The Fleetwood Mac album Stevie Nicks called “a nightmare”

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac has never claimed to have the easiest album sessions in the world. Throughout their time with each lineup, it was anyone’s guess whether their time recording would end with artists throwing their instruments down in frustration or a fistfight over who got the most songs on the record. Stevie Nicks always tried to make the best of every situation in the band. But she admitted that one album was a complete disaster to put together.

When Nicks joined ‘The Mac‘ with Lindsey Buckingham in the mid-1970s, it appeared that everything would work out perfectly. The blues band had lost its longtime guitarist. So Bob Welch, brought in two world-class songwriters to round out the lineup gave way to the biggest hits of their career on songs like ‘Over My Head’ and ‘Landslide’.

The band entered the studio to record their next album. During that time they’d been through enough emotional turmoil. With two interband relationships falling apart, many of the songs on Rumours reflected their broken hearts. It was from Buckingham’s ‘Go Your Own Way’  to Christine McVie wishing John McVie peace on ‘Songbird‘.

The album was not easy to make. But it quickly became a landmark album for the band, becoming one of the best-selling albums ever. Any band would love the idea of having their songs played wherever they went. But one looming question remained: how would they follow it up?

By the time the band entered the studio to record what would become Tusk, each member had a different vision for where the band should go. Nicks was looking to broaden her horizons as a spiritual rock songwriter. But Buckingham had become obsessed with the sounds of post-punk and new-wave music. He was attempting to bring that nervy energy into his Brian Wilson-influenced symphonies.

Looking back on the album, most band members split the difference creatively. It results in a double album of material that could cause tonal whiplash if the listener isn’t careful. Nicks appreciated the opportunity to get songs like ‘Sara‘ off the ground. But she didn’t always remember the sessions positively.

When discussing Fleetwood Mac’s post-rumours period, Nicks described it as a hellish environment while waiting for the rest of the band to gel. She recalls in  Gold Dust Woman,That whole thing was a nightmare. It was horrible: months of sitting in that room, five days a week, all day and sometimes all night, on the couch, just waiting.

Nicks had also come out of a very public affair with drummer Mick Fleetwood. She admitted to getting tense in the studio. Regardless of band camaraderie, Nicks frequently set her foot down in the studio. She was determined that none of her songs would be sabotaged in favor of what her bandmates desired.

It didn’t take long for Nicks to feel comfortable outside of her primary outfit. As the 1980s began, Nicks released her first solo album, Bella Donna. It also delicately balanced her time with Fleetwood Mac whenever possible. Nicks was indebted to the band that helped her reach the highest musical heights imaginable. But Tusk was the moment she realized she didn’t need them as a crutch either.

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