Every music lover has lists. One that I’ve revisited over the years has been the Most Overrated Albums. For years, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours found itself on that list. The Danny Kirwin era of Fleetwood Mac was probably my favorite (who can argue with “Jewel-eyed Judy?”) and the Buckingham/Nicks era my least. There is a lightness or breeziness once Buckingham and Nicks arrived that can be a bit off-putting. Besides, I was never a fan of Stevie Nicks’s voice. The lore of Rumours coming out of dissolving romantic relationships within the band didn’t seem a compelling background. With multiple staples of classic rock radio, it was easy for me to blow Rumours off as “boomer” music. In 1970, they played shows with Wishbone Ash and Jethro Tull. By 1977-78, they had the likes of Pablo Cruise and Firefall opening for them. There were so many easy reasons to dismiss this era of the band.
Maybe fifteen years ago, I was comparing overrated records lists with a friend. While I thought my inclusion of Rumours was a slam dunk, my friend, among others, disagreed (which is partly why it felt like such a great idea in the first place). In fact, I was so sure that I nailed this one that I had the confidence to give the record a fresh listen.
It was as if I had never heard it before. It was the most delicious plate of crow I’d ever eaten. Yes, there is a breeze rock element to it, but the songwriting and recording show incredible skill in their craft. The breakup theme that runs throughout turns out to be very rich, not so much in the story itself (which is not all that relatable), but in the music that tension produces. The way the three vocalists play out over the record is brilliant (yes, even Stevie Nicks) and Lindsey Buckingham is actually one of my favorite guitarists. Who knew? Everyone but me, apparently.
Years later, that same friend passed on his old set of Bose headphones to me. I tested them out on Rumours. It went from a record that I hated to a record that I used to fully appreciate a really great set of headphones. These days, I save my Fleetwood Mac venom for the stinkers with Bob Welch and, to prove I am no less a contrarian than before, the also-ran of 60’s blues heroes, Peter Green.
Maybe I should start a new list: Bands I Mistakenly Disliked.
“Personal Stories” is a series of posts about artists, albums, concerts, and other experiences that permanently changed our relationships with music.