Fleetwood Mac and why they are so great

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On October 14th, 2014 I was fortunate enough to see Fleetwood Mac in concert.  They were amazing and I would like to talk about how amazing they are.  Or rather why I think they are amazing.  I know some purists will say that Fleetwood Mac was a band before Lindsey and Stevie.  I like that older stuff, some of it is pretty good.  However, it is clear their popularity and musical ability greatly increased with the joining of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. On stage Christie McVie called them her musical family and as I listened I started to get a vision of that family.  They are a family who stays together despite the fact that they are all very different people.  Their strength lies in both the tensions in personality but also that musical family combination.  It is perfection for a band and few bands can claim to have such a perfect combination of personalities and talent.  I would like to speak to this perfection by talking about their musical personalities and why they fit so well together.  I’ve even given these musical personalities a name they are as follows:  The Aura, The Violet, The Craftsman, The Silence, and The House.  Perhaps you can already guess which is which.

The Aura

Both leading ladies in the bands might be described as romantics, but in very different ways.  For Stevie Nicks love and

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magic go hand-in-hand.  She is as mysterious as the moon and she is the feelings of romance that you can’t quite put into words.  You will love her and not exactly know why.  She dances, she moves, she floats, and she spins.  She is the girl you want to get close to, but not necessarily the one you should bring home to mother.  She lives in dreams and want you to live there with her. Who doesn’t love to dream? She is the theater, and who doesn’t love a good show?  You recognize that loving her might also bring peril and yet you are still drawn in.  This is why she is the aura of the band.  She envelops you and you can get lost in her.  She makes you dance to her tune, helpless, enraptured.  Her voice is as hypnotic as her beauty.  She might make you cry, make you break down, and shatter your illusions of love, but you’ll always think loving her is worth it.  And it is.

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The Violet

Beautiful like a flower and modest as a violet; this is Christie McVie.  She is the sweet girl next door.  Pretty, honest, with a heart of gold.  She is the one that grows up into that mother that knows how to take care of everyone, both physically and emotionally.  She’s never wild in public, and she doesn’t dance all that well, but when she does dance you know she’s happy and you can’t help but smile when you watch her.  She is the girl you fall in love with and feel safe.  When she sings you know, she knows the score.  Her love is nurturing, solid and tangible.  You want to be with her everywhere. You listen to her and sigh, and smile, each note on her keyboard vibrates your heart a little bit.  Listening to her songs it is the same feeling you get when you taste sweet confection or a fresh baked cookie.  She is the treat you deserve after a hard day and will always make you feel right with the world.

The Craftsman

Where Stevie draws you in, Lindsey goes out and grabs you.  Where Stevie wants you to believe in magic, Lindsey tells

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you that you need no other plane of existence than this one.  He puts you in the here, and now and says “Listen…to…me”.  His voice and guitar will make you pay attention.  He is the hammer and chisel.  He is the designer.  He is a mastermind with background vocals, providing substance and melody to each song.  Through his genius all members of the band, as amazing as they already are, are even better because of him.  He constructs and he builds, then he sands it and varnishes it, and he works harder than everyone else, even though his genius might just qualify him to sit back and tell other people what to do.  His musical brilliance comes from the deepest heart of him, and yet he has no trouble digging to that depth to reveal it all to the listener.  You love to watch him, because you never know what he’s going to make, but you know you are going to like it in the end.  He has an intensity that is unmistakable and his greatness towers over you.  He is both humbling, but at the same time you know that his music makes you better than you are too.

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The Silence

Who hears John McVie?  Everyone does, they just don’t know it.  When the others aren’t making noise, what is left?  Silence.  Like silence, John McVie is always there.  He stands in the same spot on stage, playing his bass with a stolid dedication that makes him a fixture, a landmark, an unchanging stone that all can depend on.  When there is anger and bitterness, he is playing his bass.  When there is joy and celebration, he is playing his bass.  When there is tenderness and sorrow, he is playing his bass.  When things are unfamiliar, he stands there, playing his bass.  He is that musician who will play as the Titanic goes down.  In his bass are the silent things like honor, dignity, and respect.   The silence provides solitude, peacefulness, and reflection. There at the beginning, he will be there until the end…silently playing his bass.

The House

But how would these 4 different, but amazing musical personalities ever choose to be in the same place if they didn’t

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have a house to play in?  This is Mick Fleetwood.  He is the rhythm which brings them all together.  While John is reliable like a rock, Mick is reliable like a faithful valet or butler.  You might be dying on the inside, but he is going to make sure you look presentable and that the show must go on.  He is that kind of servant where you are never quite sure if you’re in charge though, or whether he is.  He is the soul of Fleetwood Mac.  He is both the history and the one who has made history.  He is also not afraid to play the buffoon, making everyone smile and laugh, breaking the tension when it’s high.  When you walk into the house you immediately know that your stay will be a memorable one.  Despite the genius of Lindsey, somewhere in the back of your mind you’ll wonder if Mick isn’t the real genius by finding a way for all these extremely talented musicians to stay in his house.  After all, every musician knows that it’s the drums that set the pace that everyone must march to.  And they all do it willingly because they know they are better together in that house than anywhere else.  He is the reason you get to say, “I love Fleetwood Mac”.

