Being a part of one of the greatest bands of the 1970s, and beyond, means your value is always equated with said group. When the band just so happens t be Fleetwood Mac, a group that defied the sensibilities of their bandmates to both implode, explode, heal and return to the stage on a seemingly endless cycle, that value is mixed up with a heap of stories that don’t concern your talent. It’s a notion that has plagued the career of Christine McVie.
One of the almost-original members of the band, McVie and her ex-husband John would operate as one of the band’s songwriting partnerships across the studio from Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. However, to even categorise Christine as part of a partnership is to do her a disservice — she has delivered some of the band’s most widely cherished songs.
The band have gone through a comic strip of revolving characters as bandmates. Peter Greene, Bob Welch, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mike Campbell, and Neil Finn, plus lesser-known talents like Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Billy Burnett, and Rick Vito are all just members who have picked up the guitar or the mic for the group. Add to those names, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, two of the group’s original members, are you have a serious list of musical talent. But through all the changeovers, there’s still only been a sole keyboard player in the band’s entire story: Christine McVie.
Christine married John McVie in 1968 and would help him in the composition of the band’s 1968 record. McVie would not officially join the band until after the release of their fourth studio album, Kiln House, in 1970. For the next five albums, McVie would act as keyboardist along with taking on co-lead vocalist duties. Her vocals were often the highlights of this particular era, but it wasn’t until the arrival of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham that McVie’s songwriting began to match her musical talents.
Below, we’ve got some of her best songs for Fleetwood Mac as a reminder of her incredible songwriting skill.
Christine McVie’s best songs for Fleetwood Mac:
One of the most uplifting numbers on the band’s most famous record Rumours, Christine McVie turns the idea of moving on and getting on with your life (assumingly after a divorce?) into an undeniable toe-tapper. For a while, John McVie didn’t [pick up the references to their relationship within the song: “I never put that together. I’ve been playing it for years and it wasn’t until somebody told me, ‘Chris wrote that about you.’ Oh really?”
Built on Fleetwood’s driving percussion and McVie’s bar-pleasing piano the track is a kaleidoscopic view of the future we can all get behind. It’s also one of those songs that quietly confirms just how brilliant Fleetwood Mac are as a band.
‘Say You Love Me’
By 1975, Fleetwood Mac had already begun to perfect the inner-band argument as they transitioned from a blue and rock band to a more pop-orientated outfit. McVie obviously absorbed her bandmates’ predilections towards pop on Fleetwood Mac, also known as the world’s second most famous White Album, contributing the band’s biggest hit to that point – along with Nick’s previous single ‘Rhiannon’ – the buoyant and jubilant ‘Say You Love Me’.
Grounded by her signature piano playing, McVie steps into the spotlight with a finely crafted love song that featured the catchiest melody she had in her songbook at the time. Backed by the group’s new secret weapon, the harmonies between the three singers, ‘Say You Love Me’ did as much to push the Mac headfirst into the mainstream as any Buckingham or Nicks track did.
In a brief reprieve from the slew of break-up beefs, backstabbing’s and let’s be friends again odes, the band’s fans could focus on a simple stirring song that stands as a eulogy to the band’s sticksmith and guiding hand in the storm, Mick Fleetwood.
Amidst the whirlwind turmoil of Rumours, Mick was a steadying influence and the very fact that despite everything this record exists is a testimony, not just to the strength of the five musicians in question, the defiant belligerence of art or the power of the album itself, but seemingly the wild yet nevertheless good-hearted glue of the groups guiding ‘Daddy’, Mick Fleetwood.
Christine McVie wrote the song during her divorce John, about the calming influence of Mick. It says a lot about the band, at that period, the self-professed out-of-control partier was the group’s steady head.
‘Think About Me’
Some of these songs sat proudly on Fleetwood Mac‘s greatest albums but were never given the full spectrum of the public sphere to be heralded as they deserved. However, ‘Think About Me’ was a song that confirmed the band were still a cultural behemoth.
Buckingham plays guitar lines with audible growl and muscle, and McVie punks away at her piano with a liveliness that shows her early rock and roll influences. The way ‘Thin About Me’ contrasts Tusk‘s more experimental leanings is a great reminder of how the band’s dynamic influences their expert mixing of styles.
A simply gorgeous track is next up from Christine McVie as she delicately sings about her love for another. The awkward moment of comes when you remember that she was singing this about a man other than her recently divorced husband, who just so happens to be playing bass across from you.
McVie avoids being too sloppy, and instead, nails the juxtaposing feeling of the loneliness of love. It’s another moment on which we get to see behind the curtain of Fleetwood Mac. It not only provides McVie with one of the most crystalline moments on the entire album, as she speaks of the sacrifice of true love but also united the group.
McVie often notes this tune as the track that kept the entire band together.
‘You Making Loving Fun’
An unstoppably infectious groove from the band’s rhythm section is only trumped by Buckingham’s expert use of the guitar on this bouncing piece of McVie gold. It’s a mark of the band’s undying best quality—their converging talents go together with sumptuous ease.
The track represents some of McVie’s finest work, which, considering she assumed her songwriting days were over, is quite some feat. “I thought I was drying up,” McVie told Q. “I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day in Sausalito, I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that.”
Songs like this are what made Rumours a huge commercial success. Though not the most famous song on the LP, far from it, in fact, the track is still a robust, romantic and altogether pulsating encounter that can transport you from your stereo to a brand new plain.
The 1980s proved to be the sonic death for many of the bands who triumphed in the 1970s. Not only was there a brand new instrument on the scene with synthesizers suddenly reigning supreme but there was a propensity for shedding the skin of the previous decade. Fleetwood Mac were one of the few bands able to make this transition well.
In anyone else’s hands, ‘Little Lies’ would be too sweet to handle. However, because McVie always let the quality of the song shine through the more dated production and instrumentation of any given period she found herself in, her songs were immune to the 1980s-afflicted pop-rock that took over most bands. ‘Little Lies’ showed how McVie could flourish in any era.