Hello there! This week our blog features a terrific 70s pop song, Go Your Own Way. We will first discuss the original version by Fleetwood Mac. Next, we will review a cover by The Cranberries and then a cover by NOFX.
Fleetwood Mac and Go Your Own Way:
The band Fleetwood Mac originally formed in 1967. The early lineup changed frequently but always included Mick Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass (hence the name “Fleetwood Mac”) and Peter Green on guitar.
However, Peter Green left in 1970 as he was dealing with significant mental-health issues. Fleetwood Mac then went through a few chaotic years. An important addition was keyboard player Christine Perfect who joined the group, married John McVie and became Christine McVie.
The band hit rock bottom in 1974, when their manager Clifford Davis assembled a ‘fake Fleetwood Mac.’ He brought in an entirely new group of musicians, and sent them on tour as ‘Fleetwood Mac.’ Davis told the musicians that the other members of the band had quit, but that Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie would be joining them shortly. This was a lie, and the ‘fake’ band soon dissolved. It took Fleetwood and McVie a year to re-gain the rights to the band’s name.
However, by the end of 1974 the band added American guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, together with his girlfriend and musical partner Stevie Nicks. This produced the “classic lineup” of Fleetwood Mac. This group is shown in the photo below, circa 1975. From L: Mick Fleetwood; Stevie Nicks; Lindsey Buckingham; Christine McVie; John McVie.Embed from Getty Images
In 1975, the group released an eponymous album that became a blockbuster. The album sold 5 million copies, with two big single hits written by Christine McVie and another two written by Stevie Nicks.
Their first big album turned Fleetwood Mac into rock superstars. Unfortunately, all of their personal lives cratered just as they reached the pinnacle of commercial success. Christine McVie and John McVie divorced, in large part due to John’s serious addiction issues with drugs and alcohol. Nicks and Buckingham’s romantic relationship also imploded; and Mick Fleetwood separated from his wife.
In spring 1977, Fleetwood Mac released another album, Rumours. This behemoth has now sold over 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.
However, Rumours was also the ultimate “tell-all” record, containing several songs that detailed the chaos within the band. One of the most famous was the first single from Rumours, Lindsey Buckingham’s song Go Your Own Way.
The song describes Lindsey’s attitude towards the end of his relationship with Stevie Nicks. Lindsey had known Stevie since she was 16, and the lyrics make it clear how much their breakup affected him.
Loving you isn’t the right thing to do
How can I ever change things that I feel
If I could, maybe I’d give you my world
How can I, when you won’t take it from me
[CHORUS] You can go your own way
(Go your own way)
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
(Go your own way)
Tell me why everything turned around
Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do
Here is the audio of the record Go Your Own Way from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album.
Isn’t this a great rock ‘n roll tune? The chorus is stirring, showing off those great vocal harmonies from Christine, Stevie and Lindsey. John McVie provides some sophisticated and bouncy bass lines, while Lindsey Buckingham produces soaring guitar solos near the middle and end of the tune.
But probably the most memorable contribution comes from Mick Fleetwood. His drumming, particularly his work on tom-toms, is unique and unforgettable. He drives the song forward and sustains the beat throughout the tune. No wonder the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame includes this in their list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. And the preceding audio file has been accessed 120 million times!
Although the record has the feel of a great ensemble jamming together, in actuality every member of Fleetwood Mac recorded their own instrument separately, and the pieces were assembled by the producers. In particular, Buckingham’s electric guitar solos were cobbled together from six different studio takes.
Now here is Fleetwood Mac in a live performance of Go Your Own Way.
This is from 1977. You can see why the song is considered one of the greatest “breakup revenge” tunes every written. Ever since the song’s release, audiences have gotten a thrill watching Lindsey singing the accusatory line “Packing up, shacking up’s all you wanna do,” while Stevie Nicks stands just a few feet from him onstage (by the way, this line was deeply hurtful to Stevie – probably as Lindsey intended).
In this video, Lindsey concentrates more on strumming chords than on the record, where he throws in an electric guitar solo. Note Lindsey’s style of playing guitar. His right hand strums the strings in much the same manner as the “clawhammer” style of playing banjo.
This is a rather unusual style; in fact, I’m not sure how Buckingham is able to produce some of his solos. However, he is a fine and underrated guitarist.
Although Go Your Own Way may be the most memorable “breakup” tune from Rumours, it is by no means the only one. Stevie Nicks’ Dreams describes her unraveling relationship with Lindsey (“You say you want your freedom, well who am I to keep you down?”). And Christine McVie’s song You Make Loving Fun describes the great sex she is having with her new boyfriend.
To top off this hot mess, Mick Fleetwood had an affair with Stevie Nicks. You would think Mick would know better; a few years back he fired his bandmate and best friend for sleeping with his wife. But at this time, Mick was consuming enormous amounts of cocaine, so perhaps his judgment was clouded.
Given the toxic combination of personal turmoil and rampant substance abuse, it is amazing that the band stayed together for another 10 years before dissolving in 1987. In 1997 Fleetwood Mac reunited for a new album, The Dance, and a world tour.
