Jeez this is almost too sloppy and sentimental to be allowed. But I just happened across a music vid and it got me thinking - how can singers or bands with monster hits even stand to ever sing them, much less sing them 4-nights a week on a 6-month tour every year for the rest of their lives?
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First go put on your little footie-pajamas, and then ask Mom to give you some chocolate milk and one of those little powdered donuts. Then come on in here and sit down on the big, comfy sofa, and let Uncle jummy tell you one of his stories about the history of rock music, and the mysteries of the human heart.
This is mostly about Fleetwood Mac. I know - Mega-group churning out pre-fab, sugar coated girlie hits in the 80's. Except they weren't always like that. British band Fleetwood Mac (named for drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie) got started around 1967, and they were sort of a bluesy groups at first, and then got a little more bluesy-jazzy-arty. They had a lot of personnel changes but some very good albums. By 1975 they were foundering and needed some fresh blood to mix with the core of Fleetwood, McVie and his wife, keyboardist Christine McVie.
In 1975 Mick Fleetwood happened to hear a song called "Frozen Love" which had a blistering guitar solo. The song was off a 1973 album by the singing/songwriitng duo of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks, who called themselves simply "Buckingham Nicks". Fleetwood was so knocked out by the guitar solo that the band asked Buckingham to join them. In one of the most decent and honorable gestures in rock music history, Buckingham said he would only join if Stevie Nicks came with him, because they were "a package deal". The band considered it, said okay, and a super group was born.
A word (okay, a lot of words) about Buckingham Nicks, the album. I first heard it in 1974, and just fell in love with it. Powerful, driving, beautiful songs, with wonderful vocals by both Buckingham and the heartbreakingly beautiful Stevie Nicks. It probably helped that the album cover was of the two of them tastefully nude and impossibly beautiful. A soft-focus shot of beautiful hair cascading over the beautiful bodies of these two unbelievably gorgeous people.
Have you ever seen a girl so beautiful, a girl you wanted so much, that you'd actually get this little ache in your chest when you saw her? Stevie Nicks did that for me, at least in those days. Just made my heart goddamn stop. Even today I'll see that album picture and get a little tickle.
But they were a lot more than a beautiful album cover. Do yourself a favor and look up just about any of the vids from Buckingham Nicks on YouTube. Crystal clear production, sharp-as-a-knife vocals and technically excellent, crisp guitar by Lindsey Buckingham, who had several precise but powerful solos on the album. A classic album that serious students of 70's music need to know.
With the the new line-up at Fleetwood Mac the world was about to change. In 1977 they released Rumours, a gigantic hit. It sold 30 millions copes, and IIRC was actually the top-selling album of all time for several years after it was released (others have since moved it down the list some).
There was one song that didn't make it onto Rumours, but somehow got radio play. It got an underground following, and became a standard part of every Fleetwood Mac tour. It was "Silver Springs", written by Stevie Nicks. Watch this performance off the 1997 tour, because it's necessary to my point. YouTube - Fleetwood Mac - "Silver Springs" Live
It's one of those you-left-but-you'll-never-forgot-me songs, maybe the song of that kind. Achingly beautiful, it has a powerful, gut-wrenching final minute or so of Stevie Nicks alternately begging and telling her lover he'll never forget her.
Now here's the kicker - Stevie wrote it about her long love affair with Lindsey Buckingham. She and ol' Lindsey apparently had taken advantage of those nude album cover shoots over the years. Best I can tell, Stevie sort of considered Buckingham her soul mate.
But it got complicated, because Lindsey took up with....Christine McVie, the band's keyboard player, and bass player John McVie's wife. Not to be outdone, Stevie then decided she'd explore love with...drummer Mick Fleetwood. The 6-foot-6 inch Fleetwood is so famously well-hung that his penis has a name - "Tusk" (Hmm. That's familiar.) I suppose tiny Stevie, who is 5-feet-1-inch, just wanted to see how much she could take. The band went one better and wrote the song "Tusk" as a celebration of Fleetwood's, well, tusk.
So this was one screwed-up band; a bunch of head cases. Everybody had slept with everybody else at least a few dozen times. Even though they tried to act all cool and open-relationship with it, there was a lot of strain from the unavoidable jealousy. Bad feelings followed. And what do incredibly successful and rich, spoiled rock stars do when they feel shitty? They turn to the Bolivian marching powder, with booze as the old stand-by.
Stevie was the worst. She had the biggest broken heart, and apparently one of the biggest noses for coke in rock. She had a lot of problems with her voice over the years, which she ascribed to nodes on her vocal chords. But snorting cocaine is notoriously hard on your nose, sinuses and throat. I'm just sayin'. Regardless of the reason, her voice today is very rough, deep and hoarse. She's a mere shadow of the singer she was in the 70's.
