A Tribute to Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac

A Tribute to Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac
Graphics by Kasvi Bhatia

We were extremely saddened to hear the news of Christine McVie’s passing on Wednesday. As a vocalist and keyboardist for Fleetwood Mac for just around three decades, McVie shaped many of the group’s greatest hits. As a tribute to her life and the musical legacy she leaves behind, we put together a list of Fleetwood Mac songs that highlight her incredible influence on the band and the world as a whole.

 

“SPARE ME A LITTLE OF YOUR LOVE” 

There have been many Fleetwood Macs, and Christine McVie was a member of almost all of them. Before their 1975 reincarnation with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine and John McVie anchored an ensemble that released nine albums! Christine McVie, while not credited as a full member until 1971, was present on nearly all of them. She could bring bitterness and tenderness in equal measure, in contrast to the sometimes gruff Peter Green and Bob Welch, and the later angst of Buckingham and Nicks. "Spare Me a Little of Your Love," from Bare Trees, perfectly bridges the blues era Fleetwood Mac, while showcasing her growing confidence as a pop songwriter. She's backed up by another more restrained member of the band, guitarist Danny Kirwan who contributes a wonderful backing vocal line. She knew how to build a perfect song that showed off her bandmates just as much as her. I think this song is the most obvious predecessor to her opus, "Don't Stop."

- Phil Jones, Afternoon Host

“YOU MAKE LOVING FUN”

Originally inspired by an affair Christine McVie had with Fleetwood Mac’s lighting director, Curry Grant, “You Make Loving Fun” was brushed-off as a song about her dog “to avoid flare-ups” with her then-husband and bass player, John McVie. Most of the initial recording was done without Lindsey Buckingham present in the studio, so McVie’s creativity could flourish uninhibited. Buckingham later overdubbed his guitar parts, and McVie eventually recorded that spunky Honer Clavinet which gives the song its rightful flare.

This slinky and seductive hit embraces some of McVie’s biggest and brightest contributions to Fleetwood Mac. Her sturdy falsetto and heavy-handed electric keyboard playing make this classic song bounce and glow in a way that dissolves all of its listeners’ worries and frustrations. The two distinct sections of the song tell pretty different stories, though. At the beginning of “You Make Loving Fun,” true feelings are hidden, as McVie tries her hardest to play it cool and not blush. But the chorus blossoms with euphoria and remains one of the most celebratory and joyous choruses in the band’s repertoire.

- T.J. Grant, Staff Writer

“LITTLE LIES” 

“Little Lies,” the third single from Fleetwood Mac’s fourteenth studio album, Tango in the Night, came into existence through Christine McVie and her husband Eddy Quintela. It features one of McVie’s catchiest hooks and simplest lyrics, but its simplicity doesn’t take away from its effectiveness. The song reached number one for four weeks on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1987. Its dazzling production and use of electronic instruments serve McVies’ striking vocal performance well, and backing vocals done by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks create a solid foundation for McVie’s voice to rest on.

All of the best parts of late ‘80s music are embodied in this track, and it remains the band’s most current hit to date.

- T.J. Grant, Staff Writer

 

“SONGBIRD”

“Songbird” is a quintessential Fleetwood Mac song. The piano is soft and silky, Christine McVie's vocals are dazzling, and the lyrics are a deeply personal testament to unrequited love. According to Rumors co-producer Ken Calliet, McVie wrote the entire song in 30 minutes. Ken Calliet heard its dazzling chords and knew exactly how the song needed to be produced. McVie and Calliet decided to record it in an empty auditorium with just McVie, a piano, and Lindsey Buckingham on guitar. McVie recorded the song surrounded by microphones to capture the sound of the empty auditorium to emulate the feeling of being alone after a show in a concert hall.

The lyrics speak to a musician who feels entrapped by their love. McVie sings about leaving someone you still love, “And I wish you all the love in the world. But most of all, I wish it from myself.” McVie’s ex-husband and former bandmate John McVie said, “grown men would weep, I did every night," regarding the song's rather personal lyrics. “Songbird” is one of the outstanding artworks of love, loss, and longing. It testifies to the beautiful legacy Christine McVie leaves for the musicians or “songbirds” of the future

- Cate Cianci, Staff Writer

 

“JUST CRAZY LOVE”

With a cake-sampling primate pictured against the seashore on its cover, it wasn't clear what might be found on Fleetwood Mac's album Mystery to Me (1973). But once we slipped the LP onto the spindle, we were well on our way to being hypnotized. Four of the dozen songs on the record were written by Christine McVie. "Just Crazy Love” thrums with the lyric-feel and melodic rhythm which both came to be even more readily-identified with Fleetwood Mac after the arrival of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to the lineup just two years later. A feeling of urgency (both inner and outer) is not beyond Christine’s vocal reach either as she takes lead on a fifth song, by Bob Welch, titled “Just Keep Going.” And in her elegiac album-closer, “Why,” her lyric speaks heart-to-heart, then and now: “There’s no use in crying, it’s all over. But I know there’ll always be another day. Well my heart will rise up with the morning sun. And the hurt I feel will simply melt away.”

-  William B Jones from Coos County, New Hampshire (and DJ Phil's Dad)

 

“DON’T STOP”

While it’s known for being used during Bill Clinton’s political campaigns, Christine McVie’s song is anything but political, reflecting her songwriting range and perspective. Writing about her separation from John McVie, she decided to take a more positive approach. She said about the song: “‘Don't Stop’ was just a feeling. It just seemed to be a pleasant revelation to have that 'yesterday's gone.’” The song is overcome with feeling, sporting three different types of pianos/organs, tambourine, and vocals from both Lindsay Buckingham and McVie. It’s a song that followed me through life on many car rides and solo kitchen dance parties, and I have Christine McVie to thank for that. That feeling she found on this song — one of triumph, glee, and hope — carries on without her.

- Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

“EVERYWHERE”

Coming from Fleetwood Mac’s fourteenth and final studio album, Tango in the Night, “Everywhere” is one of the most recent pieces of original music that came from the group. Though it still dates back to 1987, “Everywhere” has an undeniable ability to captivate listeners of any age. The twinkling effect of the instrumentation and groovy melody that runs throughout take some credit for how catchy and danceable the song is. It’s Christine McVie, though, that elevates it into something truly powerful. Stevie Nicks comes in for the higher vocal accents, but it’s McVie that is the anchor, singing the lyrics with conviction and grace. Used in commercials, spun in record stores and incorporated into radio playlists, “Everywhere” will surely continue to be heard around. And through that, Christine McVies’s extraordinary talent will carry on, too— reaching new ears, bringing a smile to old fans, and inspiring other creatives.

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

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