In 1998, Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This induction included both the original lineup (Mick, John, Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer), as well as the “classic lineup” with Christine, Stevie and Lindsey.
Christine McVie left the group in 1998; however, she re-joined the band in 2014. Then in a shocking move, the group fired Lindsey Buckingham in 2018, for reasons that are not entirely clear. He has been replaced on tour by Mike Campbell, former lead guitarist with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Neil Finn, former lead singer for Crowded House.
Fleetwood Mac was a group of extremely talented musicians. Their classic lineup produced some iconic hits, and they put on a great live show. Perhaps the biggest miracle was that the band managed to stay together for nearly 40 years after their personal relationships dissolved.
The Cranberries and Go Your Own Way:
The Cranberries were an Irish alternative-rock band. They initially formed in 1989 and by 1990 had assembled a lineup that included guitarist Noel Hogan, his brother bassist Mike Hogan, drummer Fergal Lawler and lead singer Dolores O’Riordan. Below is a photo of The Cranberries.
The group was inspired by fellow Irish pop star Sinead O’Connor. They developed a loyal following in Ireland and received offers from several record companies, eventually signing a contract with Island Records.
However, it took a few years before the group hit the big time commercially. Their 1993 album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? slowly but surely became a best-seller, helped out by massive play of their music videos on MTV. In June 1994 that album hit #1 on the UK album charts.
The band’s next two releases both placed in the top 10 in the Billboard 200 album charts. Dolores O’Riordan became famous for her delicate and vulnerable vocal style. In a signature touch, she incorporated a form of yodeling into her vocals.
So here are The Cranberries in a live performance of Go Your Own Way.
This is from a 1999 concert in Paris. I quite enjoy O’Riordan’s vocal style, and The Cranberries show themselves to be a tight and competent ensemble, with Mike Hogan’s bass and Fergal Lawler’s drumming propelling the tune forward.
The Paris crowd is extremely enthusiastic and sing along to the chorus at various points. Noel Hogan’s guitar solo is very closely structured after Lindsey Buckingham’s original.
The Cranberries continued to release albums after 2000, but without the same commercial success as their earlier work. Then around 2004, individual members of the band began to work on solo projects.
Dolores O’Riordan released a couple of solo albums, Noel Hogan started a new project, and Fergal Lawler sat in with a couple of other groups.
The Cranberries reunited in 2009 and commenced a North American and European tour. In 2017, the band released an acoustic album and began an international tour.
However, after just a few concerts the tour was cancelled. It was stated that O’Riordan was having medical issues with her back. On January 15, 2018, Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly at age 46. The coroner’s inquest ruled that she had drowned in a London hotel bathtub while under the influence of alcohol.
After the death of their lead singer, The Cranberries announced that they would release one last album and then disband.
The Cranberries were an accomplished and lively rock group. We enjoyed their material, and were saddened by the tragic death of Dolores O’Riordan.
NOFX and Go Your Own Way:
NOFX are an American punk band from LA. They were formed in 1983 by guitarist Eric Melvin, bassist and lead vocalist ‘Fat Mike’ Burkett and drummer ‘Smelly’ Sandin. In 1991 the band was joined by lead guitarist El Hefe. Below is a photo of NOFX.
The band is still performing, more than 35 years later. Their membership has had several temporary changes, but still retains most of their original lineup.
Apparently NOFX is considered to be quite a successful punk band, especially since they have never been signed to a major record label. They have sold over 8 million records and have released 13 studio albums, plus 17 EPs and a number of singles. One of their albums reached “gold” status.
I had never heard the band, although it appeared that NOFX had a quirky and self-deprecating sense of humor. For example, their first live album in 1994 was titled I Heard They Suck Live!! And a second live album in 2007 was called They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live!
Other albums have been titled Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing and Heavy Petting Zoo. So I thought “Well, the group is able to laugh at themselves, and a couple of these titles are amusing.”
However, then I saw a video of the band in a live performance of Go Your Own Way. Here it is.
You need to make up your own mind about this, a live 1992 concert in Stuttgart. My own reaction was – wow, they really stink!
OK, I understand that the purpose of a punk band is to produce “authentic” music intended to connect back with the rebellious roots of rock ‘n roll. However, I would not have realized that the band was playing Go Your Own Way had I not seen the title of their video.
This is a bit like going to a Bob Dylan concert nowadays, where he produces completely unrecognizable versions of his classic tunes. Also (am I being too harsh?), it seems to me that each of the NOFX musicians is noticeably untalented – is that somehow the point?
Despite the long lifetime of NOFX, they got into big trouble a year ago. After the horrific 2017 massacre in Las Vegas at a Jason Aldean concert, Fat Mike was quoted “You know, that sucked but at least they were country fans and not punk rock fans.”
After that incredibly callous statement, the lead sponsor of their festival cancelled and NOFX was dropped from the event. The group claims that they have since been blacklisted in the States. However, I see that they are doing a European tour this summer.
The band has its own show on Fuse TV. Well, NOFX are not my cup of tea but they seem to have a loyal following in the punk rock community.