Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Fleetwood Mac, “Dreams”
42 years ago this week, Fleetwood Mac sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 with the second single from the band’s legendary RUMOURS album.
Produced jointly by Ken Caillat, Richard Dashut, and the band themselves, “Dreams” was written by Stevie Nicks, and it emerged as a result of Stevie just looking for a way to kill some time at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California, where RUMOURS was recorded.
“One day when I wasn’t required in the main studio, I took a Fender Rhodes piano and went into another studio that was said to belong to Sly Stone, of Sly and the Family Stone,” Nicks recalled in an interview with Blender. “It was a black-and-red room, with a sunken pit in the middle where there was a piano, and a big black-velvet bed with Victorian drapes. I sat down on the bed with my keyboard in front of me. I found a drum pattern, switched my little cassette on and wrote ‘Dreams’ in about 10 minutes. Right away I liked the fact that I was doing something with a dance beat, because that made it a little unusual for me.”
Amazingly (at least in retrospect), her bandmates were pretty meh about the track.
“When Stevie first played it for me on the piano, it was just three chords and one note in the left hand,” said McVie. “I thought, ‘This is really boring.’”
Thankfully, Lindsey Buckingham wasn’t as dismissive: he created three sections out of identical chords but still managed to make each one sound different. This is particularly impressive when you consider that “Dreams” was written about Buckingham.
“The night I wrote ‘Dreams,’ I walked in and handed a cassette of the song to Lindsey,” Nicks told The Daily Mail in 2009. “Even though he was made with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled. What was going on between us was sad. We were couples who couldn’t make it through. But as musicians, we still respected each other – and got some brilliant songs out of it.”
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