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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18, 1977

I'm very happy to welcome all of you to another exciting edition of the Tuesday Timeline. It's June 18 today, and the subject of today's blog will probably read more like a Sunday Jukebox entry. But, I don't think most of you will mind too much.

Truth be told, I was struggling to find a topic to talk about today that I DIDN'T already do!

Anyway, enough babbling on. Here's what happened throughout history on the eighteenth of June.

1429 – French forces lead by Joan of Arc defeat the main English army, which turns the tide of the Hundred Years War

1633 – Charles I is crowned King of Scots at St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

1767 – Samuel Wallis lands on the shores of Tahiti, making him widely believed to be the first European to visit the island nation

1812 – U.S. Congress declares war on the United Kingdom

1815 – The Battle of Waterloo results in the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Lebrecht von Blucher forcing him to abdicate the French throne

1858 – Charles Darwin makes the decision to publish his Theory of Evolution

1873 – Susan B. Anthony is fined one hundred dollars for trying to cast a vote in the 1872 Presidential Election

1923 – Checker Taxi puts its first taxi on the streets

1928 – Amelia Earhart becomes the first female passenger to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean

1965 – The United States uses B-52 bombers to attack National Liberation Front guerrilla fighters in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War

1972 – A plane crashes just two minutes after takeoff from London's Heathrow Airport, killing 118 people

1983 – Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman to go into outer space

1986 – American writer/journalist Francis Scott Fitzgerald dies in St. Paul, Minnesota at the age of 64

1996 – Theodore Kaczynski is indicted on ten criminal counts after being suspected of being the Unabomber

2000 – Actress Nancy Marchand passes away from cancer at the age of 71

2007 – Nine firefighters are killed in Charleston, South Carolina following the Charleston Sofa Super Store fire

2009 – The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is launched into space by NASA

Now that we have read about what happened throughout history on June 18, let's wish the following famous faces a happy June 18 birthday! Turning another year older are Jerome Karle, Jay Rockefeller, Paul McCartney, Linda Thorson, Carol Kane, Isabella Rossellini, Brian Benben, Andrea Evans, Alison Moyet, Kurt Browning, Robin Christopher, Kerry Butler, Ray LaMontagne, Blake Shelton, Chris Coghlan, Renee Olstead, Willa Holland, and Max Records.

Now comes the time where I will reveal the date that we will be looking back at. And, this time around, we're going back to the 1970s once more.



Today's date is June 18, 1977.

And, this is the song that topped the charts on this particular day in history.



ARTIST: Fleetwood Mac
SONG: Dreams
ALBUM: Rumours
DATE RELEASED: March 24, 1977
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS: #1 for 1 week

Yes, on June 18, 1977, “Dreams” became the first (and only) chart-topping hit for the band known as “Fleetwood Mac”. And, the song was written and recorded at a time in which the band members were all experiencing hardships of varying degrees.




You all know that at the time that “Rumours” was released, the band “Fleetwood Mac” was made up of five members. There was Lindsey Buckingham (vocals/guitar), Michael “Mick” Fleetwood (drums), Christine McVie (vocals/keyboards), John McVie (bass), and Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks (vocals). The band was founded in 1967, and Fleetwood is the only member of the original line-up (the others were Peter Green, Bob Brunning, and Jeremy Spencer). The husband/wife duo of John and Christine McVie joined not too long after the band was founded, with John joining the group in 1968, and Christine joining two years later. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks would join the group in 1975, and shortly after their arrival came the release of the band's second eponymous album in 1975. It was the band's tenth album overall, and the first album to have the most successful line-up of Fleetwood, McVie, McVie, Buckingham, and Nicks, and with songs such as “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me”. It was a modest effort that certainly helped establish a following in both America and the United Kingdom, as Fleetwood Mac had band members from both countries (the McVie's and Fleetwood were from the UK, while Buckingham and Nicks were American).

But nobody could have possibly predicted the success that the following album would bring to the band.




When “Rumours” was released in February 1977, it instantly propelled the band into superstar status. Several of the album's singles were released, and became instant hits, and to this day, the songs are continuously played on classic rock and retro music stations. The album sold a grand total of over forty-five million copies all over the globe, and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978. The album is easily considered to be Fleetwood Mac's best album, and is frequently listed on lists of the best albums that came out of the 1970s.

And, perhaps the biggest hit to come off of the “Rumours” album was “Dreams”. And, as I alluded to, the song was written at a time in which the band was experiencing some very personal problems.

First things first, the marriage between John and Christine McVie was on the rocks prior to the band recording the album, and the McVie's put the kibosh on their marriage after nearly eight years. The tension between the two former spouses was so great that they didn't even socialize together outside of the recording studio.

The McVie's marriage wasn't the only relationship to go belly-up either right around this time. The on-again, off-again, often tumultuous relationship between lovers Buckingham and Nicks was very much off by the time that “Rumours” was being recorded, and the two were often seen shouting at each other and getting into heated arguments. Though, to their credit, the fighting stopped while they collaborated together as songwriters for the project.

Not even Mick Fleetwood was safe from the emotional trauma of the other band members as he was enduring his own personal struggles himself following the discovery that his wife had had an affair with his best friend right around the time that “Rumours” was being recorded.

So, to say that you could cut the tension with a knife while the band was putting together tracks like “Dreams” in the recording studio was the biggest understatement of the decade. It must have taken every ounce of energy just for the band to remain civil with each other in what was a period of emotional breakdown, anger, and confusion.

And, yet, the band created some of their best music during this time period. Who would have thought it?

Well, on a personal note, I tend to write some of my best stuff when I am going through a period of emotional reflection or anger, so I can definitely relate to the songwriting process the members of Fleetwood Mac experienced during that time. Still, it had to be rough, and in an interview with Blender Magazine, Lindsey Buckingham described the recording process of the album as an exercise in emotional denial, adding that the band was constantly “keeping their personal feelings in one corner of the room while trying to be professional in the other”.

But, again, the band made some sweet music during that time. So, maybe emotional tension actually helped the band become more creative.




Certainly, that was the case when the song “Dreams” was written. The composition was penned by Stevie Nicks, who wrote it in the early months of 1976 in between recording sessions. In between one particular break in which Nicks was not required to be at the main studio, she took a Fender Rhodes piano into a studio that was allegedly the property of Sly (from Sly & The Family Stone), which was decked out in shades of red and black, complete with a black velvet bed. Nicks sat down on the bed, found a drum pattern that was already programmed into her keyboard, switched on a cassette player, and wrote “Dreams” in a time period of just ten minutes.

(I can't even write an entire blog entry in ten minutes!)

Anyway, after Nicks recorded “Dreams”, she played her composition to the rest of the band, and the very next day, they went to work recording the single.

However, not all the band members were on board with the idea of putting the song on the “Rumours” album initially, as Christine McVie had declared the song to be “boring”, as she could only hear three chords being played in Stevie's rough piano version. It took Lindsey Buckingham fashioning three sections out of identical chords to make what were seemingly the same chords sound quite different from each other to change McVie's mind.

And, it was probably a good thing, since the song became the band's only #1 hit on June 18, 1977!

Now, the song itself never really had an official promotional video attached to it. The idea of the music video was still fairly new in 1977, and they didn't really become popular until the founding of MTV in 1981. But the concert video of the band that was supplied as the video worked just as well, and it was because of “Dreams” that Fleetwood Mac were officially declared a contender on the charts.


And, that's what happened on June 18, 1977.

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