A Full Spectrum of Finger Flipping in Forty Minutes
by Iryna Byelyayeva
“The result is very moving, when you listen to it back to back everything is strung together as it was like something out of a diary”
– Christine McVie (2009, Don’t Stop)
The Breakup Album has become a whole genre in itself. It must be crafted with such precision to illustrate the expansive range of emotions we go through during the downfall of a relationship. It must be melancholic but upbeat, aggressive but take care not to dip too much into spitefulness. A good breakup album allows you to indulge in your feelings of sadness and regret while helping you feel fired up and strong. It’s an artform which is becoming more popular. These days we have Haim’s Days Are Gone (2013), Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane (2002), Adele’s 21 (2011). However none of these will ever trump Rumours (1977).
Fleetwood Mac’s iconic album is undeniably the best of its genre. Rumours is the wise woman of breakup albums—the one every other aspiring breakup album visits to receive a blessing but never reaches the same standard. The songs have meaning and pain and regret and hope. When you’re going through a tough time, this is the album to turn to.
Second Hand News
Lindsey Buckingham is the king of passive-aggressive. Calling yourself second-hand with a cheery beat is just mocking the person who put you aside. You think Lindsey cares you left him for someone else? Please refer to the line ‘one thing I think you should, I ain’t gonna miss you when you go,’ and get over yourself.
Stevie Nicks wrote this song before the couple’s final breakup. As a way of explaining her motivations, her hopes and feelings poured out through these spiritual lyrics. The chorus is so painfully beautiful. Stevie really allows you to have a moment with your sadness and memories. ‘Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?’ is such a great line. All the hurt and anger turned to thunder and washed her clean, now she’s finally left with a clear understanding of the situation.
Never Going Back Again
We all go through this. Been down one time, been down two times, never bloody going back again. We know how the story ends. This song is such a pretty pause in the building emotion, like someone forgot to stop strumming their guitar while being lost in thought.
The worst song on the album. A travesty. Terrible cheeriness completely detracts from the message Christine was giving to her soon-to-be-ex husband.
Go Your Own Way
This is peak Lindsey and the song that sent Stevie off the edge. After she had written the sad, resigned and accepting ‘Dreams,’ Lindsey wrote ‘shackin’ up is all you wanna do.’ Telling someone you could give them the world, asking them to open up and then just flipping them off when they walk away. They are their own problem now. This song is so therapeutic, would definitely recommend singing to your ex while drunk.
After ‘Go Your Own Way,’ you need to have a solid cry and think about the love you still have for that person. The marriage between Christine and John McVie had come to an end and this is probably the kindest way of showing someone you still love them. You wish them all the best but it’s not right anymore and you need to take care of yourself as well. Even though your relationship is over, it doesn’t detract from the good times.
This is the anti-dote for the pointless cheeriness of ‘Don’t Stop.’ None of the members of Fleetwood Mac will romantically love each other again, yet they are tied together by their incredible talent and damned by their own love stories. Mick Fleetwood’s strong, steady drumbeat creates a simple canvas for the vocalists to blend their voices into each other’s and then splinter off, each singer giving out a note which epitomises their own style. They are trying to be heard as individuals but are so satisfying as a chorus. The screaming guitar solo paves the way for them to cry out ‘chains keeps us together’ and it is so tragically invigorating.
You Make Loving Fun
Subtly the harshest song on the whole album. Can you imagine being John McVie (for those of you who can, I’m so sorry)? Having to play along to a song about your lighting director making your recently-ex wife believe in magic again? Christine—the dark horse of brutality.
I Don’t Want to Know
Another ‘I’m done with this’ track. Listen to this after all the fighting and tornados—’I don’t wanna know the reasons why I love you… I just want you to feel fine.’ You’re done with the drama, now you can both move on.
John McVie has stated, in one of the many documentaries about this album, that he still believes this song is secretly addressed to him. This makes Christine’s line ‘if there’s been a fool around, it’s got to be me’ so painful to hear after cringing through ‘You Make Loving Fun’. ‘I’m so weak but you’re so strong … and I can’t walk away from you, baby, if I tried’—is she just using another man to soother her wounds? Does she think she has fucked up? Did they ever make eye contact while performing this song?!
The biggest mistake of the album was removing this song to make room for ‘Don’t Stop.’ Thank goodness for rereleases. Stevie’s performance in this song is incredible. Starting off sad and longing, the lyrics flip between wanting and not wanting to know the true nature of the ex’s new relationship. Anger is demonstrated in such a beautiful way, with Stevie threatening to haunt Lindsey with her voice (and, in that way, through her success as a singer). He will never get away from the women who could have loved him, the woman he hurt. The emotion of the song builds and builds and soon we’re listening to Stevie’s vocal muscles stretch to their full potential as she belts out the lyrics with such a passion of a woman scorned you really have to wonder if Lindsey ever felt a little bit scared. Telling yourself the other person never loved you is such a classic coping mechanism—take their fake love, make it meaningless and build yourself into a powerful person regardless of the hurt you felt.
Gold Dust Woman
The last song on the album is really a ‘we fucked up’ song. The Gold Dust Woman, according to Stevie, is cocaine. It’s a harsh and nasty song which sneers at its own creators. ‘Did she make you cry… shatter your illusions of love? And is it over now, do you know how to pick up the pieces and go home?’ Honestly, probably not, so you write a terrifyingly great album and go on tour.
Note: biographical elements of the piece were taken from 2009 BBC documentary Don’t Stop.
Iryna is a creative lady living in Melbourne, Australia. She is the Editor of The Wall and gets published here and there. She can be followed on twitter @irynabyel