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Other Peoples' Songs: Over and Over
Remembering Christine McVie
So this appears to be a thing, this thing with Other Peoples’ Songs here at the Machine Shop, that it comes time to do another and someone, some musician I love and admire, has died and I feel compelled to make some kind of tribute to them, to make my contribution to the world’s outpouring of grief and remembrance. So here we are again and Christine McVie, one fifth of golden-era Fleetwood Mac, has died.
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My very first memory, as far as I can tell, is associated with Fleetwood Mac. My parents were (as were so many other peoples’ parents of my generation) in thrall to the Mac. The first two Buckingham-Nicks-era records, Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, are inextricable from the memories of my early childhood; it’s like they were playing over everything. If the songs weren’t on the radio, they were on the turntable at home; if they weren’t on the turntable, they were on the stereo in the car. It’s in the car, in fact, that my first memory comes to me:
I’m in the back of my parents’ red VW microbus. (Yes, my parents, in typical boomer, Mac-listening fashion, owned a red VW microbus). It’s so hazy, but I’m certain that my mom and my dad are both there, in the front seats, so this would’ve been well before their eventual divorce. I’m in a car seat in this memory — which would’ve been a rarity back then — but my mom confirms that it was not a car seat that would’ve lifted me to seatbelt height (because there were no seatbelts), but a car seat that hooked on to the bench of the bus and let me look out the window. She says it might’ve had a steering wheel on it. That all scans with the memory.
“Say You Love Me” is playing on the stereo. I’m almost certain it’s that song — though time has muddied the waters.
The music is coming at me and I’m riding in the back of the bus with my parents — my sister must’ve been there with me, three years older — and it’s so hazy, it’s just on the very edge of memory — I think I might be two or three in this memory. We were probably driving back from some river trip, some day float on the Missouri, or we’re creeping along the dirt road toward the family campsite at Crow Creek, near Townsend, and I’m imagining in my head who is making this music that is coming at me. And in my mind I have crafted an image of a group of people and they’re all playing keyboards, probably based on some illustration I’d seen.
That’s it. That’s the memory. And that’s the first thing that popped into my head when I learned that Christine McVie had died. This woman, this incredibly gifted woman, had played not only a pivotal part in creating one of my very earliest memories, but had been instrumental in creating my first images of what music was.
So in remembrance of Christine, I’ve recorded my own version of “Over and Over,” one of my favorite of her songs — one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, full stop. It’s from Tusk, which wouldn’t come out till 1979 and I wouldn’t really discover till I was in my teens — when I renewed my love for the Mac.
Safe travels, Christine McVie.