“Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” is one of those songs that is obviously more powerful in its delivery, as relayed by Christine McVie, than it is in its composition. That is to say that the song is unanimously considered a Fleetwood Mac classic, and even other members of the band, such as John McVie, knew so from the time they first heard it. But the lyrics themselves aren’t really anything deep or breathtaking.

In fact you would think that, considering that Christine and John had recently gone through a divorce, if anything the wording would directly address that issue. Well if so, then it can be ascertained that the vocalist definitely took it all in stride. That is to say that she is actually expressing love for the addressee, who can be interpreted as her romantic interest. Not only that but she is also ‘wishing him (or possibly her) all the love in the world’.

But that noted, perhaps the ear-catching part of this piece comes to us via the bridge, where Christine desires said fortune even more so for herself. So amidst her loving the addressee “like never before” even, there is also a sense of selfishness, if you will, which we will say is more realistically indicative of a recent divorcee towards her ex.

That said, even though the likes of co-producer Kevin Caillat have concluded that this is a very “personal” Christine McVie song, the songstress herself has clarified that such is not the case. According to her, this piece has a universal application.

Conclusion

Either way, this is definitely a brave and even and for the most part altruistic sentiment for someone to come up with fresh after a divorce. And it has been suggested that such is actually the intended purpose, i.e. Christine herself being amongst “the songbirds” referenced therein, i.e. the ones that “keep singing” no matter what. 

And what she would be basically saying in that regard, quite cleverly given the simplicity of the lyrics, is that she is not going to let a harrowing experience like divorce (or even John McVie fraternizing with other women at the very moment she wrote this song) destroy the love that exists within her heart. And it is that very disposition that likely led to the effective delivery of “Songbird”, as noted above.

Fleetwood Mac, "Songbird" Lyrics
Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie explains "Songbird"

Facts about “Songbird”

This track is from Fleetwood Mac’s most celebrated album, Rumours. It was released as part of the album on 4 February 1977. And it is obvious that “Songbird” itself ranks amongst the band’s fan favorites. For instance, the BBC created a documentary about the group (actually centered on member Christine) in 2019 which itself is entitled Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird.

However, of the four singles Warner Bros. Records released from Rumours, “Songbird” was not amongst them. It was rather the B-side to the second single from the project, “Dreams” (1977). So that means it does not have its own chart history to speak of. 

However, the track still managed to be certified silver in the United Kingdom during the 21st century. And that would apparently be due to online sales of the song.

The aforementioned Christine McVie not only sings “Songbird” but also wrote the song. And the entire band produced the track in conjunction with the following regular collaborators:

  • Ken Caillat
  • Richard Dashut

This can by and large be considered a Christine McVie solo track. For instance, she also plays piano on it. 

And as the story goes, she came up with the tune almost instantly in the thick of one night. She subsequently stayed awake until the morning so that she could properly lay it down without forgetting it. 

She also recorded it for the most part without her bandmates, with Ken Caillat and co. going out of their way to create the proper atmosphere.

The only other member of Fleetwood Mac to be directly involved was Lindsey Buckingham, who plays the acoustic guitar.

Song’s Legacy

The legacy of “Songbird” is also manifest in the artists who have covered it since. For example, both Eva Cassidy (1963-1996) and Willie Nelson dropped their own renditions of this classic. Furthermore, they both also had albums named after the song, respectively in 1998 and 2006. 

Additionally a contestant on The X Factor named Shanna Goodhead covered it in 2009. Shanna’s version apparently marked the only time the song had actually appeared on the UK Singles Chart. That said, it must be noted that Eva Cassidy’s aforementioned album, which was released shortly after her passing, topped the UK Albums Chart.

Songbird

“Songbird” saves Fleetwood Mac

At the time Christine McVie came out with “Songbird”, Fleetwood Mac was going through the motions. They were a band who at one time was blessed or cursed, depending on one’s perspective, with a couple of serious romantic relationships amongst its members. 

Christine was married to bassist John McVie from 1968 to 1976. And the band’s guitarist at the time, Lindsey Buckingham, was practically married to his high school sweetheart and established musical partner, Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac’s other female vocalist). They were married from the late 1960s into the mid-1970s. 

Both of these relationships fell apart just prior to the band working on Rumours. Furthermore drummer Mick Fleetwood’s own marriage to his first wife, Jenny Boyd had also come to an end. 

And it is said that “Songbird” proved powerful enough to help keep the group together amidst all of this drama.

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