By now, we all know the melodrama that was brewing behind Fleetwood Mac’s magnum opus, Rumours.
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Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had already begun both a personal and musical relationship by the time they joined the already-established band. Their first appearance on a Fleetwood Mac record (their 1975 self-titled LP) saw the pair in relative harmony but, its follow-up would have them fractured into pieces.
Nicks and Buckingham’s relationship crumbled around this time, sending Nicks into a downward spiral and Buckingham into the hands of other women.
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“[Stevie] was going through a bit of a hard time too because she was the one who axed it,” Christine McVie said in Bob Brunning’s Fleetwood Mac: The First 30 Years. “Lindsey was pretty down about it for a while, then he just woke up one morning and said, ‘Fuck this, I don’t want to be unhappy,’ and started getting some girlfriends together. Then Stevie couldn’t handle it.”
The pair took stabs at each other many times throughout the record, but few are as searing as the Nicks’ penned “Silver Springs.” Now that the song has found a whole new generation of fans on TikTok, we’re taking a look back at the meaning behind the song below.
Behind the Meaning
“Silver Springs” didn’t make the original cut of Rumours. It instead became the B-side to the song “Go Your Own Way.” The song later appeared on the deluxe edition of the hit LP, as well as a few one-off compilations and Nicks’ solo projects.
The exclusion of the song on the record was yet another point of contention between the band. Nicks delivers an adept post-mortem of her relationship with Buckingham on “Silver Springs.” She mulls over a fairytale relationship that never was in the lyrics, placing blame on Buckingham for “not letting” her love him.
The song’s title came to Nicks as she was passing through Silver Spring, Maryland. “It sounded like a pretty fabulous place to me,” she said in the Classic Albums documentary about Rumours. “It’s a whole symbolic thing of what [Lindsey] could have been to me.”
Rumours co-producer Ken Caillat once revealed that he thought “Silver Springs” was one of the best-engineered and best-produced songs from the session.
“Stevie was in love with the song,” he said. “Lindsey was the guy who laid all of these big colors on the record and so you have to imagine it’s an odd position for him to be in. He’s mad at her, the song’s about them being mad but it’s a good art form. But you can tell by all those parts he did on the guitars and the harmonics and the picking, it’s a piece of art.”
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Nicks was so confident in the song that she gave the publishing rights to her mother, assuming it would generate a healthy sum for her. The album was nearly completed when Mick Fleetwood took Nicks aside and told her the song had been cut for being too long.
“I started to scream bloody murder and probably said every horribly mean thing that you could possibly say to another human being and walked back in the studio completely flipped out,” Nicks recalled in a 1991 BBC radio interview (per The Ringer).
“With a gun to my head, I went out and sang ‘I Don’t Want to Know’ and they put ‘Silver Springs’ on the back of ‘Go Your Own Way,'” she continued in her interview with the BBC.
The version making its way around TikTok comes from the 1997 live album, The Dance.
By that time, Nicks and Buckingham settled into their separate lives. Nicks had a firm grasp on her sobriety and Buckingham was dating Kristen Messner, whom he would later marry in 2000. A reunion of the pre-Fleetwood project Buckingham Nicks in 1996, prompted a full-scale reunion the following year.
The Dance would go on to earn the group three Grammy nominations and their first No. 1 album since Mirage in 1982.
“To be honest, I don’t remember hearing ‘Silver Springs’ done at rehearsals,” producer and engineer of the concert film Elliot Scheiner once told Rolling Stone. “Similarly, director Bruce Gowers doesn’t recall anything special about the early run-throughs of the song. It had always been a part of the set list for as long as he had been attending their practice sessions, and he just assumed that it had been a part of their pre-breakup concert repertoire.”
“The looks exchanged by Buckingham and Nicks throughout the show – and the particularly raw moment between them during the climax of ‘Silver Springs’ – did not come about until the two nights of taping in Burbank,” he continued.
Nicks holds a firm stare with Buckingham for the entire back end of the song. There’s no mistaking who the song is about while she sings I’ll follow you down til’ the sound of my voice will haunt you.
“[It was] for posterity,” Nicks once recalled. “I wanted people to stand back and really watch and understand what [the relationship with Lindsey] was.”
(Photo By Rick Diamond/Getty Images)