“Why does the greatest love become the greatest pain?”
— Stevie Nicks, “Thousand Days“
Sometimes I imagine a parallel universe where Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham never met cute while singing “California Dreaming” together at a youth church function in 1966. Without that moment, there would be no Buckingham Nicks album, no chiffon-twirling witchiness, no Rumours, and a lot less pain spread out over the lives of the five members of Fleetwood Mac who took the stage on Sunday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. That isn’t to say that the music that poured out from the decades of fighting, jealousy, drugs, and break-ups wasn’t sublime — it has always been that and more. But, while Fleetwood Mac’s tortured path through the pain has always been fascinating and tuneful, it has not always been easy to watch.
Known for his dense, sunny arrangements of Fleetwood Mac’s romantic turmoil, Lindsey Buckingham contributed this plaintive piano ballad to the band’s 2013 iTunes-only EP, Extended Play. A self-proclaimed stylist and studio rat, Buckingham has regularly infused both his contributions to Fleetwood Mac albums and solo output with his signature layered, guitar-laden production.
In some ways, “It Takes Time” is a radical departure for Lindsey Buckingham, a rare piano track adorned only with a delicate string arrangement. Yet, the raw emotion of the track is classic Buckingham. While the personal mythology of Stevie Nicks and the feel-good love songs of Christine McVie may have garnered them bigger hits, Buckingham’s heartfelt and direct lyrics, from “Go Your Own Way” to his still-modern contributions to Tusk, have always revealed him as the band’s beating, and often broken, heart.
Mention Stevie Nicks and the image of a waifish, witchy singer twirling on stage is sure to come to mind. However, beyond the crepe shawls, Nicks has always been a distinctive songwriter, whose songs display a weathered wisdom and a unique sense of melody that have made her an enduring favorite. That isn’t to say that Nicks is a perfect songwriter. At times, her repeated invocation of dreams, chains, angels, and her other personal talismans can be too self-referential. Similarly, some of her songs can be so specifically autobiographical that it is hard for the listener to identify with the larger themes that shine through in her best work.
That said, there is no doubt that Nicks made good use of her tumultuous 20s and 30s. For her upcoming album, 24 Karat Gold, Nicks has mined her considerable archives to officially record some of the leaked demo tapes that have been circulating among her fans for over 20 years. The first single from 24 Karat Gold is “The Dealer,” a song that appeared first as a demo from the 1978 Fleetwood Mac Tusk Sessions, but was subsequently re-recorded for possible inclusion on her first solo album, Bella Donna, but didn’t make the final cut either time.