Thoughts on Christine McVie Passing

I never did believe in miracles
But I’ve a feeling it’s time to try
I never did believe in the ways of magic
But I’m beginning to wonder why

— Fleetwood Mac, You Make Loving Fun

Fleetwood Mac was seemingly everywhere in the late 1970’s, and I was just old enough to appreciate what I was hearing, but young enough that the complex emotions rolled out in the lyrics of the individual band members went way over my head (pun intended). Most of the attention was on the rest of the band, but Christine McVie was quietly contributing a huge catalog of hits herself. She passed away yesterday at the striking age of 79. Why is 79 striking? Because it’s both older than a rock star is generally remembered as and younger than a person ought to be when they leave us. Life is indeed short.

A few years ago I started developing a list of favorite Fleetwood Mac songs that were going to be the basis of a blog post. I reviewed it and put it off, feeling it was mostly a greatest hits collection and not a deep enough dive into their very best songs. But the thing is, Fleetwood Mac’s very best songs also happened to be massive hits. What do you do with that but accept it for what it was? The right mix of talent and chemistry and timing thrown together in a recording studio when seemingly everyone was ready for the message they were delivering. Musical magic: somewhat overproduced but sounding ridiculously delicious.

I don’t hold you down
Maybe that’s why you’re around
But if I’m the one you love
Think about me
— Fleetwood Mac, Think About Me

I never did see Fleetwood Mac in concert. By the time I was old enough to start going to concerts myself I was on to bands like U2, The Clash and Duran Duran. We shove aside the familiar in favor of whatever is next as we come of age. But we never forget our foundation, do we? Eventually we recognize that it’s as much a part of our identity as our favorite teachers growing up. There’s something to this soundtrack of our lives business. At their most silently powerful, songs anchor us to a certain time in our lives and can unite us in a time too many are divided. McVie, together with the rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and her ex-husband John McVie were in turn the anchors of that band.

We all know that artists fade away in time, but their songs remain. The same week that Christine McVie passed Irene Cara also left this world. It’s like the early 1980’s are disappearing before our eyes like that scene in Back to the Future when Marty’s family begins fading from the photo and then Marty himself begins to fade away as the implications of going back in time are realized. But that’s life, isn’t it? We hold the line in our time and give the reigns to the next generation. We all fade away eventually. What remains is the work that we did in our time here: raising families, building businesses, creating art or crafting ridiculously delicious sound worms.

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