t's very difficult having a love relationship with somebody you're working with. On the other side, one of the great pivot points of Fleetwood Mac was that you had two couples that were breaking up simultaneously. The kind of tension created by that also helped us keep our priorities in order. There was pain, there was confusion, and it all added up to make Rumours a soap opera on vinyl. What made us attractive to people was the feeling that you can hear those songs knowing we had these relationship problems in our personal life. You don't see a lot of that within one group in a rock situation, and I think that's part of what made us unique.
After Stevie and I joined the group, for the next several years I had to pretty much throw out everything I was about. Stevie had a different way about her. She had the freedom to create something of her own. Being the musician, for a long time I had to play Bob Welch tunes, Peter Green tunes -- people who had left the group. In a sense, I was like a lounge player in a group, which was not an easy thing. Philosophically, though, it provided me with a slow progression. It wasn't an easy progression, but it was a solid one.
Throughout Fleetwood Mac, there was always a sense of division. It was very subtle, nothing you could really put your finger on, it wasn't even all that negative, but the fact that there were three English people and two Americans meant there were cultural differences. I want to put this in the least negative way, but the cultural differences almost guaranteed that we would get to know one another as friends only to a certain point.
I'm that way anyway. I've got maybe one close friend. I keep my life as simple as possible. But a formality in the group did exist, and it probably always would have.
There was another thing that was different about us, and that was the road. When you're out on the road with a group of guys, your attitudes are going to be looser. You might even have the tendency to get more debauched on a general running level. But with two ladies on the plane it tends to make the gentlemen a little more gentlemanly.
Add that to the male-female tension, not necessarily in the way Stevie and I interacted, or John or Christine McVie, but as former lovers it was there.
Finally, there were the expectations that followed our tremendous success. There was a great deal of pressure to adhere to whatever the machinery wanted. Just look at the making of our Tusk album. The story is probably famous now, but the word was, when the people at Warners first heard Tusk, they saw their Christmas bonuses going out the window.
The whole idea of refuting the machinery can be viewed as more than a little awkward. You sell 16 million albums, like we did, and you've set that machinery in motion for next time. Tusk was a good album, but the focus of that album tended to be more on the visibility of the group, and the phenomenon of our previous sales figures, than on the music.
Barb Dahl Olson
Stranded on a desert island? Only one album? Tusk. Without a doubt.
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