How Fleetwood Mac blended tradition and technology on Everywhere

If Christine McVie had her way, Fleetwood Mac’s ’80s might have sounded simpler. “I tend to like the traditional sound,” she said Rolling Stone 1984. “Three part harmonies, guitar and piano. I mean, a guitar well played is an everlasting joy.”

But Lindsey Buckingham had a slightly different idea for much of the music the band released during the decade, particularly 1987’s Tango at night, an album featuring Buckingham’s new favorite toy, a Fairlight CMI synthesizer. The sparkling sound that opens McVie’s “Everywhere,” the only song on the LP attributed solely to the keyboardist, is a result of the instrument.

Buckingham also experimented with new recording techniques, sometimes playing tapes at half or double speed to create an artificial sound that could not be easily reproduced. (“The intro to Everywhere” features half-speed acoustic and electric guitar recordings.) “That’s part of what makes it so [album sound] also open and airy”, Greg Droman, the engineer Tango at nightremembers salon in 2017. “If you pick up something really slow and speed it up, all the overtones are shifted up. You end up with that high end, that ringing little high end that wouldn’t exist [otherwise]. You couldn’t get it any other way, at least not back then.”

This willingness to push the boundaries of tape technology, coupled with the Fairlight’s extensive use, had a downside, as Richard Dashut, co-producer of Buckingham, noted. “I loved what it did sonically. But I was starting to miss the band’s old live feel,” he said. “I think the Fairlight has started to replace some of that human touch, some of the other band members. Lindsey was able to do a lot more on her own and had a lot more artistic control.”

That Buckingham was in control most of the time Tango at night‘s recording made sense because the album started out as a Buckingham solo project. It slowly became a band record as members got involved. While the band didn’t necessarily work together most of the time, that doesn’t mean the job didn’t get done. “Sometimes it’s hard to explain our relationship,” Buckingham said Los Angeles Times in June 1987, two months after the LP’s release.

“There’s a strong, almost psychic bond, but we’re not even really friends [in the sense] that we spend a lot of time together. Most of the time we are a group of individuals who happen to play well together. We’re not even all in the studio at the same time. We’re only a real band on stage.”

Even when it came to Buckingham taking the reins of her song, McVie was confident in his abilities. “It’s just a kind of natural leadership. He spends all his time in the studio and frankly someone has to do it,” she said. “It’s not like we all sit around and say, ‘Yes Lindsey, no Lindsey.’ We have input I could [veto] Things he does with my songs, but he’s very good at his craft.”

Check out Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere video

McVie’s “Everywhere” is a love song at its core. McVie had recently married her second husband, keyboardist and songwriter Eddy Quintela, who had some co-writing credits Tango at night. In “Everywhere,” McVie expresses her excitement at this new chapter in her life: “You know I’m falling and I don’t know what to say.”

Nobody in Fleetwood Mac appeared in the video for “Everywhere”, released in November 1987 as the album’s fourth single. Instead, the clip is based on Alfred Noyes’ 1906 poem “The Highwayman,” which tells the story of two lovers lying in death: “Look for me by moonlight, watch for me by moonlight / I’ll come to thee by moonlight , though hell should bar the way!

In the end, McVie found Buckingham’s recording technique was just the right note for their simple love song, she recalled in the 2019 documentary Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird – Christine McVie the moment Buckingham showed her how the song’s intro would come about. “He slowed down the tape, really slow, and played the roles slowly,” she said. “And then when it came down to the right speed, it sounded amazing as hell.”

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It’s easy to focus on Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks when looking at a list of Fleetwood Mac albums, but the band’s legacy goes far beyond that.


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