Hit Mag No. 10, Fall 1984

Lindsey Buckingham Reels Himself In!
(uncredited writer)

Lindsey Buckingham has never exactly set out to make a solo album. A confirmed studio addict, he methodically experiments with sounds and structures until enough of the pieces form the basis for songs that then cry out to be completed and recorded. On his second Elektra album, Go Insane, lyric ideas inspired some of the experiments, and the songs are tied together by a common thread.

"It’s really about going insane in the mildest possible sense," he explains. "It’s about having your sense of reality tested through various circumstances until you’re not really sure where reality lies, and you have a choice of letting yourself continue to be insane on some level or of reeling yourself back in."

Buckingham admits that he particularly "reels himself in" on Side One, which contains the hit single "Go Insane," followed by the tune, "Slow Dancing." "Both of those songs have certain esoteric aspects about the," he says, "although their form is not as challenging as some of the other things on the album. They draw you right in."

The first side finishes with "Play in the Rain," a song that continues onto Side Two. "We originally had the version that ends Side One," explains Lindsey, "but it seemed like it would be very interesting to continue that particular thing, which is probably the most experimental piece on the album.

"That, as the beginning of Side Two, and the next song on that side are rhythm pieces. Then it goes into ‘Bang The Drum,’ for which we sent John, the second engineer, into a schoolyard to record kids playing. The song is certainly influenced by the Beach Boys’ use of vocals, and it is a prelude to ‘D.W. Suite.’ It shifts from being non-melodic and purely rhythmic into harmonies in major keys. In fact, the whole second side is pretty much in that frame of mind, going from minor to major keys."

Lyrics have become more important in Buckingham’s writing on this album, as opposed to his first solo album, Law and Order, and his five albums with Fleetwood Mac. "I feel my emotions have deepened," he explains, "and the lyrics are far more important running through this album than they ever have been to me in the past. I didn’t say, ‘This is a lyric I want to have,’ but then I realized the lyrics were so close to what I was feeling, it became more important for the whole album to have that train of thought running through it."

Buckingham co-produced the album with engineer Gordon Fordyce, with Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, The Cars, Cheap Trick, Devo) acting as executive producer. The team came together in the summer of 1983. "I went to England to meet with Roy, while he was there overseeing some other projects," he says. "I felt it was an important time for me, and I had to go there. He got me together with Gordon, but then I had to wait for him to finish the project he was involved in."

Work began late in the year in LB’s Garage, Lindsey’s 24-track garage studio, where much of his first solo album, Law and Order was recorded. "We worked in my garage for a couple of months before we moved to Cherokee Studios, Roy was in practically every day for two months, which he told me he hadn’t done since the second Queen album. His influence is very strong."

The last song on the album was written in three very visual parts. "It starts off and ends with traditional Irish music and, in the middle, there’s a piece of my own. That traditional non-American folk music element appealed to me as did the idea of a song as a serial with three separate movements—the wish, the prayer, the reflection—as if you were watching something on television, and you changed the channel."

"The first part is like a ‘wish’ to get away, or to go insane. Then there’s a transitional thing with a crowd and an introduction into the ‘prayer’ part, and all these things sound like the Beach Boys with a lot of harmonies. Then it goes to the ‘reflection’ part--this is the traditional Irish music with a flute, getting faster and faster like the realization that life goes on, and it ends as an Irish jig."

For Lindsey, solo projects are his opportunity to stretch out and experiment musically. "The whole experience of Fleetwood Mac has been a sense of responding to other people’s needs, sometimes ahead of my own, and I’m proud of that. But it’s also good to be a bit selfish at times and to express ourselves for ourselves."

What’s next on the agenda?

There’s the possibility of producing other artists, and, of course, another solo album. "Producing and making records is what I do even more than writing and singing," he explains. "Some of the most fun I’ve had in a studio has been working with Christine (McVie) or with Stevie (Nicks) or with Walter Egan, where I’m strictly doing one thing and I don’t have the pressure of having to be objective about my own material."

"Gordon told me he came away from this album very educated about what is possible to be done in the studio, and that was the best compliment he could have given me. I had only worked with one other producer before this album, and one of the great things I cam away with is knowing that in a studio, I can function outside the one little microcosm I’ve been working in for so long. That’s a good feeling to come away with, that I can go into a studio by myself and produce somebody."

I really liked this one. I hope you did too. I had to go back and relisten to "Bang The Drum" to hear the kid noises because that is one sound I'd never heard before, or at least had never really consciously recognized. And sure enough, the kid noises are there.

It's kind of amazing and a little touching too to hear him still a bit insecure and in need of some support and encouragement to know that he really is a great producer (even after he'd already done "Rumours" and "Tusk" at this point).

What do y'all think?

Les :-)

Thanks to Lesley Thode for posting this to The Ledge.