Lex Neon on Lindsey Buckingham

Lindsey Buckingham is one of the few heroes I have.

I just recently had some discussion with my new friend Marc about Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac, and their classic album Rumours. He told me that he liked Fleetwood Mac because of Lindsey’s guitar work, and still likes his solo work.  There wasn’t much that I could respond with, without sounding like Marc’s echo.  I understand because I feel the same way.

That’s not to say that Fleetwood Mac didn’t have other talented and creative people in the band.  Royal (the Poppermost bassist / engineer / electronics “MacGuyver”) loves Stevie Nicks.  I have had an open crush on Christine McVie since I first saw her on the cover of Rumours way back in ’77.  The rock steady combo of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood has driven and weathered the band changes since ’67.  They’re phenomenal.

Back in ’77, it seemed as though great music filled the Los Angeles FM airwaves 24 hours a day.  My station of choice was 94.7 KMET, aka “the Mighty Met of Southern California.”  It’s where I first heard “Go Your Own Way,” or at least the last 30 seconds of it.  The guitar solo stopped me in my tracks and glued my ears to the stereo speaker.  Like an accurate toss by a skilled knife thrower, the solo was staggeringly sharp and made a deep and immediate impact on my young musical brain.  And I cursed the disc jockey for not “back announcing” the song.  Through the courtesy of Top 40 AM radio, I found out that it was Fleetwood Mac.

Once I found out that it was Fleetwood Mac, I remembered the guitarist’s face.  I’d seen him on “The Midnight Special” the previous year; he had a lion’s mane for hair, a beard like an old wise man, a flowing white satin shirt and a white Gibson guitar.  Once it all clicked, I had my objective for the month – get some Fleetwood Mac into my tiny collection of records.  After a month of waiting, my mom finally drove the family to Sears department store.  Of course, I begged until she had had enough of my whining.  I was the proud owner of my first copy of Rumours.

Lindsey’s creative magic is all over that particular album.  Not only is he a fine singer and excellent guitarist / arranger, his writing efforts on that album were my favorites.  “Second Hand News” sounded fresh and exciting on my first listen – it didn’t sound like anything I’d heard up till that point.  “Never Going Back” was the song that showed me the difference between someone who “plays the guitar” and a “guitarist.”  His guitar work on other Rumours songs, like “The Chain,” “You Make Loving Fun,” and “Don’t Stop” would be some of the first pieces I worked out on my first acoustic guitar.

Over the years, I would have 5 vinyl copies and 3 CD copies of Rumours. It was my first favorite non-Beatles album.  As a teen, I practiced to the songs and copied Lindsey’s solos note for note.  In my 20s, the songs on the album became my barometer after my first failed relationships.  Today, at the tail end of my 30s, it remains one of my top 3 albums of all time.

Lindsey has always been determined to avoid falling into repeating the same musical patterns.  His work on Tusk is definitely not Rumours, and it’s where I go when I’m stuck for inspiration (try “What Make You Think You’re The One” on for size sometime).  His solo single “Holiday Road” is easily one of the most overlooked songs of his musical canon.  His first solo album Law and Order (another loan from Harriet’s personal musical library) was fun and experimental, and I love the quirky sound of it.  You’ve probably heard the “big” single from it, called “Trouble.”  Try wrapping your musical brain around “That’s How We Do It In L.A.”

Last year, I got to see Lindsey live at a venue called The Joint, located inside of Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel.  His 5 piece band, there to promote 2006’s Under the Skin, pulled out tunes from his other solo albums Go Insane and Out Of The Cradle (another one of my favorite records of all time).  Of course, he and the band performed some of his most famous Mac tracks for the crowd.  I only wished that he would have performed something from the Buckingham Nicks album from ’73.  But that’s okay – he performed one his favorite Stones tunes from their mid 60s heyday called “I Am Waiting.”

Very few truly class acts make their way here to Las Vegas, weave their musical spell for a night and move on.  I don’t have very many heroes from my childhood that are still walking the earth. Because of the band and “this business of music,” I rarely get out of the studio.  But as long as I have breath in my lungs, I’ll make my way down to see Lindsey and support one hero who’s creativity dared me to dream my way out of South Central Los Angeles and aspire to “catch ears, one song at a time.”

This October 3, I’d like to send birthday wishes and thanks to Lindsey.  You’ll never know how much I love you, your music and creativity, and your chutzpah for never staying on the same musical path.  You give me strength, and I thank you.

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com/)

Currently listening :
Out of the Cradle
By Lindsey Buckingham
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~ by Poppermost on October 7, 2008.

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