On Wednesday, we reported here at PJ Media that Christine McVie, vocalist, keyboardist, and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac, passed away at age 79.
On his podcast this week, National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke said of McVie, “When I think of her, I think that she’s the least famous rock star in history.”
In a band that was full of stars and immense talents, McVie still made her presence known. Her solid keyboard playing, her smoky voice, and her solid songcraft churned out sparkling hits and glorious album cuts and helped bridge the gap between rock and pop for the band.
Not as flashy as fellow members Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, McVie was, as Cooke said, “the most normal member, the Paul McCartney of the band, the Michael Palin of the band.”
In appreciation of one of my all-time favorite voices in rock music, here are my five favorite Christine McVie songs, in no particular order.
“Everywhere” from Tango in the Night (1987)
At a time when youth-oriented music dominated pop radio, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect “grown-up” pop tune. “Everywhere” is a breezy expression of hopeful devotion, and McVie sings it as if it’s the story of her life.
Chevy tried to ruin it earlier this year by putting it in an electric vehicle ad that played all the time, but it’s hard not to smile when you hear a song as good as this one.
“You Make Loving Fun” from Rumours (1997)
It’s hard to pick just one Christine McVie track from one of rock’s most perfect albums of all time (as you’ll see later), but this top ten hit from Rumours is hard to pass up. A joyous romantic declaration, “You Make Loving Fun” also exemplifies the relational dysfunction that plagued the band and gave the album much of its material.
McVie wrote this one about her affair with the band’s lighting director, which seems particularly cruel when you think about the fact that her then-husband John played bass on the song and onstage beside her for years.
Still, it’s hard not to enjoy such a buoyant track.
“Got a Hold on Me” from Christine McVie (1984)
When I was 11 years old, I had a copy of McVie’s eponymous solo album on cassette and wore it out. I bought it again on Apple Music this week, and it’s still as wonderful as it was back then.
“Got a Hold on Me” from the album became her biggest solo hit, and it’s easy to see why it appealed to record buyers and listeners in pop, rock, and adult contemporary radio. Her melodic skills and clear voice are on display here in spades, and it still holds up as a terrific love song.
“Come a Little Bit Closer” from Heroes Are Hard to Find (1974)
I had to include one song from the pre-Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks era of Fleetwood Mac, and this gorgeous ballad fits the bill. It’s yet another example of McVie’s ability to craft an unforgettable love song, and the wall-of-sound production, including lush strings and plaintive pedal steel guitar, is the perfect accompaniment to her vocals.
“Oh Daddy” from Rumours (1977)
I promised another one from Rumours, and here you go! The classic album’s penultimate track is a haunting ballad that McVie claims she wrote in honor of Mick Fleetwood, although others claim that she wrote it about the lighting director with whom she was having an affair and later changed her story.
No matter who it’s for, “Oh Daddy” is a haunting acoustic rock ballad that puts her tender vocal performance front and center. It’s one of those tracks that stays with you long after the album side is over.
There will never be another voice like Christine McVie’s, and the world will surely miss her.