For some fans, longevity indicates a level of success for a band. Others measure it by a group’s catalog of music. Most agree that a hit song or two will improve an act’s overall stature.
Fleetwood Mac is a band that can claim all three. Starting as a blues-oriented band in 1967, this rock band continues as an entity today. During that time, Fleetwood Mac has recorded 17 albums.
Many of these recordings did well, including one of the best-selling albums of all-time, 1977’s Rumours. That album alone produced four Top-10 singles, all of which make the “20 Best Fleetwood Mac Songs” list below.
One of Fleetwood Mac’s first hits in the states was one of the last contributions from the band’s legendary guitarist, Peter Green. It hit the streets in 1969 as a two-sided single and on reissues of the album “Then Play On.”
The song has Part 1 and Part 2, the former being a staple for the band over the years. Fans cite it as an early crossover between blues and heavy metal.
The song remains Fleetwood Mac’s only number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart. Listeners will feel transported by this soft instruments-only tune that harkens back to the instrumental hits of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
It was written by guitarist/vocalist Peter Green and served as inspiration for the Beatles‘ “Sun King” the following year on “Abbey Road.”
1977’s “Rumours” is one of the top-10 selling albums in history. Lindsey wrote and sung this hit. It is the first single for “Rumours,” released in December of 1976.
The song has remained a staple of live shows and gains inspiration from the disintegrating relationship between Buckingham and Nicks.
1987’s “Tango In The Night” would be the last album to contain several hits for the band. This song was the third single and one of four top-20 hits.
It showcases the band’s pop-oriented sound at the time, and “Little Lies” embraces the ’80s music scene. From Christine McVie’s vocals to dominating synthesizers, there is no doubt what decade they released this.
1977’s “Rumours” gave the band four top-selling singles, including this number one hit from Stevie Nicks. It was released as the second single and is a favorite among fans to this day.
It offers soft contrast to other songs on the album that are harder-hitting. Stevie sights the end of her relationship with Buckingham, the McVie’s separation, and Mick Fleetwood’s divorce as inspiration.
6. Gypsy (1982)
Fleetwood Mac began the 1980s off with “Mirage” (1982) after three members released solo albums the year before. It contained more familiar sounds and song formula than “Tusk.”
Gypsy is an example, providing a vehicle for Nicks to captivate the audience while reflecting on her life before fame. She found it emotionally hard to perform live, as it is also a dedication to her deceased friend and speech therapist.
Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band before the recording “Fleetwood Mac (1975).” It produced several hits and introduced the most formidable line-up in the band’s history.
Inspired by a character in a novel, listeners discover Stevie’s hauntingly beautiful voice with this hit. It was a favorite for everyone, and live performances of the song in the ’70s included theatrics and some of Stevie Nick’s best vocal performances.
8. Tusk (1979)
This song highlights the high-production and experimentation found on 1979’s “Tusk” album. The drums from Mick Fleetwood drive this song. It also displays vocal sounds that go from soft chanting to angry yells.
Lindsey Buckingham sings lead, with Christine and Stevie backing him. Lindsey might be the first musician credited with playing a Kleenex box, too!
One of the most inspirational and often used songs from “Rumours (1977)” is this upbeat tune sung by Lindsey Buckingham. Christine McVie wrote it and sang backup vocals.
It was the third single from the album, and it reached number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. The pop hit is a fan favorite that sees use in various advertisements and political campaigns.
Fleetwood Mac’s second eponymous album introduced music fans to the talents of Buckingham and Nicks. It also showcased the talent of established members, like this song from Christine McVie.
The tune sprang from Christine’s marriage to bassist John McVie. By this time, Fleetwood Mac had transitioned from a blues band to the soft rock entity that would dominate the last half of the 1970s.
11. The Chain (1977)
All five members of the group collaborated to write “The Chain.” The song actually came from a bridge that Lindsey Buckingham had written.
It was almost discarded, but, once Buckingham heard John McVie’s bass line over Mick Fleetwood’s pounding bass drum, he wrote the verses to go with the powerful bridge.
12. Landslide (1975)
Stevie Nicks was only twenty-seven when she penned “Landslide.” She told Rolling Stone magazine that a person could feel really old at 27. Nicks actually wrote the song before she’d ever joined Fleetwood Mac.
“Landslide” was written at a time when she and Buckingham were living in Los Angeles and she was waiting tables to make ends meet. The song has been redone by multiple artists, and it remains a fan favorite.
“Everywhere” is the fourth single from the 1987 “comeback” album, Tango in the Night. Christine McVie sang lead on this fan favorite. It is also the last Fleetwood Mac song to hit the American Top 20.
When the song was being recorded, Stevie Nicks’ vocals were initially on the song. Nicks had been on a solo tour plus she’d spent some time in the Betty Ford Center. Eventually, her vocals were added, and Nicks’ anger subsided.
This hit from 1987 was written by Sandy Stewart, who often collaborated with Stevie Nicks. It is one of the only Fleetwood Mac hits not at least co-written by one of the members of the band.
Nicks pitched the song to fellow band members, and she made one “mistake” that ended up staying in the song.
The phrase “all the way down to Emmaline” was an instance of Stevie mis-hearing what Stewart had written, but the band liked it so much that the phrase stuck as Stevie sang it on the demo.
Again, this is one of many Fleetwood Mac hits that came about due to relationships in the band. Christine wrote the song when she began to fall out of love with her husband John, who had issues with alcoholism.
Christine told John that the song was about their dog, but it was actually about her relationship with the lighting director, Curry Grant.
“Gold Dust Woman” took between twenty and thirty takes in order to get it just right. The song hints about a sexual addiction as well as a drug rush. Nicks is said to often sang her parts on the song at night with a shawl wrapped around herself.
Any time Stevie performs the song live, she adds a bit of interpretive dance to the performance: “It’s me being some of the drug addicts I knew, and probably being myself too.”
Christine McVie has said that it reflects the drug use of other members of the band as well: “We were dancing on the edge for years.”
17. Sara (1979)
Although “Sara” was released in 1979, it was the band’s first hit of the 80s.
Stevie Nicks has said that the song was inspired by a baby that she decided not to have (the baby’s father was Don Henley of The Eagles).
Nicks says that the song is also named in part after Mic Fleetwood’s wife, Sara.
Stevie Nicks penned this song of unrequited love after being inspired by a road sign while on tour. The song was also inspired by her romance with Lindsey Buckingham.
She told producer Ken Caillat, “As far away as Lindsey goes from me, he’ll never get away from the sound of my voice.”
The song was originally ten minutes long and was dropped from Rumours. However, a live version of the song was incredibly popular and nominated for a Grammy.
“Second Hand News” is a tune from the Rumours album. Originally, this was an instrumental tune and it was originally named “Strummer.”
Lindsey Buckingham was influenced by a Bee Gees song, and sought to give a bit of a disco sound to the tune. There’s even a part of the song where Buckingham is pounding on a Naugahyde chair in the studio.
20. Songbird (1977)
Christine McVie wrote this beautiful ballad in a mere thirty minutes. She has said in the past, “(it was) almost as if it was coming from someone else and not me.”
This was the “B side” to “Dreams.” John McVie admits to having difficulty playing and listening to the the song. McVie has said the song made “grown men . . .weep. I did every night.”