From Tame Impala to Santana: The best Fleetwood Mac covers of all time
Starting life as the twisted creation of an avid R&B enthusiast in Peter Green, coupled with the percussive and persistent power of Mick Fleetwood, Fleetwood Mac has gone on to become one of the biggest bands the world has ever seen. Soon enough John McVie joined the group as bassist, then his wife Christine was a member, with the group finally adding Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in 1975. Selling millions of records during the height of their fame, the band is one of very few acts who continue to be discovered and rediscovered as the years pass by. It seems as though every generation has their ‘Mac moment’ and for Gen Z, that came in the form of a viral TikTok video — as you might expect.
User @420doggface208, otherwise known as Nathan Apodaca, posted a video of himself skateboarding down an empty street, drinking cranberry juice straight from the bottle and singing, largely to himself, Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 smash hit ‘Dreams’. Following the video, the song once again found its way into the collective conscious and has since seen a brand new light cast on Fleetwood Mac’s entire discography. It got us thinking about our own favourite covers of the band, and below, we’ve pulled ten of the best.
Fleetwood Mac are a mercurial bunch. Seemingly never happy to sit still, the band and its members go through peaks and valleys as well as varying degrees of bandmate participation. It makes it very difficult to ascertain a unique Fleetwood Mac sound beyond the very fact it is always changing and evolving. Of course, the soft-rock sunshine permeates most of their work, but that is often used as the perfect counterbalance to their darker themes. All in all, Fleetwood Mac are a band that reflects the society that generated it.
The band has managed to evade the usual pitfalls that awaited the mega-successful rock acts of the day. Drugs, divorce, ego and extreme evolution; though the band experienced all of them, like almost every rock group from the sixties and seventies, they managed to handle them better than most. In fact, they encountered most of those thematic issues within the recording of one album.
We’d argue that being able to deal with such extreme situations in the comparative salad days of their time as a unit made them incredibly robust. It also made them attainable to their audience. During the seventies, rock stars were put on such high pedestals that they achieved an almost Godlike status — Fleetwood Mac, however, proved that they were just regular folk underneath the bravado and talent.
It attached an audience to their sound, one that only grows as the years roll on, and also encouraged many bands and artists to reflect on their career with some tributes to the soft-rock giants. Below, we’ve got ten of our favourites.
Best Fleetwood Mac covers:
‘That’s All For Everyone’ – Tame Impala
One point of reflection of the band’s career for the rock genre came in 2012 when the Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac was released. It featured a host of the indie music scene’s finest artists take on some big songs from the band. However, one of our favourites was one of the lesser-known songs in the band’s arsenal, ‘That’s All For Everyone.’
Taken from their 1979 album Tusk, the song is performed expertly here by the mercurial talent of Kevin Parker and Tame Impala. It’s a naturally woozy and psyche-tinged take on the track, but it somehow feels incredibly close to the original. Acoustic guitars are dropped for modulating synths, and the song is truly put through a modern lens. Yet, it still lands with the exact oomph it did in 1979.
‘Landslide’ – The Smashing Pumpkins
When we think back to Smashing Pumpkins’ legacy in rock, it will chiefly fall upon the noise rock, alternative sound that made them one of the brightest stars of the ’90s. But their cover of the Stevie Nicks-penned song ‘Landslide’ will always show their pure intent. The track, which the Smashing Pumpkins picked up to cover in 1994 remains one of rock music’s most beautiful songs.
Its ambiguous meaning leads it to be one of the more intelligent love songs you’ll hear. At its essence, it is a firm declaration of Stevie Nicks’ determination to make it as a pop star, and any idea of its ‘love song’ status would put Nicks in both roles. In an online chat with her fans in 1998, Stevie Nicks shared her thoughts on the track from the rock upstarts. She quickly connected the dots and shared that even Billy had contacted her about the song. She said, “There’s nothing more pleasing to a songwriter than [someone else] doing one of their songs. [‘Landslide’] also led me to being friends with Billy [Corgan] and the possibility that we’ll work together,” she told SonicNet in 1998.
Adding: “Over this song, there’s been this incredible connection…he reached out…I believe that my poetry is really meant for everyone, no matter what age.”
‘Rhiannon’ – Best Coast
There are not many songs to contend with, but we’ll bet that this is the best song ever written about a Welsh folkloric witch. Best Coast surely recognised that fact too. Initially written by Stevie Nicks, before she learned of the Welsh folklore, the song is an expert exploration of Nicks’ inner creativity. Nicks told Mojo magazine December 2013: “It wasn’t until 1978 that I found out about (Welsh medieval prose tales) Mabinogion and that Branwen and Rhiannon are in there too, and that Rhiannon wasn’t a witch at all; she was a mythological queen. But my story was definitely written about a celestial being, I didn’t know who Rhiannon was, exactly, but I knew she was not of this world.”
Best Coast, the indie duo capable of making your heart melt on the spot, took on the track as part of Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac and deliver a show-stopping moment.
