"Go Your Own Way": How 'Rumours' Started Its Revolution

L-R: John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham in 1977
Photo Credit
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

It's that classic story: boy meets girl, boy and girl join popular British band, boy loses girl but both are still in the band...Lindsey Buckingham had a lot on his mind when he and his Fleetwood Mac bandmates packed into a Florida house on a break between tours in 1976.

The singer/guitarist had joined the blues-rock combo alongside his girlfriend, singer Stevie Nicks, whom he'd known for half his life and had been performing together for most of the decade. But their relationship had ended, and it was hard to talk to her without the conversation devolving into yelling. Things weren't going much better for the band's other couple, bassist John McVie and singer/keyboardist Christine - and drummer Mick Fleetwood, while not involved with anyone in the group, had just divorced his own wife. Not exactly a party atmosphere - and yet, from that turmoil, Buckingham pulled out the song that would put them all on the map.

READ MORE: April 1977: Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' Album Hits No. 1

Buckingham later described the genesis of "Go Your Own Way" as a "stream of consciousness" to the Song Exploder podcast, working with Fleetwood and McVie to augment his chugging guitar riffs with a rhythm partially inspired by The Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man." The lyrics, of course, came from his anger at the end of his relationship with the bandmate he still counted as a co-worker. "I was completely devastated when she took off," Buckingham later said. "And yet I had to make hits for her. I had to do a lot of things for her that I really didn't want to do. And yet I did them."

READ MORE: Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac: Their Highs and Lows

Nicks, for her part, vocally pushed back against one specific line in the verse ostensibly directed at her: "Packing up, shacking up's all you wanna do." "He knew it wasn't true," she later told Rolling Stone. "It was just an angry thing that he said. Every time those words would come onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him. He knew it, so he really pushed my buttons through that."

READ MORE: People Can't Stop Buying Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' on Vinyl

Button pushing aside (and that's counting the wizardry of engineer Ken Caillat in creating the bridge's iconic solo across six separate takes),  "Go Your Own Way" was the ideal introduction to what would become Fleetwood Mac's next album, 1977's Rumours. Released that Christmas, it would light up switchboards around the world and - following three Top 20 singles from their self-titled 1975 record - gave the band its first-ever Top 10 pop hit in America.

And from Rumours, there was much more truth to come.

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