Returning Your ticket

Let’s say you are on a big cruise ship. Over 6,000 men, women, and children are on board.  This cruise ship promises to take you to paradise and it’s not a lie either. A place where everybody is happy, nothing bad ever happens, and everybody gets along in love and friendship.  Children are laughing and smiling and running around.  Nobody

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is hungry or hurting.  Everybody lives in harmony.  There was no charge to even be one of the passengers.  You’re on for free and who wouldn’t pass up such an opportunity.

As you are making your way to paradise, the captain announces that due to some unknown structural defects that they need to get rid of about 100 passengers or the boat will sink.  Fortunately there are an equal amount of bad criminals who have done some bad things and don’t really deserve paradise on board and the captain knows who they are and asks everybody else to throw those people overboard.  Would you still want to be on that boat?  Keep in mind that by even looking the other way, you are an accessory.  But many people, I think, given the promise of such a wonderful destination they could make it work for their conscience.

Now rewind the scenario and the same announcement comes on and says we need to unload 100 passengers or we all sink, and paradise will never be reached.  It’s only 100 people and still some 6,000 people will get to go to paradise.  But everybody wants to go so nobody volunteers.  People get tense and some people start deciding for themselves who might be bad or good, who might be too old to survive the journey and thus can justify getting rid of them.   Would you still want to be on the boat?  Again doing nothing to help still makes you an accessory.  In this scenario, not that the group who stays must develop some sort of justification for why those people will have to die.  Judging them without evidence, making assumptions, perhaps developing a philosophy that gets people to volunteer, convincing the more gullible of passengers that they will get to paradise anyway by making the sacrifice (even though they don’t know that to be the case, no matter how strongly they believe it to be so).

Let’s rewind again except this time the captain announces that his good friend the Grim Reaper will be coming around and taking the lives of 100 people at random.  It

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could be your child, your friend, your wife.  Slowly everybody watches 100 people keel over without knowing why they had to die.  Would you still want to be on that boat?  If you stayed, what justification would you come up with to be okay with those deaths?

Let’s rewind one more time.  Instead of the Grim Reaper, the captain announces that everybody will be restrained while a psychopathic killer, wrought by the same person who made the paradise, will be coming around to kill 100 random people.  Having little control over his actions and lack of moral center, he will beat, rape, and torture these people before he kills them.  Many or all of these people are innocent.  Most importantly some are children. Young children, perhaps even babies.  Children in their innocence and purity must be physically and sexually abused in order to reach this paradise.  Would you still want to be on the boat?  What justification would you invent to be okay with this if you stayed?

In one the most influential books to me was The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  In that book one of the Brothers Ivan is having a conversation with his younger brother Alyosha in a chapter I believe called “Revolution”.  Ivan is an atheist and a collector of news stories around Russia of atrocities committed against children.  He questions the religious harmony that Christianity offers (I do not single out Christianity here, only relaying the religion that was used in the book).  We are all supposed to follow The Bible and follow its moral teachings.  The goal being that we will all come to know God on Earth and secure our place in Heaven afterwards.  But we are also supposedly given free will and thus some do not follow.  This allows for the possibility of great harm to innocent children: abuse, rape, torture, death (not even counting all the natural/accidental causes that take the lives of children).  Ivan claims that if this is the price of harmony then he would like to “respectfully return his ticket” to the Creator.

In reading that passage, I could not help but agree with Ivan.  Being a father now only reinforces that idea more.    If there is a Creator who is omnipotent and decides what happens to all His creation and that there is a reward of Heaven for those who are good, then I submit that this existence is simply not worth the price given all the suffering that does and has taken place already to get there.   There are of course many other atrocities that happen to adults, that make it not worth the price either, but it is especially hard when I think of the harm that comes to children.  The logic of a Creator who commands us to act according to His moral guidelines in order to achieve some post material existence paradise at the expense of harm to innocent people, simply does not add up.  It’s not enough for me to say that “God works in mysterious ways” or that “no one can know the mind of God”.  It’s not enough for me to know that God has taken the innocent up to Heaven either.  Because what is the point of this existence if they had to suffer here?  And for the life of me I really don’t understand why that can be enough of an explanation for anyone else.  I’m open to any and all explanations as to why the tears of a suffering child are worth this paradise?