‘The Chain’ – Florence + The Machine
Sometimes it can be straightforward to draw the line of inspiration between two artists, and the one that resides between Stevie Nicks and Florence Welch has been strengthened with every new release. Florence + The Machine became a mega-watt indie outfit during the noughties, and Welch has never stood still since, always pushing herself creatively to find new poetry and new expressions.
It seems only fitting that Welch and her band should take on the Rumours number in their set. Perhaps the best performance of which came in 2010 and their headline-stealing performance at Glastonbury Festival. The version reads like a love letter to Fleetwood Mac and Welch’s vocal gymnastics prove that she was always a diehard fan.
‘Don’t Stop’ – Elton John
Celebrating two decades of the band’s seminal record Rumours, Mick Fleetwood decided to get the pop world to show their appreciation by recreating the album’s 11 tracks. One such megastar he managed to convince to join the tribute was Elton John.
Elton John naturally grabbed ‘Don’t Stop’, one of the kickiest moments on the album, and turned up the powerhouse pop a few notches to achieve something so infectious that it’s impossible to ignore. It’s a cover that not only pays tribute to the original, but with its extra polish, glitter and shinier sound, it fits perfectly within Elton’s back catalogue too.
‘Hold Me’ – HAIM
The three sisters in HAIM will undoubtedly all cite Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac as some of their dearest inspirations. Not only do the trio all evoke the same sunshining golden-hued sound, but vocally they continue to push themselves to the same standards the band exhibited. Their take on the 1982 song ‘Hold Me’ from Mirage is a testament to their fandom.
Naturally relying on the song’s heavy harmonies, the trio delivers a sensational cover that we’re sure would have Fleetwood Mac blushing. Updating the piano track with a bass-led groove, as well as refreshing the guitar melodies, HAIM manages to pull off the perfect blend of paying tribute to one’s heroes and still delivering a classic they can be proud of in the 21st century.
‘Gold Dust Woman’ – Hole
Courtney Love had her fair share of dealings with drugs. The Hole singer and ex-wife of Kurt Cobain, has never been shy about her battles with the drug and it seems fitting that she nad her band should take on Nicks’ ode to cocaine, ‘Gold Dust Woman.’ Written at a time when Nicks saw only the good that drug could bring — it allowed her to focus on songwriting while in the studio — the track remains one of the best songs ever written about drugs.
Hole’s 1996 cover of the song came during their creative peak and sees a rather eerie take on the tune. Of course, there’s plenty of alt-rock grit within the cover but it largely hangs on Love’s vocals which seemingly attack the Fleetwood Mac lyrics with reckless abandon. It’s the kind of performance that not only confirms Courtney Love’s firepower but hints at her troubled life too.
‘Black Magic Woman’ – Santana
One of the most famous covers on our list, the famed guitarist Carlos Santana took on one of Peter Green’s finest tunes, ‘Black Magic Woman’, shortly after it was released. Barely a year had passed by when the classic Santana line-up turned the song on its head and kicked up the volume.
“I swear to you, and this for real, whenever we play ‘Black Magic Woman,’ I remember the first time we played it in a soundcheck in Fresno in a parking lot,” guitarist Carlos Santana told Rolling Stone in 2019. “Gregg Rolie brought the song from Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green. And I remember saying, ‘Hmm, I can bring a little bit of Otis Rush here and a little bit of Wes Montgomery here.’ Because I just think like that. It’s kind of like a chef, bring a little bit of oregano and jalapenos and garlic and onions.”
It’s a recipe for success, by all accounts.
‘Go Your Own Way’ – The Cranberries
One of Fleetwood Mac’s most famous songs, ‘Go Your Own Way’ sees Lindsey Buckingham take up at his former girlfriend Stevie Nicks and lambast the deterioration of their relationship. Not only that, but he asked her to sing on it too. For that reason alone it could have gone down in history but the fact it manages to capture all of those tumultuous feelings of breaking up and wrap them in a pure rock sound means it will always be regarded as one of their best songs.
It’s a song that has been covered relentlessly over the year but the best version of the song that we’ve found has to be The Cranberries rendition of the track. Of course, much of why we love this cover is because of the late, great Dolores O’Riordan’s impeccable vocals. There are gentle whispering moments and soft trills that show her grace when performing and also provide the perfect counterpoint for when she belts out her notes.
It’s the kind of performance that can leave you open-mouthed and bereft of the next word. It’s one of the best covers we’ve heard of the song and it deserves recognition.
‘Songbird’ – Eva Cassidy
Sometimes songs transcend the original creator and can land at the feet of someone who has merely covered the song. For example, Johnny Cash’s version of Nine Inch Nails song ‘Hurt’ or Jimi Hendrix’s mind-altering rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’. The same can be said for Eva Cassidy’s cover of ‘Songbird’ from the band’s 1977 record Rumours.
The American singer’s version of the song is perhaps the definitive. Though the track lands as a soft and welcomed refrain within the original album, under Cassidy’s wing, the track transcends to a higher plane. No doubt imbued with a sense of loss and longing thanks to Cassidy’s tragic passing from melanoma, the song was included on her 1998 posthumous collection Songbird. It’s a luscious and truly captivating cover and one that sings the praises of all involved.