Mick Fleetwood picks his 8 favourite Fleetwood Mac songs
Mick Fleetwood is one of the most celebrated drummers of all time, a musician who is the glue that has kept Fleetwood Mac ticking for over 50 years. There isn’t much that Fleetwood hasn’t done and there is a reason why he is seen as being such an integral figure in the world of music.
Everyone undoubtedly has a different opinion on what the best Fleetwood Mac track is but there are very few people who are more qualified to speak on the topic than Mick Fleetwood himself. The drummer is one of only two omnipresent alongside John McVie in the plethora of different line-up’s the band have had over the last half a century.
With a repertoire like Fleetwood Mac’s, it is an almost impossible task to pick out just one track and the drummer was unable to narrow it down to less than eight when asked by Music Radar. We are going to take a look through these eight delights from various stages from the iconic band’s career that saw them go from session musicians starting out on their own in 1967 to Grammy-award winning global juggernauts.
Mick Fleetwood’s 8 favourite Fleetwood Mac songs:
‘Love That Burns’ (1968)
Fleetwood’s first choice comes from the Peter Green era of the band from their sophomore effort Mr Wonderful in 1968 which is a world away from the type of music that would appear on their seminal Rumours album but it’s an incredible piece of music nonetheless.
“Peter Green. Fleetwood Mac. This is probably, almost, my favourite song. It kills me. Peter kills me. He was my friend, remains a friend, and he started Fleetwood Mac with me in 1967,” he said.
“This is me in my full-on training ground. This is the essence of playing Oh Daddy, the essence of what I was able to get out of playing a form of music that allowed me, as a young chap, to express myself so thoroughly, not only vicariously through Peter – because I loved his playing so much – but when I was privileged to be playing behind somebody so talented. When I hear this, it’s all about a young chap, me, knowing why Peter was so overjoyed to be playing the music that he loved so much,” he continued.
‘Go Your Own Way’ (1977)
The second choice from the drummer comes almost a decade later from the Rumours era of the band following Peter Green’s departure and the start of their global dominance. ‘Go Your Own Way’ is probably Fleetwood Mac’s most well-known number and one that simply couldn’t be left off Fleetwood’s list.
“Lindsey walked in with a demo, in his wonderfully ordered fashion from the days when he’d just joined Fleetwood Mac until he realised that John and I played in a certain way,” remembered Fleetwood when recalling his favourite songs, “which was compliant to the structures and aspirations of a songwriter.”
“I love playing this song. It’s one of my favourites because I get to kick the hell out of my drums, and it’s got that wonderfully primal part. It’s a great ‘let loose’ stage song, in which I can revert to my old animal ways and not be quite so polite. Lindsey is a full-on rock ‘n’ roller on this song, and that I love.”
‘Rattlesnake Shake’ (1969)
Fleetwood then returns back to the Peter Green period for his next choice, the excellent ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ is easily the standout moment of 1969’s Then Play On and is fully deserving of its place on this esteemed handpicked list. “On this song, you hear structure, yes, but you also hear me being incredibly free to break into the shuffle at the end, which was not supposed to happen, but it did and we went, ‘Oh my God, we really like that.’ I really loved that because it was my way of participating in creating the character of the song,” he says.
Adding: “It incorporated the freedom to go off on a tangent, to jam – the classic ‘Do you jam, dude?’ We learned that as players. You hear that alive and well in the double-time structure that I put in at the end, which on stage could last half an hour. It was our way of being in The Grateful Dead.”
‘Walk a Thin Line’ (1979)
‘Walk a Thin Line’ is one of Lindsey Buckingham’s finest moments from 1979 effort Tusk, a project which saw the band boldly deviate away from the sound of Rumours which had gifted them such rich successes and was a testament to the group that they shied away from the easy road.
“This is a Lindsey Buckingham album, written for the Tusk album,” recalled Mick Fleetwood. “I redid it this for The Visitor, the album I recorded in Africa, and the reason I did so was because I really loved the song and wished that I’d written it. I approached it with a whole ensemble of African musicians, so as a percussion player, during these recordings, I was, as we say in England, ‘like a pig in shit.’ I had the greatest time playing with these musicians on this rendition of this particular song.”
“George Harrison was my ex-brother-in-law, so when I came back to England, he put some beautiful slide guitar on the track for me. I adore him and his music, and he is sorely missed.”
The list wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of ‘Dreams’, the track remains Fleetwood Mac’s only song to top the Billboard chart in the States and embodies everything great about Rumours. This track played a pivotal role in the band becoming the household name they are today.
“Dreams is a given,” Fleetwood says. “I think it’s the most famous song that Stevie ever wrote. The intro, I think is one of those stupidly simple things that came from the drummer who played with Al Green and The Staple Singers, so it’s from my love of what I call ‘greasy music.’ It has a real feel, and it’s lazy, behind the beat – stupidly simple but well-thought-out.”
“The tempo of the song, I’ve been finding out, is something that really appeals to drummers, so I take that as a compliment. It’s something I took from great players who I love so much: Keep it greasy and stay in the slot. Gotta be in the slot!”
‘Oh Daddy’ (1977)
Christine McVie wrote ‘Oh Daddy’ for Fleetwood, even if he didn’t know it initially. At the time, Fleetwood was the only father of the band, with two daughters, therefore, the Rumours track holds a real poignancy for the drummer. “I’m a sucker for this one because it really is a structured song, which is so appealing to me as a player,” Fleetwood explained. “Basically, it’s me playing a slow blues with Christine.”
“Sentimentally I say this because I didn’t know it at the time, but I found out not too long afterwards, that the song was actually written about me. At that point, I was the only daddy in the ranks of Fleetwood Mac. Christine is a sister of mine and truly a great musician – and a blues player.”
‘Oh Well’ (1969)
The drumming maestro returns yet again to the halcyon days of the Peter Green era when the band’s dynamic was a lot more straightforward and they didn’t have to deal with the pressures that came with being one of the biggest bands in the world. “It’s two minutes of madness that I love. It’s a stop-and-start song, and to this day I get the heebie-jeebies thinking that I’m going to mess it up – which is good because that’s the child in me.”
Fleetwood added: “The structures that I was able to put together make it something that is very unique. It’s become a real staple of the diet, way more so than I ever realised with our contemporaries and the best of the best – they’re absolutely fascinated with this song.”
The final track is the titular number from Tusk, which encapsulated the decadence of Fleetwood Mac during this time — ‘Tusk’ is pure unadulterated chaos which feels like the polar opposite of Rumours which is perfect because of its imperfections.
Speaking about the track, he said: “This is Mick Fleetwood gone AWOL. I really enjoyed working with Lindsey, who put the structure down. The song had basically been discarded during the Tusk sessions, and no one knew what to do with it. We’d made this jam song. The crazy jungle beat is very much a Mick staple diet.
“The song came back to life, on the face of it, from an asinine idea I got when I was on holiday in France. There was a brass band walking around the village, and I came back and said, ‘We need to put the USC Marching Band on this,’ and everybody thought I was crazy. Of course, we did it, and it’s become one of the classic Fleetwood Mac songs in concert.