By Sarah McLean, Feb 10 2016 03:00PM
When I was in high school I forced myself to like Fleetwood Mac. Let me explain. It was the 1990s and Behind the Music was constantly churning out new episodes on VH1. I loved every minuted of every episode. And because of my love for music, especially classic rock, I felt like I should like Fleetwood Mac. Why hadn’t I heard of these people before? What rock (no pun intended) had they been hiding under for so many years?! And to answer those two questions: Because I’m an idiot and Turns out a very large one that I had tripped over many, many times, respectively.
Yet somehow they had escaped my radar. I knew if they were worthy of a Behind the Music special that I should be a fan. There must be something about them that makes it worth telling their story. Turns out there was. Oh, how there was. And much like my love for The Beatles, I stepped into the deep end and never got out alive.
Through that trusty BMG record club I ordered their reunion album, The Dance, which had just been released, and the reason they were back in the public eye (and thanks to Bill Clinton for using “Don’t Stop” as his presidential campaign song). In my haste to quickly acquire anything Fleetwood Mac, turns out what arrived in the mail was The Chain - a 4 CD set of some of their biggest and lesser known hits, spanning back to the Peter Green days. What a happy accident.
I devoured every song. I must admit, initially, I wasn’t a fan of the original, bluesy Fleetwood Mac (probably because my introduction was through their pop songs) but as I got older I found an appreciation for it. I became obsessed with the Mac Attack. I was jealous when a girl on my basketball team came to practice wearing a concert t-shirt from The Dance tour. “Why hadn’t I known about all this sooner!” I mentally screamed to myself. I pestered her with questions about the concert. Stating the obvious: it was great.
Dammit! Never again will I miss out on them! And, like with my few musical obsessions, I don’t. They are one of the few bands I will pay to see, at least once, every time they tour. Luckily I’ve always lived in, or very close to, a major city so I know they will always be making a stop in my area. For those that have seen them live, you know what I’m talking about. For those that don't, what rock are you living runder? It truly is an obsession.
The reason I say all this is because tonight I attended the Fleetwood Mac Fest at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. It’s a benefit “festival” to raise money for a charity (this time, Sweet Relief & The Sweet Stuff, which provides financial assistance to career musicians struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems). The festival aspect is because famous, not-as-famous, indie musicians, and actors who are also musical pay tribute to the band they love by covering their songs in a night of celebration.
Usually I’m skeptical about other musicians covering (butchering) the classic songs of the bands I’m obsessed with, but I gotta say, I heard some of the most amazing versions of their songs by artists I never would have known had I not gone to the fest. By far one of the best songs of the night was Noah Gundersen’s version of Little Lies, which is my favorite song from their late 80s era. And to hear a man soulfully sing the words of Christine McVie was just fantastic. There were definitely some misses in the bunch, as well as fine recreations, but I’ll consider the night a win for those few moments of amazement.
The Best Fest, have also “fested” Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson and the Rolling Stones. I love that Fleetwood Mac is in this category. I think people either underestimate or simply don’t appreciate their contributions to modern music because they are viewed as a “pop” band that made Rumours album. When the music you make affects so many people, stays with you for a lifetime, and never leaves the radio, I’d call it influential.