Tell me sweet little lies
The most commercially successful version of Fleetwood Mac came around before the advent of the video age.
I’m estimating their Rumours album sold roughly 204 million copies, and its follow-up Tusk sold about half that so these people had no problem paying their restaurant bills for awhile. The band’s history is full of the kind of silly acrimony, feuds started with on-stage glares, marital infidelity with each other, all of that, and it is all in the lyrics of their songs.
Ten years after Rumours, after a break for a few years of solo projects, they went into the studio for Tango in the Night, and while there was never any assumption that the album was going to sell as much as the two late-70s radio staples, with songwriters as talented as these, there was likely going to be something very good. Some prefer the singles Seven Wonders, Big Love or Everywhere, but my own needle swings towards the collaborative Little Lies, which three singers take turns providing co-lead vocals.
The video, taken in a rural pasture is even more brilliant and a reminder that people cared about videos back then, but not enough to spend more than half a day doing them before getting it out the door. There’s a lot to digest in three minutes, 37 seconds. Here’s a sequence of events that could only have taken place in this video:
0:10 After a sequence that establishes that yes, we are on a farm with static images and pastel renderings of these images, drummer Mick Fleetwood walks out into a pasture and disappears, leaving song co-writer Christine McVie waving him goodbye. I’m not sure what any of this means, other than we are to assume that Fleetwood has left that band and was beamed up to his home planet.
0:27 Now we’ve got Lindsey Buckingham stretching out his arms and hands, wandering around a well-manicured barn that appears to have been built specifically to have dramatic light entering through its sides. Wearing a striped suit with no tie, he’s already looking uncomfortable.
0:33 Fleetwood is back, walking down a path between the barn and a house. Reports of his disappearance were greatly exaggerated. I always thought he looked so old in this video and it turns out that right now I’m over two years older than him when Tango came out. Yeah, I know.
0:41 There’s bassist John McVie, Christine’s ex-husband, about a second or two after Buckingham, seemingly both playing their own stuff in an open garage about 20 feet from each other. And we thought Fleetwood Mac didn’t do garage rock…
0:43 As he frequently did in videos, Buckingham is openly mocking the concept of lip-synching and there was no way any director was going to have the cajones to tell him differently. I guess that take will do, Lindsey…
0:50 Stevie Nicks gives her only line in the song ‘Tell me lies” in a barn while wearing a flowy black dress that kind of looks out of place on a cattle farm, grooving it like her place in the band depended on it. See, Lindsey? Your ex-girlfriend is taking this seriously… why can’t you…
0:52 Oh my goodness, open your eyes when you… Sigh. Fine, Lindsey. You win.
0:55 Framed differently than before, the McVies and Fleetwood (now on bongos rather than only a snare drum for some reason) are now outside.
1:00 Nicks is now wearing a white dress, singing the same line. Did I mention I love this video?
1:07 Nicks and Christine McVie are walking beside a fence that has quite honestly seen better days. The pair are enjoying an amiable chat arm-in-arm which made me wonder; what, other than being in this band, did they have in common?
1:26 A cold-looking Buckingham, arms folded over his chest and clutching a guitar, looks up at the camera with giant blue eyes, seeming to be telling someone: ‘Rescue me from this video’. A few seconds later, he fades into a different part of the farm than where we briefly lost Fleetwood.
2:09 Buckingham, wearing sunglasses now, appears to have spent a bit of time with Monty Python’s John Cleese and learned about the ministry of silly walks. There is no way to describe it other than if his legs weren’t working properly. Everyone else seems to walk normally in the sequence where they fade in and out of each other looking outside through the side of the barn.
2:35 Nicks is on a horse, one that hasn’t made an appearance yet in the video. I can only imagine this was a stipulation that if they were going to spend a whole day there, Stevie wanted to ride a horse in one of the shots.
3:03 While the band is going through the chorus one last time, Buckingham tilts his head to the side as he’s singing his bit. I can tell you as someone who has performed with a choir that no choir director will advise this as a reasonable way to sing.
3:25 One more fadeaway. Bye, Lindsey.