In their standout album “Rumours,” Fleetwood Mac poured out tales of real-life breakups involving Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie. While musically on a pinnacle, their personal worlds were turbulent, echoed in their tracks. One song, in particular, was a tug at Buckingham’s heartstrings, and it wasn’t merely a reflection of his split from Nicks.
The Emotional Struggle of Singing “Never Going Back Again”
Buckingham channeled his feelings regarding his split with Nicks into the song “Never Going Back Again.” The termination of their long-standing relationship was tumultuous, and this song was Buckingham’s testament to moving forward. Yet, its rendition was far from smooth.
Ken Caillat, the producer, recounted in Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album how the initial performance broke down. Buckingham’s voice wavered, resembling the cracks in Alfalfa from The Little Rascals. On attempting again, a realization hit – the song was in an incorrect key, making hours of work void. The sheer surprise of this oversight left everyone stunned, given it was Buckingham’s composition.
The Guitar Challenge in “Never Going Back Again”
The key debacle aside, the vibrancy Buckingham sought in the song led to another challenge – frequent string replacements on his guitar. As Caillat mentioned, every time the string’s vibrancy diminished, it was replaced, a process that took 20 minutes, but lasted only 30 minutes of play. The pursuit of perfection dragged on, with the primary guitar part being accomplished four hours later. Layers of guitar parts continued to be added, extending their work session to over 10 hours.
Buckingham’s Hesitancy and the Emotional Undertones of the Song
When it came time for Buckingham to vocalize “Never Going Back Again,” he chose to do so without Fleetwood Mac’s presence. As per Caillat, the weight of singing it before Nicks was too profound. Despite Buckingham terming the song as “frivolous” in In Their Own Words: Songwriters Talk About the Creative Process by Bill DeMain, its covert working title “Brushes” and his reticence to perform it in front of Nicks spoke volumes. Behind the seemingly light-hearted tune was the gravity of parting ways with a beloved partner and musical ally.
Behind the notes and lyrics of “Rumours,” Fleetwood Mac’s journey of passion, heartbreak, and resilience comes alive. Their dedication to musical perfection, intertwined with personal emotions, showcases the beauty and pain in the art of creation.