Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham talks about going his own way
by Matt Pais
October 24 2006
It’s hard to find time to make an album when one of the biggest bands of the past few decades keeps calling you away.
That’s why “Under the Skin” is Lindsey Buckingham’s first new album in 14 years. The Fleetwood Mac guitarist/singer/producer put aside new material every few years to reunite with his former band, and he even turned some of his solo work into songs for the group’s 2003 album, “Say You Will.”
But now, the moody, terrific “Under the Skin” is out–and the album so exemplifies Buckingham’s commitment to going his own way that he says reps at Warner Brothers “wanted it to be more normal.” (The songs on “Under the Skin” are mostly meditative singing and guitar finger-picking. Buckingham says he plans to do a more “electric” album next.)
We know he has a ton of fans, so while Buckingham hung out in Cleveland, we asked him to address some of his detractors.
We love the record, but one publication said your voice is “a raspy yelling sound … like a wet cat stuck under a couch.” Ouch.
Well, that’s nice. You can’t please everybody. That was probably a Stevie Nicks fan.
What lessons did you learn in Fleetwood Mac as you and Stevie–and John and Christine McVie–endured breakups?
There are a lot of lessons … the whole idea of breaking up with someone and not really having the closure and having to make the choice to sort of take the high road or to at least damn the torpedoes; however you want to look at it. And push through. It wasn’t necessarily the best for one’s emotions–for one’s mental health, shall we say–but, you know, it was sort of a destiny that we had to fulfill. The lesson of all that is hold on and don’t let yourself sink to the bottom, and eventually things will get better.
The group played at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Would you have played at President Bush’s?
Oh, sure! Yeah, right. No, no, not at all. I mean, I was not completely interested in playing at Bill’s–although he was a great guy–only because it was so out of context with anything that we’d ever done. It was a little bizarre. A touch of fear and loathing, being there in that world. But in retrospect I was glad we did. No, Bush, is … what can you say about Bush? Can’t say anything about Bush.
Well, can you say something about your college water polo coach, who said you’d always be a loser after quitting the team?
Two weeks in [to joining the team], I just realized that I was not that person anymore; I was sort of growing my hair out and it just wasn’t for me anymore. I was trying to be real nice about it. This was a guy who was actually a really great coach. He had coached my older brother who went on to be an Olympian. Like me and music, that was his world, water polo and swimming. So he couldn’t think outside that box. I said, “I just can’t do this anymore.” And he couldn’t grasp it. So that’s what he said; he thought I was just quitting. It was just the standard thing of losers never win, blah blah blah. It was almost a cliche. He said, “You’re a loser, and you’ll always be a loser.” And I said, “OK. Well, thanks.”
Has he heard your music?
Oh, I’m sure he has [heard it]. In fact, I think I met him once years later and he wouldn’t even give it up then. He was still pissed off.
Matt Pais is the metromix music and movies producer.
Originally published Oct. 25, 2006.