A vintage Fleetwood Mac press photo
Courtesy of the Rock Hall Library and Archive

Revolutions: Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours"

REVOLUTIONS EXPLORES SOME OF THE RECORDS THAT HAVE ALTERED AND INFLUENCED THE MUSIC WORLD.

The Rock Hall and Klipsch Audio take fans deep inside these albums to showcase their significance and impact. In 1977, the breezy California rock album Rumours by Fleetwood Mac brought listeners straight into the inner turmoil of the band's heartache. We examine the album's impact. 

Bitter jealousies, turbulent fights, deep regrets and longing fueled the creation of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours. The album’s frank lyrics and rollercoaster tempos don’t just tell the story of heartbreak, they bring listeners through the dredges of turmoil and reluctant optimism. 

Rumours exemplifies the breezy, California-centric rock sound of the '70s. The lighthearted and catchy aspects of tracks like “Go Your Own Way” and “Secondhand News” are complicated by lyrics about romantic dysfunction. For a record built on breakups and deceit, Rumours sounds surprisingly joyous at times.

To craft Rumours, Fleetwood Mac settled in at the famed Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, California, with producer Ken Caillat.

The recording process was marked by fighting.  

Long-time duo Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were in the midst of a painful split. John and Christine McVie's eight-year marriage was dissolving. Drummer Mick Fleetwood’s divorce followed the news of his wife’s affair with a friend.

Fleetwood Mac channeled this tension into deeply personal lyrics that held nothing back. Music-wise, the band was at the peak of their creative powers.

Nicks addresses her troubled relationship directly with "I Don't Want To Know," a twangy country-folk duet with Buckingham.

On the mellow soft rocker "Dreams," she alludes to her ex's unsavory behavior, the details of her melancholy set to an insistent, pirouetting drum pattern.

Buckingham's urgent tune "Go Your Own Way"—a song that's both accusatory and pleading—was his way of saying goodbye to Nicks, while on "Second Hand News," he defiantly dismisses her.

Still, Rumours wasn't consumed by bitterness. From the swinging "Don't Stop" to "You Make Loving Fun," the album is also about the optimism of being with someone new and free of heartache.  

Being close to the emotional reality of the turmoil made songwriting easier and purposeful. 

Nicks wrote "Dreams" in 10 minutes, while hanging out in a Record Plant studio room decked out for Sly Stone, while Christine McVie was jolted awake in the middle of the night and had "Songbird" pour out of her head.

And the entire quintet contributed to "The Chain," a thundering, menacing stomp stitched together from multiple previous songs.

Rumours spent 31 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard album charts, and went on to sell over 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling records of all time.

Today, the album remains a touchstone for countless modern rock and pop bands. Artists and listeners have both identified with Fleetwood Mac's honest portrayals of relationship drama, and the album is a source of emotional solace for anyone dealing with heartbreak.

But Rumours also remains a candid songwriting triumph that cemented Fleetwood Mac's status as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

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