Rocky Mountain News, April 5, 1993

By Justin Mitchell

As Fleetwood Mac grew to stadium-sized popularity during the late '70s, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham began to feel the itch to go his own way.

To keep from suffering a Big Mac creative heart attack, Buckingham squeezed two solo albums - 1981's Law and Order and 1984's Go Insane - in between recordings with the band. Buckingham has also half-jokingly termed the under- appreciated 1979 Fleetwood Mac album Tusk his first solo foray.

Tusk was the follow-up to the best selling (16 million) Mac album of all time, Rumors. Buckingham, as the band's musical architect, took a decided left turn with Tusk, and the result was a relative commercial stiff - 2 million copies sold.

"Tusk was the reaction to the kind of sales Rumors had achieved, something so I would not fall in the trap of making Rumors II and Rumors III," said Buckingham, who appears Wednesday with a new band and to promote his latest solo album, Out of the Cradle. "I didn't want to get in a position where I lost my perspective or lost the idea of aspiring to something that had a lot of growth and potential. There was a backlash from the group, however, because that album didn't sell 16 million copies. I knew that there was no way that that process would occur on a Fleetwood Mac album again."

The stifling, unwieldy atmosphere for Buckingham with Fleetwood Mac also came from the fact that the quintet required five managers and five lawyers for the band to conduct business. Buckingham's swan song finally came following 1987's Tango in the Night. He recalled working on a song at the time called Soul Drifter, that would wind up on Out of the Cradle and spoke volumes about his feelings of estrangement from bandmates Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and John and Christine McVie. "I'm a soul drifter," he sings. "And I'm out of this town / Ain' t no use in hangin' 'round. My heart was broken / My part was spoken/ Now the ground has opened / All around me . . . It's a new dawn / So it's so long / For the soul drifter."

"I have a clear memory of writing that," said Buckingham. "The band recorded and mixed Tango at my house, and I have a visual of myself writing Soul Drifter in my bedroom while the rest of the band was in another room mixing the album. That song is about taking off and leaving it up to fate as to what will happen."

After Buckingham left, Fleetwood Mac hired two new guitarists to replace him and soldiered on. Inspired by exploring unfettered solo musical ground and by a Walt Whitman poem called Out of the Cradle ("Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking, Out of the mocking birds' throat, the musical shuttle, Where the child, leaving his bed, wandered alone . . . ") the guitarist began working on his version of Out of the Cradle.

"That poem is partly about the child that remains in all of us, although I think it's more about death," said Buckingham. "That was something that struck a certain resonance with me. The album is about the thing that dies and finding other things that replace it. As I distanced myself from the band a little bit, I realized how shrouded a situation it had been and how un-supportive of personal growth it had been. It was nobody's fault, though. I just realized that by the time I left there was a real lack of unity and it was time for me to leave. Although, at age 42, there's a certain irony for me in 'leaving the cradle.'"

There was a one-song reunion of the Buckingham-Nicks-Fleetwood Mac to play Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow) for the Clinton inaugural. "I didn't feel very particularly connected with the whole thing, although it was nice to be asked to do it," said Buckingham. "I didn't see a tape of it. It must have been odd to see the group up there after the fact and already out on various paths - it must have looked like people slightly disconnected from it all."

Out of the Cradle received great reviews, little airplay and since its release last summer, it has dropped off the charts. Still, Buckingham is a man happy with his art and the new band he's assembled to tour with. Ten musicians, including five guitarists, with Buckingham directing the musical traffic.

"We only occasionally reach the wall of sound proportions. Mostly, it's the flexibility to get the parts in and keep out of each other's way. The people are fairly unknown. I thought about picking some tour and session boys, but they get so jaded I didn't want it to happen. Beyond skill, I handpicked them from the chemistry. I like the idea of the multiple guitar effect approach, and it helps get near the nuance that you hear on the record. And the small-scale Busby Berkeley effect intrigued me."

Thanks to Les for posting this to The Ledge.