It seems as though Fleetwood Mac are having a bit of a resurgence. Whether it is Stevie Nicks’ impeccable style only being trumped by her searing rock goddess talent or the fact that someone called Nathan Apadoca turned their hit ‘Dreams’ into one of the most uplifting moments of 2020 or simply, and perhaps more likely, that a new generation while on their perennial hunt for the future in the past found a band like no other — Fleetwood Mac are one of the most fashionable groups in town.
We hear the collective groan: “but, they’ve always been that!” There’s a good argument to corroborate this claim. Ever since they began in the R’n’B scene of London in the late sixties, the band have morphed and mutated to the modernity around them. In the sixties, they were fumigated rock heroes; in the seventies, their sound was bathed in a ray of golden pop sunshine; the following decade saw them kick on the dry ice machine and get glam while the nineties provided bombastic greatest hits tours. Fleetwood Mac have always put their best foot forward, and while their off-stage antics have always grabbed headlines, consistently falling apart and stitching themselves back together, it’s the group’s music that continues to stand the test of time.
When Nathan Apadoca got on TikTok one morning, riding his skateboard and swigging from a comically large bottle of cranberry juice, it was the sound of Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘Dreams’ that propelled him to stardom. Personifying the hazy chill of the band’s glory days, Apodoca re-introduced a new generation to Fleetwood Mac. But, if you’re still looking for a little guidance, we’ve got you covered as we’re bringing you the ten greatest songs of the band’s impressive back catalogue.
The earl;y days of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac may hold some sway with the band’s diehard fans, but it is hard to ignore the true beginning of Fleetwood Mac as the moment Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Christie McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood to create a band who not only had some of the most talented musicians in the rock music scene but also had the style and swagger one needs to pull it all together.
As such, much of our list does focus on their heyday in the seventies but there is more than enough to confirm ourselves as caught up in the swell of this defiant and debauched band. Below, find Fleetwood Mac’s 10 best songs of all time.
Fleetwood Mac’s best songs:
10. ‘Gold Dust Woman’
There’s no doubt that Stevie Nicks and the rest of Fleetwood Mac soon became monster cocaine snorters — Olympic champions, in fact. The group wrote most of the acclaimed album Rumours while snorting huge amounts of the drug. At this stage, before her snorting ended up burning a huge hole in her nose the size of a coin, Nicks was still enraptured by the possibilities narcotics offered her. She could keep writing all night and never find a creative stop sign.
‘Gold Dust Woman’, which featured on the aforementioned record, sees Nicks describe the suit of armour the drug provided her. The potential cocaine offered her as a songwriter seemed huge for NIcks, and this perception would almost end up costing her her life.
Initially meant to be part of Stevie Nicks’ solo album Bella Donna, this tune ended up on Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 record Mirage and has found a spot in the hearts of fans ever since. Showcasing another side to the singer’s life and feelings, ‘Gypsy’ elevates Nicks’ confessional style to greater dimensions, engulfing us into Nicks’ gypsy world.
However, following one of her dearest friends’ death, ‘Gypsy’ took a whole new significance. Being a tribute to Robin Anderson as well as a homage to Nicks’ life before the band, ‘Gypsy’ is a truly beautiful song driven by the singer’s unique vocals, painting the perfect picture of her gypsy life and friendship. A memorable tune that is — in our opinion — one of Fleetwood Mac’s best hits.
Sometimes it’s worth remembering that while Fleetwood Mac were quick to top the charts under their new stewardship of Fleetwood and Nicks, they also paid tribute to their experimental jazz-rock past and often tried to infiltrate the mainstream with avant-garde sonic structures. There’s no better showing of that than the title track from their album Tusk, which inexplicably cracked the top ten.
Fleetwood’s unusual rhythm permeates every note of the song. Without a hook or any real chorus, the track pounds its way through the layered notes and grabs us by the scruff of the neck. It sees Lindsey Buckingham exert his studio chemistry and raise the levels yet another notch.
Following one of the best selling albums of all time is a daunting prospect for any band. Having released Rumours, the follow-up LP Tusk was given a mountain to climb from the very beginning. The album was, at the time, the most expensive record ever, costing $1 million to make. It is often seen as Fleetwood Mac’s White Album as it not only filled up two LPs to the brim with weird and wacky songs, but they seemingly lacked any real connection. It meant the strange title track and ‘Sara’ are allowed to co-exist.
There’s no doubt that ‘Sara’ is the most obviously commercially viable track on the record. Written by Nicks about the band’s continuous personal problems, it is a shining moment of the band’s set ever since, always gathering up tears and smile sin equal measure.
