Midweek Music Special – Songbird – Vale Christine McVie

Posted on Thu 12/01/2022 by

2


By Anton Lang ~

When you hear news that a musician has passed away, and these days, it happens perhaps a little more frequently, you’re really sad when it’s one of the musicians whose music you grew up with and loved. That’s the case now with the passing of Christine McVie, long time member of the band Fleetwood Mac. The song I have featured here today went on to become her own signature song, and that song is titled Songbird. The song was originally released on the band’s eleventh album, Rumours, and this was the second album with the new lineup which launched the band’s second huge career.

Link to Video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by slamtracer35

I started contributing Posts here at this site in March of 2008, and I concentrated on electrical power generation subjects, and other subjects closely related to that. At Christmas of that same year, my good lady and I drove the 500 miles North to spend Christmas with our daughter, and her very young daughter, and they lived at Rockhampton, and later, in mid 2010, we moved to that Central Queensland city to watch our granddaughter grow up. Now, ostensibly, this was a holiday, so the thought of my spending hours every day sitting at the computer and writing Posts would be in fact quite a rude thing to do, so, I only posted a few posts, and one of those Posts was my very first Music Post, a standalone Post which then gave me the spur for my Sunday Music Posts, which I started when I got back home in mid January of 2009.

That very first music Post I wrote while I was on that holiday was that most beautiful of Instrumentals, Albatross by the band Fleetwood Mac, a song which, to this day is one of my favourite songs of all time. I first heard that song as a 17 year old, and I was home on a short Christmas leave from the Air Force, and I had now been in the RAAF for two years. Now, while I was 17 years old, and the one who would be most likely to be interested in modern music, it was my Father who drew my attention to this beautiful piece of music, and he ‘explained’ to me the image that the music evoked to him, and he (my father) just loved the beautiful guitar work. There some further intricacies I later found out about, and while I always loved this song, I didn’t find out about those details until I wrote about it back in 2008. That Post is well worth reading just to learn about those technical details, which were quite interesting, and this is the the link to that song.

Christine McVie was a classically trained pianist, and, as Christine Perfect, (her maiden name) she was a member of the band Chicken Shack as Fleetwood Mac started their original career in 1968. That band toured on the under card for Fleetwood Mac, and she developed a relationship with John McVie. In those early days of the original Fleetwood Mac, there were five members, and Peter Green was the original one who formed the band, only to leave at the end of the third album. Christine Perfect played session keyboards in the studio for Fleetwood Mac as early on as the second album, also providing backup vocals. She did the same on the third album. As the revolving door started to revolve, Christine married John McVie, and she now became a full member of the band for their fourth album, also the first album with Bob Welch now joining the band as well. That revolving door kept moving, and at the end of the ninth album, released in late 1974, Bob Welch also left, and now there was a core of just three members, John and Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood.

The band looked like it might actually fold with the release of that album, and there were also legal problems, and to (sort of) resolve these legal issues, the thought was to move the band to the U.S. Mick Fleetwood was introduced to guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, and he asked Lindsey to join Fleetwood Mac, and he said he would, as long as his girlfriend could also join the band as well, and that was Stephanie (Stevie) Nicks.

Well, the usual phrase applies here, only this would have to be probably one time where that phrase just does not actually tell the full story ….. “The rest is history.”

The band now started a second career, and this time, that career was monumentally huge, and so much larger than their first career as a band.

Their first album together, now the band’s tenth album was self titled, (as was their first album released back in 1968) just titled as Fleetwood Mac, and sometimes referred to as The White Album. (and here, not to be confused with The Beatles White Album) The album was recorded and released in 1975, and it sold seven million copies, and produced three Top Ten Singles, and two of those were written by Christine McVie.

An album as huge as this album proved to be is sometimes difficult to follow up, and then the band produced the album Rumours, recorded in California in late 1976, and then released in early 1977. Internally the band was beset by the two relationship break ups, and Mick Fleetwood himself was in the midst of his own divorce, and there was also talk of perhaps some excessive alcohol and drug use as well. The image shows the back cover of that Rumours album, with the five band members from left, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and John McVie.

Years later, Christine said that the band always performed better when they were under stress, and for this album, every one of them was under the most severe stress imaginable. The resultant album was an instant, and monumentally huge success, selling 10 million copies within weeks. It produced four Singles which all made it inside the Top Ten, and one of those, Dreams, went to Number One, as did the album itself, almost everywhere it was released. The album has sold consistently since its release, and to date it has sold more than forty million copies, making it one of the best selling albums of all time. Mick Fleetwood said the album was the most important album that the band made, because it then allowed them to produce whatever they wanted to, and to keep recording for years to come, not relying on that future album to sell enough to enable them to keep going. Their next four albums were all million sellers, but nowhere even close to the sales of Rumours.

On that Rumours album, Christine McVie wrote four of the songs, and co wrote one other, and one of the songs she wrote is the song I have featured above, Songbird.

The recording sessions for the album were winding up, and Christine was alone in the studio, and she wrote the song sitting at the piano in the short time just before and just after Midnight. There was no one around to record the song, and she was concerned that if she left it, and went off to sleep, she might forget the structure of the song and the melody, so she stayed awake all night until someone turned up at the studio the following morning so it could be recorded. The song was so well received, that, rather than have the whole band record it, it was recorded as a solo song with Just Christine singing it and playing the piano on her own.

This one song has become her signature song over the years, and at nearly all the band’s live concerts, she closes the show with this song. This version shows her with John at the end of the song.

She passed away peacefully, after a short illness. She was 79.

Vale Christine McVie, a songbird who has now taken flight.

Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.

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