Letters from Rosie 8 – Best Coast and that Fleetwood Mac cover
Have you seen the Best Coast cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’?
Hold on to yr halo…
Best Coast’s cover of ‘Rhiannon’ flung me into a sort of crisis the other day. When I heard it, I felt like crying. I felt really bad. I wanted to post it on Facebook with the words ‘comforting thots of death’ or some such comment. And then the idea was for me to post this, immediately afterwards, with indignation:
Which is a video of me, covering Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Sara’.
But I didn’t do it because my big theme is Grace, Everett, and that’s how I try to live. I try to temper my reactions, I try not to puke up internet all over dear life. I try to keep it with mine, as best I can. But in this case, I can’t… quite. So by writing to you I’ve found a third way – a way that I can shoot from behind bulletproof glass and vent on this issue, whilst simultaneously being removed by ‘analytical’ distance. Except, you are the last person I would ever want to hear me say these things that I am about to say. Above all else, The Sisterhood.
Like most total flaming hipsters, I love Fleetwood Mac. My parents did not listen to the Mac, but it wouldn’t matter even if they did, cos there is no generation gap anymore. I went thru a phase about five years ago where I started to get obsessed with albums that had sold over 20 million copies. (I know y’r probably choking.) There was a debate at the time bubbling on various blogs as to whether the album was a dying format or not. I can’t remember who wrote the piece that caught my imagination – maybe it was Simon Reynolds – about how all the significant revolutions in popular music have been the result not of some band’s influence, but instead the effect of inventions in formatting: vinyl LPs (birth of the album), the 12″ (birth of club culture), CDs (birth of everything being so compressed it’s absurdly loud/birth of paying relatively too much for your music collection) and now… MP3s (birth of paying nothing for your music collection).
With MP3 culture, as we all know, you don’t need to make a whole album and you don’t need to hear a whole album, thusly, the album is dead.
But in my heart I disagreed, because even tho’ we don’t need them, albums are just fucking cool.
And with the really, really good ones – you can see the past, the future and glean perhaps even magical powers.
So what makes 20 million people go out and buy the same product?
I’ve probably listened to Rumours several hundred times. I’ve watched the Classic Albums documentary on Rumours just as much as I’ve listened to the record. And Don’t Stop – The Story Of Fleetwood Sodding Mac, the BBC documentary – I watched that a shitload, until it was taken down off YouTube. 20 million in sales does not make a record ‘good’, but it does make it monumental. And as a music fan, I like to consider the considerable. So. Why are these songs good? Because the melodies are lovely, the emotions are very real, the musicianship is fluent and the production is elegant and timeless, like a Henry Moore sculpture, a Dior gown or a great breakfast menu. It’s art.
And they were marketed properly. Some clever fellow at Warners noticed that a very large number of baby boomers turning 30 were ready to chill in their nice alimony homes. By ’77, in mainstream America rock’n’roll had become the soundtrack of consumption, not revolution (that’s why in schools across England every morning, we thank God for punk).
Now, I’ve had intense hipster conversations with people who say that Tusk is the better album. That’s a pretty typical hipster point to absorb from somewhere (the Mighty Boosh, perhaps?) and then spit out. But I don’t fall for that shit. Tusk is nowhere fucking near as good as Rumours. And that is a fact.
Because while Lindsey Buckingham’s innovation and daring created an exciting album in terms of production, and while it remains a glorious standalone example of lo-fi done on a multi-million dollar budget – the equivalent of flying to the sun for the purposes of boiling an egg – the bottom line is… the songwriting isn’t very good. The material isn’t there. On blissed-out grooves like ‘Brown Eyes’ this point doesn’t matter cos the track is just so unbearably delicious. But Stevie doesn’t write anything better than ‘Sara’ and if Stevie’s not writing the hits, then the Mac hasn’t got them. (Apart from when Christine McVie is also writing them OBVERRRSSSLYYYY.)
That’s the other reason I like Fleetwood Mac. The feminist angle. How on earth did this happen, during the most male-dominated, sexist era in American music, a little blonde girl in a frilly dress became the credible, credited principle writer for a massive arena rock band? I like her fashion and stuff, but for me, this is the real reason Stevie is a legend. Please, please, girls everywhere stop talking about her hair and ‘witchy-ness’ and pick up on this point.
She was the holy grail – culturally received as pretty and smart. And she got to chill in a pink house in Malibu with Don Henley, who would send the jet to get her when they had a date.
So I read on nme.com that they are making a Fleetwood Mac tribute record, and a bunch of people with Urban Outfitters clothing lines are gonna be on the album. And everyone is talking about how much they love the Mac and blah, blah. I wasn’t too interested. Traditionally, anyone covering FM just sounds terrible and the efforts are soon forgotten, including, of course, my own. FM just seem to gain a 10-year windfall from each new generation’s investment in their illustrious legacy. It always makes me think, “It must be cool to be in Fleetwood Mac”. And it gives me hope that truly good songs and great albums will never die.
BUT. Then I was on hipsterrunoff and I saw Best Coast doing ‘Rhiannon’ live and I got irrationally, shamefully angry. This is what I was thinking: “Fuck my life. This grande baggage has a career? Bullshh…
I intervene here. This is God, by the way, not Everett. I, too, write in italics. I cannot let Rosie write something nasty about Best Coast. For it would be written in desperation and not in Truth. You know that scene in ‘Withnail And I’ where Withnail is talking about the young actor who “lands plum role with top director”? The bit where he’s prancing like a tit yelling, “I’m gonna be a STARRRR!” Well that’s the would-be tone here. And even tho’ it’s funny, it’s not right for her to be exposed in such a way over something as trivial as a bad Fleetwood Mac cover. I forbid her to become a meme tragedy. She needs to get smart. There’s a Fleetwood Mac covers album coming out, listen here on soundcloud and then listen to Ballet School’s version of ‘Sara’.
Then share your favourite.
Remember, I know every thought in yr head, so no being mean. Also, call your mother. Bless you all. GOD…? (no, I’m joking, I’m a big Madonna fan actually), GOD.*
That’s what I thought when I saw it. But then my mate said Best Coast had done a fundraising concert for Planned Parenthood in California and so I thot they were cool again and my Grace did endure and saved me from myself.
Rosie x x x x
P.S. Stevie Nicks is so lovely, she will probably say she loves this cover of ‘Rhiannon’. Like when she said she liked Billy Corgan’s wretched cover of ‘Landslide’!
P.P.S. It’s worth pointing out, Stevie’s not really that good at playing piano either. Lindsey Buckingham deserves to live a good life…
P.P.P.S. It seems a conflict of interest for Bethany to be doing a clothing line for a label that supports Republicans who don’t want Cali girls to have free birth control, when the money she makes for UO by getting girls to buy these clothes is gonna fund the Republican campaign to take away the same girls’ rights… Above all else, The Sisterhood etc….
From an article in the Philadephia Weekly:
When PW asks (Urban Outfitters head) Richard Hayne about his financial support of (Republican Senator) Rick Santorum, he initially denies it. And when presented with a computer printout of Santorum’s campaign donors from the Center for Responsive Politics website – which cites a $4,650 contribution from Urban Outfitters – he responds: “I’ll have to look into this. I don’t think this is right”. In fact, he and his wife have contributed $13,150 to Santorum and Santorum’s Political Action Committee over the years.