No more earthly tomorrows for Fleetwood Mac’s talented Christine McVie

Obit Christine McVie
Christine McVie from the band Fleetwood Mac performs at Madison Square Garden in New York on Oct. 6, 2014. McVie, the soulful British musician who sang lead on many of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits, has died at 79. The band announced her death on social media Wednesday. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

No more earthly tomorrows for Fleetwood Mac’s talented Christine McVie

It is with a real pang of sorrow that those of us of a certain age greet the news of the death of Christine McVie, songwriter and keyboardist for the band Fleetwood Mac.

McVie was, of course, less flamboyant, less exotic, and less blessed with a uniquely memorable voice than her bandmate, Stevie Nicks. What McVie had instead was a feel for the conventional ballad and for tighter musical arrangements that kept Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and sometimes Mick Fleetwood from spinning too far out of orbit. Or, to change metaphors, if those three were jibs and spinnakers, McVie and her onetime husband John were the necessary ballast.


Perhaps it’s not so apparent in retrospect, but the five-person ensemble was so new, different, and infectiously listenable that it made the new iteration of Fleetwood Mac in the mid-1970s (as opposed to the early, all-male, heavy-British-blues-rock original band) announce itself as a stupendous revelation, a musical leap into uncharted territory. Uncharted, that is, except that it regularly “hit the charts” with songs that remained afloat for weeks and even years. (Nicks’s “Landslide,” for example, stayed on the charts for 20 weeks a full 23 years after its first release.)

And five of the band’s top eight songs in terms of chart longevity were written by Christine McVie.

I can’t imagine anyone who was a teenager or a college student in the late 1970s who doesn’t associate one or several Fleetwood Mac songs with particular places, events, or people — and in particularly poignant ways. Take the unmatchable 1977 Rumours album and add to it “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” and “Say You Love Me” from the 1975 album, and, together, there’s enough angst and sweet heartache (only Fleetwood Mac could make heartache so sweet) for a lifetime full of premature nostalgia.

And thanks to McVie, if Fleetwood Mac could make nostalgia premature, it also could uniquely create a song that, 45 years later, continues to make us, fresh-faced as teenagers, refuse to stop thinking about tomorrow. But McVie was wrong: In all the best ways, the ways we do want to remember, yesterday’s not gone. Not as long as we can listen to her music.


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