By Madisen Gummer
No other band is as timeless and enduring as Fleetwood Mac. Everyone knows songs like “Rhiannon” and “Dreams,” popular when first released and still ringing in the ears of generations later. Through their numerous lineups, in-band drama, drugs, you name it, they have persisted with grace, and the impact this band has had on the music industry is undeniable.
However, from the days when they were a British blues trio headed by Peter Green, to the lineup more recognized now fronted by Stevie Nicks, they have a bunch of hidden gems that are rarely commemorated. They have an unimaginable number of these considering their discography has stretched over 50 years.
The following songs are deep cuts that were never released as singles and songs that you never hear them play live anymore. These works of art will no doubt expand your appreciation for the brevity of Fleetwood Mac’s influence and heighten your love for their music.
1. “Planets of the Universe – Demo”: Off of the Super Deluxe version of Rumors, re-released in 2004, this evocative and unnerving track explores the rubble that is left after a vehement love. It is solely Nicks and her piano, talking to the recording technician before she begins and after she finishes playing. Hearing her speaking voice adds a raw and intimate quality to the experience of listening, like you are right there in the studio with her as she unearths this masterpiece.
The crescendo after she sings “I will live alone” at two minutes and 45 seconds, right before she goes into the piano interlude, is one that stings the heart and haunts you for long after the song has ended. Although Nicks later released a different version on one of her solo albums, this rendition remains favorable, and earns itself as one of their most powerful hidden gems.
2. “Hypnotized”: Hailing from the days of pre- Stevie Nicks-Fleetwood Mac, I’m surprised this song is not more popular than it is. It is what I imagine the end of a crazy, hot summer day in the early ‘70’s sounded like (coming from a gen z perspective, that is). “Seems like a dream/ They got me hypnotized” is sung in harmony over a meandering funky beat.
Written by Bob Welch, off of the album Mystery to Me (1973), this track explores his fascination with the supernatural. With themes of unearthliness, mysticism and the metaphysical; it is an anthem of its own, and epitomizes the underground days of Fleetwood Mac in the late ‘60s/ early ‘70s.
3. “Storms”: Reigning from their album Tusk (1979), which was Lindsey Buckingham’s attempt at a more punk rock album, this track adventures down a gentle reflection into one’s self destructive powers in relationships, and regret. Nicks’ voice is unrestrained and authentic as she sings “but never ever been a blue calm sea/ I have always been a storm” and conveys an emotion that leads one down a path of their own reflection, and inevitably crying in their car on the way home from school (journalist’s note: guilty).
Exploring the multifaceted powers of a storm, Nicks’s songwriting, again, combined with her voice and charm, makes this song one that has yet to see its glory days, but will shine bright nonetheless.
4. “Tango in the Night”: This title track opens up with the signature experimental harp sounds of this album (1987) and leads into the image of a beach landscape at night. The simple bass line leading up to Buckingham’s voice echoing over the intense guitar sounds is what sells this song as one of their greatest rarities.
This song is unique because it features a bunch of simplicities that, when calculated together, create something very intricate. The lyrics (written by Buckingham) the succession of each instrument and voice, and the beat all add up to be an event one wishes they could see live, but never will.
5. “Murrow Turning over in His Grave”: From their latest album Say You Will (2003), this song is Buckingham’s expression that the media is no longer an industry of integrity. Through adventurous manipulation of voice and bleary guitars, Fleetwood Mac crafts an ingenuous work both musically and lyrically. Verses like “All the saints and sinners/ They pay handsomely” and “Cause being guilty is just good business” create tinges of anger and irony perfect for coding criticism. The image of Edward R. Murrow, a journalist in the ‘40’s – ‘60’s who’s main principle was honesty, used for social criticism plus the experimental style of this song is what makes it an extraordinary deep cut.
Books and books could be written about each one of Fleetwood Mac’s songs, but I do not have space for books and books, so here is the last half of the top 10:
6. “Straight Back”: written by Nicks, from Mirage (1982)
7. “Mystified”: written by McVie, from Tango in the Night (1987)
8. “World Turning”: written by Buckingham and McVie, from Fleetwood Mac (1975)
9. “If You Were My Love- Outtake”: Written by Nicks, from Mirage Deluxe edition (2016)
10. “Behind the Mask”: written by McVie, from Behind the Mask
I have compiled all of these songs into a playlist on spotify for easy access, plus a few more deep cuts that definitely deserve a listen. Click here or the link below to find your new favorite Fleetwood Mac song.
Featured image by Madisen Gummer.