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"Over My Head"
Fleetwood Mac
Reprise 1339
Dec. 1975
Billboard: #20    Lyrics Icon Videos Icon

Fleetwood Macill the real Fleetwood Mac please stand up?

In 1975, it did.

Throughout its career, Fleetwood Mac would sport eleven different lineups (and counting). Bass guitarist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood were the only constants, and provided the rhythms that supported the various permutations of the band through four decades. The first incarnations rotated around guitarist and leader Peter Green, an amazingly fluid player who was haunted by his own success. After penning a few hits for the group, including "Albatross" and "Oh Well," he retired from the music business, shunning both his reputation and his wealth. In his place, Fleetwood Mac played host to a series of additional front persons, including Christine McVie (then the wife of John McVie) and longtime songwriter/vocalist/keyboardist for the band, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kerwin, Bob Welch, and others until, in 1975, Lindsey Buckingham and his girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, were invited into the fold.

Fleetwood Mac
"Over My Head" was the first of three Top 20 singles released off the Fleetwood Mac album. First charting on Aug. 2, 1975, the album climbed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent a total of 148 weeks on the charts.
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By 1975, styles were veering all over the place, causing audiences to align themselves with one trend or another while abandoning the remainder. Also, the rock-and-roll audience that came of age in the '60s was refusing to relinquish its hold on musical trends, despite the fact that it was growing older and becoming complacent. By the mid'70s, record labels were upping the target age of their releases, and making a lot of money in the process. Fleetwood Mac's personnel changes caused them to change direction as often as a telltale in a crosswind, each time allowing them to reevaluate current trends and modify their sound accordingly. Through this process, they were soon targeting their material to older audiences, but Fleetwood Mac were destined to become superstars. Sporting two female songwriters, in addition to the boundless creative talents of lead guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/producer Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac evolved into the band of the decade. It included two couples, and its songs exposed the personal nature of their increasingly difficult relationships. An eponymously titled album and in particular its follow-up, Rumours, served as real-life soundtracks for a generation that was totally screwed up on love. The experimentalism that had defined '60s sexuality entered the '70s with a serious hangover. Sexual freedom meant open relationships, a slackening of commitment, and a general acceptance of hedonistic tendencies. Fleetwood Mac's songs of sexual betrayal, uncertainty, and desire were perfectly suited to the confusion and insecurity that pervaded these times.

The 1975 album Fleetwood Mac was a remarkable success, both commercially and artistically, leaving the record company clamoring for more. While it slowly ascended to #1, the bandmembers were bombarded by the media, becoming superstars to a nation but alienated from one another. Meanwhile, their next album took ages to complete. Amid personal strife, including the breakup of both couples, horrendous studio difficulties, and numerous distractions caused by their sudden high profile, the five bandmembers found it next to impossible to nail down a final product. All the while, the public waited and waded through a sea of rumors while anticipating the record's release. By the time it came out, Rumours was guaranteed to be huge. Still, it transcended even the most optimistic expectations when it took control of the album chart's #1 position in May 1977 and remained there for the rest of the year, garnering a total of thirty-one weeks at the top position. For its problems as much as for its music, Fleetwood Mac was a band that everyone could relate to.

"Over My Head" was the first single issued by the three-men, two-women lineup. Looking back from today's perspective, it stands out among their other singles simply because it isn't hindered by their personal problems. It is also unhampered by Buckingham's overwrought constructivism (unlike the album Tusk) and Nicks's good-witch, bad-witch antics ("Sisters of the Moon," "Gold Dust Woman," etc.). Christine McVie's songwriting is as smooth as her voice, and "Over My Head" bubbles along with a realistic optimism and a rhythmic lilt that resembles flowing water.

- Thomas Ryan, American Hit Radio, Prima Entertainment, 1996.

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