smattering of sound dampening worn area rugs. Buckingham stood on the stage in a pair of jeans, a simple black t-shirt and leather jacket, closed his eyes and started to play his acoustic guitar. He begins with a wistful melody then just outright stopsóalmost as if he hits rewind, takes a deep breath, nods, then the familiar bars of intro chords before he starts singing. Iím hung up on why this song works. I mean, it is more than forty years old. Hairstyles from four decades ago look ridiculous through the lens of 2018. Shoes donít even look the same. Baffled, I consulted some talented musicians who happen to be friends. One friend, Sammy who writes commercial jingles said that he spends a lot of time thinking about what makes music objectively good. He pointed me Leonard Bernstein who, thanks to the internet, will live in perpetuity. Bernstein schooled me on a combo of four notes that forms the beginning of hundreds of songs. Thereís a problem though. My music reading skills are suboptimal. I sent the Bernstein link to my friend Lili who sadly informed me that Bernsteinís four notes begin neither Never Coming Back Again nor Hotel California. So what do the two songs have in common? They both adhere to ye oleí conventional pop music time signature of 4/4 time, which simply means there are four beats in a measure. Beyond that? Not a heck of a lot. Hotel California hardly conforms to pop lyrics. It has a whopping six verses and two measly rounds of chorus but oh do we remember them, ďany time of year, you can find it here.Ē What both songs have in common is a memorable melody at the beginning. The Eagles are pretty steady in terms of tempo throughout so this is where I find Buckingham remarkable. In my opinion, Buckingham goes outside the constructs of conventional popular music by going inside. And then it hit meóLindsey Buckingham sings like he is making mad passionate love, the kind that Iím not even sure exists IRL through his musicóand friends, I was shook.

Love Is a Four Letter Word

Donít say that you love me
Just tell me that you want me

Tusk 1979 Songwriter: Lindsey Buckingham

Mr. Buckingham, I couldnít agree more. Iím sick of being told that people love me. I donít even know what it means. I think it is better to care about people. It carries more gravitas. I love my kid. I used to love my parents but they are wicked dead. I have deep feelings for lots of people but love? It has become a colloquial thing that people throw around like ďthatís dope.Ē But, want? Yeah, I can dig that one. Everyone knows what it means to want something. Yet, Iím noticing something for the first time. You arenít suggesting that someone has to believe it. They just have to say it. So now Iím freaking hung up on the difference between say and tell. Is there an etymological difference or is it really two ways of stating the same thing? Gotta figure that one out before I commit to an opinion. From what I can glean, the salient diff between say and tell is when you say something, you donít mention who said it but when you tell someone something you do. I think tell screams commit. Say? not so much. When You tell someone something it is actionable. You are explicitly stating what you want. In this case, ďme.Ē You are telling another person that you want them to tell you that they want you. Yikes. Somehow, it feels easier to say that you love someone. Itís just a word. Telling another human being that you want them can set you up for a world of hurt, rejection and disappointment. Telling another person to tell you that they want you, that they desire you with an abandonment that means that you are vulnerable to rejection because you are giving everything in the moment to someone else, without expectation of anything in return? I dunno. You can ask for anything you want, that doesnít mean youíre going to get it. I think there is a difference between telling them what to do and telling them what you need. But being clear about your needs? Telling someone something with such specificity that you are risking everything in the moment? Iíll admit, Iíve never been great at asking for what I want. Need? Fuggedaboutit. Iím no expert on romantic love. Iím not even sure I know what romantic love is. Until I started writing about this song, I thought I knew that Iíve been the physical receptacle of other peopleís wants but that is not the same as romantic love nor even desire. This song makes me wander down rabbit holes that Iím not excited about exploring. It occurs to me that want and need are two different verbs.

When It Comes to Music, Forty Is Not the New Thirty

If like me, youíre a person who cares about higher order thinking, the big picture, the grand scheme of things, however you want to label the gestalt of your existence, you are no more risking permanent emotional devastation than stepping on a piece of gum on the sidewalk. It might throw you for a bit on the short term but youíll figure it out and it will have no impact on the rest of your life. Get out the peanut butter or the Goo-Goneô or if youíre really desperate, drop the damn thing off at the shoemaker (therapist) but donít feel sorry for yourself that you stepped in it. Youíre gonna be alright. I think thatís the appeal of TUSK. But big picture thinking is a nifty hat trick when youíre trying to get laid. Oh, did I just say that? Iím way oversimplifying it. I mean trying to get laid with feeling. Like you are in a place so transcendent, where your needs and wants are synergistic with someone elseís needs and wants that saying that you love the person is a distraction. You donít need to, you feel it.

If I told you about the first time I heard this song, youíd wonder why I like it so much. I was in the back of my fatherís convertible. My not yet step-mom was in the front. I was sitting behind the passenger seat and my brother was to my left. We were on the ďshelf.Ē No proper back seat in the late 1970s 350 Mercedes SLs. We must have been fighting so my father, who went to the parenting school of react first and ask questions (maybe) later and turned the volume to ď11.Ē I remember being somewhat terrified of his response. A fearful kid, I hated loud anything, yet I was calmed by the repetitive drum beat, punctuated by what I think is a dissonant th-wang, no, not twang, but a distinct th-wang of a guitar that got my attention. I know that I didnít get the words for sure at age eleven. I understood them literally but I am sure I didnít ascribe any meaning to the lyrics. [If my lay personís description is too pedestrian for you, I checked, it is a D minor chord on an acoustic guitar according to my friend, Lili.]

Ok. Iím going to come right out and say it because Iím a grown-ass woman. This song ****ing does it for me. (Yeah, yeah, I know that tusk is slang for penis and Iím not sure it is even relevant in context to the song.) The 83 word song has a brass band, a relentless, driving beat, some versions have a guitar and a synthesizer. Mr. Buckingham, are you yodeling? Howling? It has kind of an echo like sound in a canyon/stadium/lonesome cowboy/edge going for it. The most recent version begins with the delicate swoosh* of cymbals that onomatopoeically sounds like a faintly shaking rain stick, the familiar guitar chords and then the drumming, the relentless rhythm, always, the unmistakable beat that I have not been able to shake since 1979, that once begun marches and pounds the words into the floor, ďbut donít say that you love me; just tell me that you want me,Ē and then just the music building and building with no more singing. Is it too much for words? Because when you want something that badly, when you canít make another person see you for who you really are, there really are no words.

Thanks, Mats.

Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham, a compilation drawn from records he has made outside the Mac since the early Eighties.

Tags: Jennifer Parker, music, review

"kind of weird: a tribute to the dearly departed from a band that can treat its living like trash"
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