6. ‘Silver Springs’
Some places in songs don’t sound real because they’re just too idyllically named to have any dealings with reality; it’s a place where the music of Fleetwood Mac nestles nicely. Silver Springs sounds like a town that has too much to live up to; it’s set itself up to fail in a rust heap of trading estates, and, seemingly, Stevie Nicks thought similarly when she wrote the song to “haunt” Lindsey Buckingham.
“I wrote ‘Silver Springs’ about Lindsey. And we were in Maryland somewhere driving under a freeway sign that said Silver Springs, Maryland,” she said. “And I loved the name…Silver Springs sounded like a pretty fabulous place to me. And ‘You could be my silver springs’, that’s just a whole symbolic thing of what you could have been to me.”
One of Fleetwood Mac’s first-ever hits and taken from their album The Pious Bird of Good Omen from 1968
Produced by Peter Green and released in 1968, this guitar-led track is probably one of the most famous instrumental tracks. While it doesn’t often appear on the band’s Greatest Hits compilations, there’s no other track like it. And there’s no better representation of where and how the band started and the vibrancy of inspiration they dished out to their contemporaries, with The Beatles famously riffing on the track in their latter stages.
Imitating the sounds of the sea, the light and delicate sound of Mick Fleetwood’s drum-playing lulls us into Peter Green’s tour de force other guitars join in little by little. A beautiful ballad that deserves to be recognised for the masterpiece that it is.
The track ‘Rhiannon’ remains a clear fan favourite and still features on much of the band’s ‘best of’ sets. Written for their seminal self-titled album in 1975, shortly after Nicks and her then-boyfriend Buckingham joined the band, it has to be one of the greatest pop songs ever written, the most perfect pop song, written about a witch.
Nicks was known to preface the song’s performance at their live dates with the words: “This song’s about an old Welsh witch”, and she’s true to her word. Nicks discovered the folkloric Rhiannon in the seventies through a novel called Triad by Mary Bartlet Leader. The novel revolves around a woman named Branwen, who is possessed by another wild woman named Rhiannon.
It marked Nicks out as not only a writer capable of drawing from her own experiences but of using the mythical to tell her story. It would become an essential part of Fleetwood Mac’s iconography.
The track features on the band’s self-titled 1975 album, which along with Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s introduction, looked to truly kick start the success of Fleetwood Mac. This beautifully rich and luxurious song is one of the mainstays of that success. It stands among the most performed Fleetwood Mac songs and is a pivotal moment of their live show.
The song’s emotive language and Stevie Nicks’ undeniably pure and vulnerable vocal allows the mind to wander towards this track being a love song but, in truth, the track is located in more vocational areas of the soul. It centres on a moment when Nicks, having lost her contract with Buckingham and Nicks, was truly worried that she may never achieve her dream. It is this longing that lands the song as one of Nicks’ finest.
The track is so ubiquitous with Nicks’ gorgeous and yet touchingly subtle vocal that it feels inextricable from her and her romantic past that it can feel too easily placed within the “love song” arena. The truth is that it most likely is a love song, but not as we would hope to define it.
This is an ode to Nicks’ only one true love; music.
2. ‘Go Your Own Way’
It is hard to fathom how the Lindsey Buckingham-penned arrow with Stevie Nicks’ name landed during the recording of Rumours but we do know it shot through the heart of audiences. While Fleetwood’s drumming is impeccable and the song’s subject matter is honest and raw, it is Buckingham’s incredible vocal that takes this song over the edge.
Nick was apparently very hurt by the song’s claim, “Packing up/Shacking up is all you want to do”, but even that couldn’t stop her from belting out the backing vocals on this American rock radio gold. It’s hard to ignore the power of this track, and when you hear it in the context of the album, it quickly anoints itself as the ruler of Rumours.
Though ‘Go Your Own Way’ is an undeniable bop, one could make an argument for any of the album’s songs reaching the top of the pile — that’s a testament to the sheer quality of Rumours.
Not mentioning ‘Dreams’ when talking about the songs that made Fleetwood Mac would be like forgetting the Queen of England wears a crown. The song has taken on brand new identity in recent months and is seen as one of the few happier moment of 2020. But, in truth, the track has been wowing audiences for far longer.
Its famous bassline takes us through this Stevie-Nicks-led laid-back track. “Thunder only happens when it’s raining / Players only love you when they’re playing / Say women they will come and they will go / When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know, you’ll know” sings the female icon on the famous chorus, challenging the societal norms and providing a knowing shoulder to cry on.
Originally written by Nicks when secluding herself in Sly Stone’s bedroom, this track also features on Rumours and confirms the album is sensational. The making of that album was happening during the band’s break-ups between Buckingham and Nicks, as well as Christie and John McVie’s marriage, which added a certain authenticity to the variety of broken-hearted songs on the record.
Of course, in a few years, perhaps the sheen of ‘Dreams’ will have diminished but, for now, it stands tall as Fleetwood Mac’s greatest.