Anyway, I happened across the vid which I linked above, which is from a dvd of their 1997 tour, in which she sings "Silver Springs". It blew me away. It was more than 10 years ago, but I was amazed to hear her sing with such power and passion, even though she couldn't hit high notes and she was hoarse.
But what knocked me out was that she sang most of that song just zeroed in on Lindsey Buckingham. As she got farther in the song she looked at nothing else but him. She gets to the climax and she's just screaming at him that he'll never get away from her memory. And hell, he's staring back at her. And I'm thinking I'm watching some kind of human drama on stage as they actually move toward each other as the song ends. By then the hair is raised on the back of my neck. Are they gonna tear each other's clothes off right on stage? Jeez, that was powerful.
Or so I thought. I looked at a few more tapes from the 97 tour version of "Silver Springs". And it just killed me. It was just a part of their stage show. Just a goddamn pre-planned piece of fake emotion to give the rubes their money's worth. On one vid from a 1987 concert when Stevie sang it, she looked coked to the gills, or stoned on something. Color me pissed-off about the whole thing.
I shouldn't be. It's a business after all. But I bit, dammit. They got me. So instead of this story about this decades-long smoldering passion between these soulmates, I get some counterfeit-emotion crap.
And here is my point: HOW THE HELL CAN THEY STAND TO DO THAT BULLSHIT NIGHT AFTER NIGHT? How can they stand themselves for taking what had to have been a song that meant something, at least when it was written, and turn it into schtick? This little bit of kabuki, night after night after night, forever. I truly do not understand it.
So am I crying in the wilderness? I realize it's possible no one within 5000 miles of me gives a rat's ass. Is anyone bothered by this particular performance, or the kind of deal where a group is expected to do a song every show, and they have to come up with a display of a certain amount of enthusiasm about which they surely can't still feel?
Is it just I'm too wussified about this (help me, I'm actually writing about Fleetwood Mac!), or is it just I'm too effing old and thus am already screwed in the head anyway?
Dammit, wrong forum! It's late. Mods, could you move to Off-Top? Thanks.
Christ, Jum, I don't have time to read all THIS!
I didn't make it!
Well, that makes about as much sense as asking "how can you go to your boring job at the insurance agency day after day". That´s what they get their money from, it´s perhaps the only thing they know how to do and they will do it as long as they get their money from it.
Ah, but I believe that what jumjum is saying is the fact that they go on stage all the time doing a totally fake routine and playing off of the actual true meaning of it, and how well that could actually sit with them. That apparently they've grown callous to the songs intent and emotions, and are now simply in it for the money. IMO, I think this is true with most bands, and it ends up being something you have to ignore. In the end, its not about how they feel the music, its about how you feel and treat the music emotionally.
(He' always was the smartest one.) ;)
Ts4ever nailed it. I pretty much do the same thing everyday but its for the wall of my cubical (see the thread I entitled "Please Kill Me") not 20,000 adoring fans paying $150-$300 to live through that. Dont forget, you know there is alot of things in your life youve been able to grow out of, put to bed, or just able to get over. They probably have too and are able to laugh about all those crazy things they've done in their pasts even play on them... I was a drummer in a pretty awesome original band and we broke up because we couldnt really get anywhere and life was calling. One former member and I got together to put all of our material together, off of cassette or VHS and into cds and dvds. Through that process we've googled our old singer and found him in a typical douchey cover band in Tampa. I suspect he was able to put away the whole cover/original argument and just get out there, make a few bones and get some occasional strange. I wont fault him for that. I still can not, will not, not even one ounce interested in doing the same thing. I want to create music, not recreate it. Especially when I listen to some of our old stuff, it was stirring, it gripped my heart and I know I could have played those songs for the rest of my life. If only we had like 2 more years and met the right people... things may have been different. But there is no bitterness. I just know I'm not going to be joining another band for the sake of drumming, its so much more than that, and one of the few things in life I take seriously. There will be some stuff for me in the future but it will be more studio based. The rockstar thing wont happen but you can still watch your music take on some life through file sharing and comments. It will go back to what it was all supposed to be anyway, fun creativity.
But people doing their jobs ordinarily don't have to perform this elaborate fake-emotional kabuki for 40,000 people. It would seem far more satisfying to sit in front of a computer 8 hours a day and be reasonably honest with how you present yourself than to have stage some big fake-O every night. Seems it you would feel like you'd cheapened and hardened your true emotions to the point you couldn't tell the real from the fake.
Which is what it is I think has a lot to do with what makes so many rock stars (every kind of popular-culture stars) miserable enough to kill themselves. They seem to the average joe to have everything to make them happy. But at what cost?.
I'm with vM. You're own emotional investiment in song is way more important than the singers. Hell, I have memories attached to the song "Shake that ass for me" simply becuase of who I listened to it with.