‘The Chain’ is a mishmash of musical fragments written by various band members
Even though Fleetwood Mac started releasing albums in 1968, they didn’t get their No.1 debut album until 1975, with Fleetwood Mac. This was in part due to the fact that they had recently acquired two great songwriters, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. They released their jewel, an album certified twice Diamond, Rumors, one year later. One of the biggest hits on the record, “The Chain”, turned out to be a musical representation of themselves.
Just as they were a connected motley team, the song is made up of many different musical fragments from each of them. Either way, the members and their music were linked.
“The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac contains many different musical fragments
Rolling Stone once called “The Chain” “Frankenstein’s Monster”. This is true because the melody is made up of musical fragments that various members of the group have already written.
“Constructed from a handful of disparate musical fragments, ‘The Chain’ has the distinction of being the only song credited to the five band members of the late ’70s,” Rolling Stone wrote.
The heart of the song is Christine McVie’s “Keep Me There” (also known as “Butter Cookie”), “a keyboard-tense track that remained incomplete during the album’s first sessions in February 1976”.
âWe decided we needed a bridge, so we cut a bridge and tweaked it in the rest of the song,â Buckingham told Rolling Stone in 1977. The band agreed to use âa passage from disturbing 10 note bass played by John McVie on a slow crescendo of Fleetwood drums.
âWe didn’t have a voice and left it for a long time in a bunch of songs,â Buckingham continued. âHe almost disappeared from the album. Then we listened again and decided that we like the bridge, but we don’t like the rest of the song. So I wrote verses for that bridge, which wasn’t originally in the song, and edited them. “
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They called it ‘The Chain’ because ‘it was a bunch of songs’
After having “worked backwards from the bridge”, Buckingham used Mick Fleetwood’s bass drum as “a simple metronome to keep time”.
âFor the embroidery,â Buckingham used a âfolk guitar figureâ previously used on his and Nicks song âLola (My Love),â which the then couple recorded for their pre-Fleetwood Mac album by 1973. Buckingham Nicks. “The end was the only thing left of [Christine McVieâs] original track. We ended up calling it ‘The Chain’ because it was a bunch of songs, âBuckingham continued.
Then came the lyrics, “the last link.” Fleetwood later told Lucky 98 FM, âWe originally had no words. And it didn’t really become a song until Stevie wrote it. She walked in one day and said, âI wrote a few words that might be good for what you were doing in the studio the other day.â So it was put in place. Lindsey arranged and made a song out of all the songs we put on tape. ”
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Nicks said giving him lyrics was a “take for the team” moment
The way Nicks tells the story, Buckingham asked for the lyrics. She did not offer them. In an interview with Variety, she explained that she had her own ideas for “The Chain”. She had previously recorded it as a solo demo at home.
âI was in the car waiting for my assistant to get something a few days ago, and a version of ‘The Chain’ popped up,â Nicks said. “I say to myself, what is it? And that was ‘The Chain’ before Lindsey [Buckingham]. “
Nicks said Buckingham asked him, ” You know that song you wrote about ‘If you don’t love me now you will never love me again“- can we have it?” Because we have this amazing solo that’s at the end, when John McVie comes inâ¦ We have that, and it’s amazing, but we don’t really have a song. Would you consider leaving us this song that I know you have, because I’ve known you for a long time and heard it? “
Nicks said she was thinking, “Well, alright. I’ll take one for the team here. And I’ll give you the song with all the words and verses and everything, so you can use your solo.
She remembers “having listened [the demo] and it was just me singingâ¦ And I was like, ‘Wow, I had full plans for the original’ Chain ‘song before I gave it to Fleetwood Mac.’ I mean, I’m really glad I gave it to Fleetwood Mac because it became one of the best songs. But he was holding on before they recorded him.
âThe Chainâ went on to become one of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits. It is “an apt metaphor for the bond that unites Fleetwood Mac despite decades of interpersonal turmoil.”