How Fleetwood Mac Mixed Tradition and Technology on ‘Everywhere’
If it were up to Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac's '80s may have sounded simpler. "I tend to like the traditional sound," she told Rolling Stone in 1984. "Three-part harmonies, guitar and piano. I mean, a well-played guitar is a joy forever."
But Lindsey Buckingham had a slightly different idea for much of the music the band released during the decade, particularly 1987's Tango in the Night, an album that featured Buckingham's new favorite toy, a Fairlight CMI synthesizer. The glittery sound that opens McVie's "Everywhere," the only song on the LP to be credited solely to the keyboardist, is a result of the instrument.
Buckingham was also experimenting with new recording techniques, sometimes playing tapes at half speed or double speed to create an artificial sound that couldn't be easily replicated. ("Everywhere"'s intro includes recordings of acoustic and electric guitars at half speed.) "That's part of what makes this [album sound] open and airy, too," Greg Droman, who engineered Tango in the Night, recalled to Salon in 2017. "When you record something really slow and you speed it up, all the harmonics get shifted up. You end up with this high end, this tinkly little high end, that wouldn't exist [otherwise]. There's not another way you could get that, at least back then."
This willingness to push the boundaries of tape technique, along with heavy use of the Fairlight, had a downside, as Buckingham's co-producer, Richard Dashut, noted. "I loved, sonically, what it was doing. But I started to miss the old live feeling of the band," he said. "I think the Fairlight started replacing some of that human touch, some of the other band members. Lindsey was able to do a lot more on his own and control it a lot more artistically."
That Buckingham was in control for most of Tango in the Night's recording made sense, because the album started life as a Buckingham solo project. It slowly turned into a band record as members became involved. Even though the band wasn't necessarily working together much of the time, it doesn't mean work wasn't getting done. "It’s hard to explain our relationship sometimes,” Buckingham told the Los Angeles Times in June 1987, two months after the LP's release.
"There is a strong, almost psychic bond, but we are not even really friends [in the sense] that we spend a lot of time together. Mostly, we are a group of individuals who happen to sort of play well together. We aren't even all in the studio at the same time. The only time we are a real band is onstage."
Even when it came to Buckingham taking the reins on her song, McVie had faith in his ability. "It's just sort of a natural leadership. He spends all his time in the studio, and frankly, someone has to do it," she said. "It's not like we all sit around and say, 'Yes, Lindsey, no, Lindsey.' We have input. I could [veto] things he does to my songs, but he is very good at his craft."
Watch Fleetwood Mac's 'Everywhere' Video
McVie's "Everywhere" is, at its core, a love song. McVie had recently married her second husband, keyboardist and songwriter Eddy Quintela, who had a couple of co-writing credits on Tango in the Night. In "Everywhere," McVie expresses happiness with this new chapter in her life: "You know that I'm falling, and I don't know what to say."
Nobody in Fleetwood Mac appeared in the video for "Everywhere," which was released in November 1987 as the album's fourth single. Instead, the clip is based on Alfred Noyes' 1906 poem "The Highwayman," which tells a story of two lovers who are in death: "Look for me by moonlight, watch for me by moonlight / I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!"
In the end, McVie found Buckingham's recording technique to be just the right touch for her simple love song, recalling in the 2019 documentary Fleetwood Mac's Songbird – Christine McVie the moment Buckingham showed her how the song's intro would come together. "He slowed the tape down, really slowly, and played the parts slowly," she said. "And then when it came to the right speed, it sounded bloody amazing."