One song that I really like would have to be “The Chain” by rock band Fleetwood Mac.
In 1976, Fleetwood Mac was at the point of total disbandment. Christine McVie (lead vocalist) and John McVie (lead bassist) were in the middle of a messy divorce and were not on speaking terms outside the studio. Stevie Nicks (lead vocalist) and Lindsey Buckingham (lead guitarist and lead vocalist) were in an on-again and off-again toxic relationship, and Mick Fleetwood (lead drummer) was separating from his wife. And on top of this stressful situation, some members were facing a serious cocaine addiction and the media would not stop harassing them. Somehow, amidst all of this pressure, the band managed to record the best album ever created in my opinion: Rumors.
Having allegedly sold forty million copies, Rumor’s album success lies in its universal appeal. We have all been through breakups and the album speaks to that. Lyrically, it is an energy of grievances about lovers from the very first song to the very last. This stays true, however, halfway through the album, Fleetwood Mac’s b-side commences with a peculiar song named “The Chain.” What I love about “The Chain” is that it caught me off guard. It is the only song in the entire album to feature writing credentials from all five band members.
What I truly love about the song is its peculiarity. Instead of the upbeat rock that is dominant on the album, “The Chain” starts off dark and mysterious. It is unlike any song in the band’s album. Despite the tensions in the band, despite the media pressures outside the band, the chain is keeping the band together. At its core, the chain is the music; the connection that brought those five members together and held them strong up until that point. “The Chain” is an intense statement. A dark and desperate unity amidst an album full of friction. “The Chain” compelled me through its lyrics and its unique instrumentation.
The lyrics, “And if you don’t love me now/You will never love me again/I can still hear you saying you will never break the chain,” propose an ultimatum; the relationship is either going to survive or end. All of the band members contributed to the writing of the song, and as such, all of them were facing breakups. No one was going to break up the band. They knew together as musicians they had something special.
The music was more important to them than anything else. The chain is a metaphor for strength and togetherness, but at the same time chains can be imprisonment. Honestly, what makes me take notice of this song is the iconic bass rift by John McVie.
It is suspenseful but at the same time obvious. It is the thunder prior to the rainbow. The blood prior to a cut.
And it grows to a breaking point where Buckingham explodes into an emotional guitar solo, which I interpret it to be a release of anger and frustration. This song makes me feel empowered. It takes me on a reflective state of mind; it makes me feel as if everything is going to be all right. These were regular people going through regular everyday problems, and despite the fame, the pressure, the drugs, they persevered. Thanks to the strength of “The Chain,” and the music it has helped them create, the band will live on forever.
I was introduced to Fleetwood Mac by my grandparents. I first heard it in my living room approximately a year ago. “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. Take a listen. Thank you.