Music History: Fleetwood Mac reaches No. 1 with “Dreams”

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The legendary status of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” album is undeniable. From that album, in 1977, came the single, “Dreams.” The song’s ethereal, yet rock-oriented feel coupled with Stevie Nicks’ voice singing lyrics filled with wisdom and confidence, all add up to the endurability of “Dreams.”

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac

“Dreams” became the only Fleetwood Mac song to reach No. 1 on US charts. The song went to No 24 in the UK. Even among people who are not necessarily rock fans, the wisdom of the song rings through. Lines like “Players only love you when they’re playing,” would come to be used by Post Malone and Crazy Town. The simplicity of the idea is brilliantly put, and people can understand it without too much analysis.

The song is almost gentle, but it is persistent, and builds up to the strength of the chorus through the poetic and sage lyrics of Stevie Nicks. According to thisdayinmusic.com, Nicks claims to have written the song in “10 minutes at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California.”

There is beauty and brutality in the lyrics presented in Nicks’ raspy voice. The details of the lyrics reveal a breakup. The narrator seems to have no interest in stopping her significant other from leaving. “Well, here you go again/you say you want your freedom/well, who am I to keep you down?” The tone is resigned, but also aggrieved. The chorus, “Thunder always happens when it’s raining/players only love you/when they’re playing…” is legendary on its own.

The “Rumors” album was full of songs about relationships. And “Dreams” fit right in. The sometimes problematic nature of romantic entanglements made the album resonate with a wide spectrum of audiences and played up Fleetwood Mac’s ability to capture a natural aspect of human experience.

That “Dreams” was Fleetwood Mac’s only No.1 hit does not detract from the band’s legacy. The band, or its members as solo artists, has continued to garner attention from new generations of fans.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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