Credit: Klaus Hiltscher

Fleetwood Mac perform a searing version of ‘The Chain’ live in 1979

‘The Chain’ might well be the quintessential Fleetwood Mac track. The song, which opened the second side of Rumours in the most emphatic fashion, is one that is deeply ingrained in the iconography of one of rock music’s most prolific groups. However, even though it sounds remarkable on record, this live footage of Stevie Nicks leading the band through a fiery performance in 1979 takes the song to another dimension.

Perhaps what makes this track such a poignant one is the fact that it was written by Stevie Nicks during the time when her relationship with her bandmate Lindsey Buckingham was falling apart. When the two sharing lead vocals on the track, it gave ‘The Chain’ a level of authenticity that is a rarity to find and adds a layer of rawness to the song.

Nicks may have come up with the lyrical content, but the track was truly a collaborative effort with each of the five members playing a significant role in the creation of the masterpiece. The song, because of this, is the only track that is credited to their whole line-up of 1977. It would also be the first track that Fleetwood Mac played during their concerts for many years as it represented their grit, steel and togetherness despite all the personal difficulties they had with one another. With the song’s legendary introduction, it also got the party started.

“‘The Chain’ basically came out of a jam,” Mick Fleetwood once said about the creative process behind the track. “That song was put together as distinct from someone literally sitting down and writing a song. It was very much collectively a band composition. The riff is John McVie’s contribution – a major contribution. Because that bassline is still being played on British TV in the car-racing series to this day. The Grand Prix thing.”

The song doesn’t hang on just one moment though, “But it was really something that just came out of us playing in the studio. Originally we had no words to it. And it really only became a song when Stevie wrote some.”

He continued: “She walked in one day and said, ‘I’ve written some words that might be good for that thing you were doing in the studio the other day.’ So it was put together. Lindsey arranged and made a song out of all the bits and pieces that we were putting down onto tape. And then once it was arranged and we knew what we were doing, we went in and recorded it. But it ultimately becomes a band thing anyway, because we all have so much of our own individual style, our own stamp that makes the sound of Fleetwood Mac.”

Fleetwood then added: “Because what you do, and what you feel when we’re all making music together, is what Fleetwood Mac ends up being, and that’s the stuff you hear on the albums. Whether one likes it or not, this is, after all, a combined effort from different people playing music together.”

This footage of the band performing the bona fide classic will be sure to send shivers down your spine.

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