Fleetwood Mac made “Glee” history this week. In addition to joining the ranks of artists whose songs have been featured on the show more than once (Gwyneth Paltrow, Naya Rivera and Heather Morris sang “Landslide” in March), they now have bragging rights to something no one else does: having an episode entirely devoted to one of their albums. In this case, the classic record Rumours.
When Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) assigned his gossipy students the task of covering the album, the New Directions not only got a great lesson in the risks of gossip, but also in the history of classic rock royalty. Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Naya Rivera, Dianna Agron and Kevin McHale, as well as guest star Kristin Chenoweth, took on six songs from the record, including “Dreams,” “Never Going Back Again,” “Don’t Stop,” “Go Your Own Way,” “Songbird” and “I Don’t Want to Know.”
And while the “Glee” kids had their share of drama in the “Rumors” episode, it was no match for what Fleetwood Mac was going through while making Rumours. Released on February 4, 1977, Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album would turn out to be the band’s greatest commercial success. In fact, in the nearly 35 years since its debut, the generation-spanning album has been certified 19-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, making it the 10th top-selling record of all time in the United States.
Rumours spawned chart-topping hits such as “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams,” “You Make Loving Fun” and “Don’t Stop” (which took on something of a second life when President Bill Clinton used it during his campaign) and paved the way for the record to become a critical darling and favorite throughout the decades.
The Grammy-winning record has been widely regarded as one of the essentials for any music fan. Among its many accolades, Rumours was named by Time magazine as one of the all-time best albums (they wrote that it had a “groovy, licentious aura”), while Rolling Stone placed it at #25 on their 500 Greatest Albums list.
Of course, long before the legacy of Rumours, there was the story of how it came to be. While Fleetwood Mac recorded its rock-and-roll tale of love, heartache and betrayal that transformed into 40 minutes of universally relatable lyrics and smooth melodies, the band was rife with tension due to romances gone awry. Drummer Mick Fleetwood was going through a divorce from his wife at the time, while the eight-year marriage of bassist John McVie and keyboardist Christine McVie began to unravel. Singers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were also in the midst of their tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. When the couples weren’t fighting or ignoring one another completely, they were creating an album whose very sentiment echoed the complicated matters of the heart they were all going through.
While the creation of Rumours may have marked a difficult time for the band members, it turned out to be the record that would ultimately solidify them as legends, long past their split.
In 1998, Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, a record featuring a variety of artists from Matchbox 20 to Elton John to Jewel covering the album’s timeless tunes, became a hit. Then, in 2004, a remastered deluxe edition of Rumours was released and included bonus songs such as “Planets of the Universe” and “Think About It.”
While Fleetwood Mac and Rumours have stayed popular throughout the years thanks to their dedicated fans and classic-rock radio, this latest “Glee” homage may be introducing the group to a whole new generation.
Do you think “Glee” did Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours justice in this week’s episode? Sound off in the comments!