The Back of Love

Lindsey Buckingham has big, big love for Fleetwood Mac and for his solo work.

"Yeah," he deadpans. "It works."

And then some.

"You know," Buckingham says, "when I think about 'Big Love' now, I don't think about the recorded version. I think of it as the way I play it onstage, which is as one of the few songs that transformed itself from an ensemble piece to a single guitar, which is what got me thinking about doing what I'm doing on Under the Skin."

Lindsey Buckingham: The Fleetwood Mac vet always — wait 
for it — goes his own way.
Lindsey Buckingham: The Fleetwood Mac vet always — wait for it — goes his own way.

Recorded on a sixteen-track portable in hotel rooms during the Mac's last tour, Under the Skin is undeniably softer, more acoustic, than Buckingham's previous solo work, lined with a guardrail of barely there percussion and his trademark unified layers. Though slower in pace, tunes like "Show You How," "It Was You" and "Someone's Gotta Change Your Mind" recall the whispery, textured antiphons first summoned on the Tusk hidden gem "I Know I'm Not Wrong"; the feel is something akin to Gregorian chants recorded in Willy Wonka's factory.

Yet "Big Love," says Buckingham, is "the springboard for the whole psychology that led to the kind of thinking that was going on when I was making Under the Skin. It's weird. This whole line that goes all the way back to leaving the band and the very long-term effect, I guess.

"There's something there that needs to get out," he says of Skin. "There's something unfinished. Whether that's abnormal for someone my age, I don't know. It would be a lot easier to define myself as something simpler — as a father, as a husband — and to not make the time sacrifices that I'm making to do this. But you know, it's just something that's been a long time coming."

So this morning, Lindsey Buckingham sits in a chair in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in New York. Behind him is a much-celebrated legacy of recorded music. In front of him is another five weeks of playing to crowds smaller than Fleetwood Mac's most intimate gatherings. But Lindsey Buckingham seems happy, if not quite content. Which — for, you know, an artist — may be as good as it gets.

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