How Fleetwood Mac blended tradition and technology on ‘Everywhere’

If it were up to Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac’s ’80s might have sounded simpler. “I like the traditional sound,” she said A rolling stone in 1984. “Three-part harmonies, guitar and piano. I mean, a well-played guitar is a joy forever.”

But Lindsey Buckingham had a slightly different take on much of the music the band released during the decade, especially in 1987. Tango at night, an album that featured Buckingham’s new favorite toy, the Fairlight CMI synthesizer. The shimmering sound that begins McVie’s “Everywhere,” the only song on the LP credited solely to the keyboardist, is a result of the instrument.

Buckingham also experimented with new recording techniques, sometimes playing tapes at half or double speed to create an artificial sound that could not be easily reproduced. (The intro to “Everywhere” features recordings of acoustic and electric guitars at half speed.) “That’s part of what makes this [album sound] open and airy too,” Greg Dromon, who is an engineer Tango at nightrecalled to Salon in 2017. “When you record something really slow and you speed it up, all the harmonics shift up. You end up with this high end, this little high end that wouldn’t exist [otherwise]. There’s no other way to get it, at least then.”

This desire to push the limits of the tape technique, along with the heavy use of Fairlight, had a downside, as Buckingham’s co-producer, Richard Dashute, noted. “I loved sonically what he was doing. But I started to miss the old live band feel,” he said. “I think Fairlight started to replace some of that human touch, some of the other band members. Lindsey was able to do much more on his own and control it much more artistically.”

That Buckingham controlled most of it Tango at nightThe recording of made sense because the album began life as Buckingham’s solo project. It slowly became a band record as the members got involved. Even though the group doesn’t necessarily work together much of the time, that doesn’t mean the work isn’t done. “Sometimes it’s hard to explain our relationship,” Buckingham told The Los Angeles Times in June 1987, two months after the LP was released.

“There’s a strong, almost psychic connection, but we’re not even real friends [in the sense] that we spend a lot of time together. Most of all, we are a group of people who play well together. We’re not even all in the studio at the same time. The only time we’re a real band is on stage.”

Even when it came to Buckingham taking the reins on her song, McVeigh had faith in his abilities. “It’s kind of natural leadership. He spends all his time in the studio, and frankly, someone has to,” she said. “It’s not like we’re all sitting around saying, ‘Yes, Lindsey, no, Lindsey.'” We have information. I could [veto] things he does with my songs, but he’s very good at his craft.”

Watch Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” video

McVie’s “Everywhere” is basically a love song. McVeigh had recently married her second husband, keyboardist and songwriter Eddie Quintella, who had several co-writing credits on Tango at night. On “Everywhere,” McVeigh expresses his happiness at this new chapter in his life: “You know I’m falling and I don’t know what to say.”

No one from Fleetwood Mac appeared in the video for “Everywhere”, which was released in November 1987 as the album’s fourth single. Instead, the clip is based on Alfred Noyce’s 1906 poem “The Highwayman,” which tells the story of two lovers who are dying: “Look for me in the moonlight, look at me in the moonlight / I’ll come to you in the moonlight light, though hell must bar the way!”

Eventually, McVeigh found Buckingham’s recording technique just the thing for her simple love song, she recalled in the 2019 documentary. Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird – Christine McVie the moment Buckingham showed her how the song’s intro would come together. “He slowed down the tape, really slow, and played the parts slowly,” she said. “And then when it hit the right speed, it sounded pretty damn amazing.”

Fleetwood Mac Albums Charted

It’s easy to focus on Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks when looking at a list of Fleetwood Mac albums, but the band’s legacy extends far beyond that.

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