When Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham announced a jointly recorded self-titled effort and a summer tour presaging their full-band gig in July at the Classic East Festival (NYC's Citi Field), the first thought was, How odd. After 40-plus years of being a band – and a radically, famously dysfunctional one at that – that these two would play as one? These two never even seemed close.
"Well, we weren't," McVie says with a deep laugh. "We never did pal around. Our connection was in the studio. He never was the easiest guy to get to know, and he'd be the first one to say it. He is a nice chap, though, and we have become closer."
Share with her a quote of Buckingham's – that it took him "40 years of perspective" to get where he is now – and that it takes a really long time for the Mac crew to get over stuff (e.g. band-member romances, drugs), McVie laughs. "It's just how we work in this band. We're all highly dysfunctional. We don't actually belong in a band, yet, on stage, our alchemy is undeniable." So, too, is her connection with Buckingham from the sounds of their eponymous album and cunning, copenned songs such as "Feel About You," "Red Sun," and "Too Far Gone" – all sung by McVie in her legendarily bluesy voice. "Making this album between us wasn't in the cards to start, but it's fantastic that we did."
All this could have easily been avoided if McVie – who retired from Fleetwood Mac and most music-making in 1998 – had stayed retired. "I bought two dogs, and the dogs were my life, but I did struggle with isolation. I went into a dark place, you know, I was truly bored in the end of it all," she says of retirement's downside and a fear of flying that kept her at bay.
"I realized I wanted life, sought out help – a psychiatrist who got me out of the dark – all of which happened before Mick [Fleetwood] phoned, quite fortunately, from Maui." Not only did McVie make her third solo album — In the Meantime, in 2004, with her nephew, Dan Perfect (an album where "I squeezed all the bad out of me") — but she also played with Fleetwood's blues band in Maui for a bit before the inevitable question came up.
"'How would it be for me to rejoin Fleetwood Mac?' got answered with a resounding 'yes' because I got bitten by that bug."
The Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie album wasn't made on purpose, or with a purpose, but rather just for Buckingham to record McVie's more-upbeat, post-analysis tracks — "to see if there was magic there, which we did find quite quickly, and then some." That the sessions included bassist John McVie and drummer Fleetwood meant that, in essence, Christine McVie/Lindsey Buckingham was Fleetwood Mac without Stevie Nicks (who is currently finishing a solo tour).
"After we demoed those first six songs, it really did sound like a duet record," she says, mentioning early session songs like "Feel About You" and "Carnival Begin," which set the stage and standard for their cojoined album. "It was easy, with no melodramas, and just fun," McVie says with a sense of surprise in her voice as if melodrama were a default setting for anything involving the other members of Fleetwood Mac. "I don't know what about each particular song drove the rest of the recording, other than these songs gave us goose bumps. That's always a pretty great, intuitive sign."