Music supervisor Randall Poster (Moonlight Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums) was one of guys behind last year’s Rave On, a Grammy-nominated tribute to Buddy Holly. This year, he shifts his focus to Fleetwood Mac. Just Tell Me That You Want Me casts a wide net, with everyone from Marianne Faithfull to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy taking a stab at the group’s harmony-drenched classics. We caught up with co-producer Poster earlier this summer to talk about the recording process.
So, why Fleetwood Mac?
We’d done the Buddy Holly tribute record last year, and with the success of that, they sort of asked what I wanted to do next. I thought Fleetwood Mac would be a great catalog and great story to jump into. I’ve always loved them. I was first exposed to the classic “Stevie and Lindsey” era of Fleetwood Mac, and then as I explored the other eras, the whole vast legacy continued to be so interesting and compelling. I thought it would be a great foundation for a tribute, as well as a re-examination.
You’ve got a lot of bands on here. Was it difficult to track everybody down and get them into the studio?
All these bands are so busy. They’re all working. You’d catch them where you could, or get them to do the song on the road, wherever they happened to be. At the beginning of the process, we put together a list of all the songs that potentially we’d like to use — our favorites, I guess — and then as the songs came in, or as things unfolded, we’d kind of plot it out, and try to capture all the various sounds and elements and angles that we wanted to put out there. You don’t say, “Ok, everyone do this all at once.” There’s a bit of a process where you let the story unfold musically.
Given how widespread the band’s influence seems to be, you probably didn’t have much trouble soliciting groups to record these songs.
Well, you sort of gravitate toward the people who’re already grounded in that sound. Like magnets, we attract. You start to circle around various artists who’ve really shown those influences in their own music.
So you weren’t interested in throwing listeners for a loop, and getting someone like GWAR to cover “Dreams.”
Yeah, it’s not my interest to do completely blow up the spirit of Fleetwood Mac. It was to filter it through some different artistic sensibilities.
Have you been contacted by Stevie, Lindsey, Mick, or John?
No, but after we started getting some attention for the record, Fleetwood Mac announced they were gonna get together and tour in 2013. So I’m taking credit for that.
Which songs on the album really stand out to you?
This is a self-serving answer, but I really love all the tracks. On different days, I find myself drawn to different things. I always love to hear Will Oldham sing, so his “Storms” is something I go back to pretty steadily. That’s the joy of doing something like this. We only included bands that we love. No one forced anything on us. It’s a bounty of riches, really. I got to be in the studio with Marianne Faithfull, who did a really great version of “Angel.” And one of the challenges with this, especially when you’re taking on some of the more well-known songs, is finding very distinct singers who can make it more than just another version of the same song. You need them to bring some personality to it. Really, one of the things you find when you hear some of these reinterpretations, is that the lyric and the content becomes a little bit more illuminated. You look at it in a deeper way, because you’re not just swept away by the familiarity of the original version. I’m not expressing this well, but the content for some of these songs becomes more vivid because you’re paying attention to it in a new, different way. For some of these songs, just to hear the lyrics sung by someone else… it’s like you hear the words differently. And you remember how great these songs are.