cureforbedbugs asked: What are some of your fondest memories of being a teenage Fleetwood Mac fan?
I think I miss the culture of it, mostly. Which was the culture of a certain time, too — we hung out on Usenet! The wars between the message boards! There was this guy who was like the Frank Kogan of Mac fandom, and he had all these stories about bootlegging concerts from the parking lot behind the stage when he was a kid in Southern California in the ’70s — and I think at one point before the wars he invited me to join the bad board, which was kind of a badge of honor, particularly as a Stevie Nicks fan, particularly as a female Stevie Nicks fan, since we were basically what the bad board was designed to destroy. There was a sexist aspect that I didn’t pick up on as a kid, or I picked up on it but I accepted it, where a bunch of adult males created a hierarchy of what was cool, what was smart, what was better, and at the top was them and the things they liked, and at the bottom was young women, and the things young women wanted to talk about. Stevie was the least cool thing you could like. (So of course I loved her like my life depended on it. I loved her like her life depended on it.)
But there was a culture beyond that, the things handed down from fan to fan. All the little legends — the things someone once said Lindsey once said to Stevie, the story about him slapping her, whether it was true. Whether we could trust Mick Fleetwood. The fight over “Silver Springs.” The fight over “Go Your Own Way.” The fight over “Tusk.” The fight over Tusk. Every concert ending with “Songbird.” Mick’s balls, and John’s tattoo, and who “Sara” and “Caroline” were about. And all the things we traded — the Rosebud documentary, the Tusk documentary, the Almanac demos, and there was a recording of Stevie saying this, and there was a video of Lindsey doing that, and after a while you knew it so well you felt like you were born with it, born knowing the stories and the symbols and the traditions and what was classic and what was rare and what was valuable.
There’s this part in every Stevie show — at the end of “Edge of Seventeen,” I think? God, it’s basically sacrilege for me not to remember — where she goes to the edge of the stage and shakes hands and hugs and takes the gifts from all the fans standing there. And people know that this happens, and after the opening night of every tour they memorize the set list so they know what song comes before “Edge of Seventeen,” and at every show there’s this moment where, as if they’ve all received some secret sign, people start going to the stage.
The first time I saw Stevie live, my first concert ever, the night before my first high school exam ever, which was scheduled for 8:10 the next morning and which I aced thankyouverymuch, I was too scared to go to the front — what if the guards caught me and I got in trouble, what if my parents thought I was weird? A few years later, I saw her again with my two best friends, but we had bad seats, and security wouldn’t let people from our section go down to the front, which was a total fucking outrage, as far as everyone in our section was concerned, because going down to the front was tradition, going down to the front was sacred, going down to the front was something Stevie herself wanted us to do. (There’s this recording that’s another legend among Stevie fans — you hear about it apocryphally, at first, and finally someone passes it along to you to hear for yourself — from an ‘89 concert where security wouldn’t let her fans up to the front, and she goes on this druggy rant dedicating some song to the audience and in the middle of it she switches gears and growls at security, “You fuck with my people and I’m gonna get real fuckin’ angry.”) The third time I saw her, I was about to graduate from high school, and as an early gift my parents let me use their credit card to buy tickets off one of those scalper sites. I got third row, like real third row, like down in the folding chairs they set up in the orchestra pit, in front of the permanent seats, and that time, when it was time to go to the front, I went.
I got a little bit crushed, because I wasn’t even five feet tall yet, but a few fans made a bubble around me, and security let me step up on some bit of the rigging under the stage so I was head and shoulders above most of the crowd and I could breathe, up in the glowing gold of the stage, out of the darkness — for some reason I remember the set being very bright and very gold during that tour, maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t, and I remember I turned around at one point too, looked out over the thousands of people there, the faces, the lighters, the hands up and waving, and told myself to memorize it, to never forget that this was a thing I had seen in real life. People shouted for Stevie to come over, and teddy bears and flowers and envelopes with her handwritten name on them were flying over our heads, people from the rows behind us were throwing them toward the stage, and Stevie almost got hit in the face by a teddy bear, and she thought it was just the funniest thing, and we thought it was just the funniest thing, and we all laughed together, but security was less impressed, so people started passing their gifts up to the stage instead, hand to hand, and every time I got one I slid it across the stage at the guys in charge of collecting them. A woman a row or two back tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could grab her daughter and let her stand up on the rigging next to me, and of course I could, and I pulled her up and helped her get her footing, and then we all started shouting for Stevie to come over for this girl too. And she didn’t come all the way over to our side of the stage, so we didn’t get any hugs, but we got a smile and a wave, and that was good enough.
I don’t know if that happens anymore. I don’t know if any of it happens anymore. I got into Eurythmics sort of the same way I got into Fleetwood Mac, except I did it ten years later, and it was such a solitary experience, because there was Wikipedia, and there was YouTube, and there was the whole Internet, much bigger than before. I imagine it would have been the same if it were Fleetwood Mac I was discovering. Nothing needs to be passed down. You don’t need to ask anyone for anything anymore. I was watching the Tusk documentary on YouTube a while ago, and there was this comment like, “Remember how hard it used to be to find a copy of this?” I do. I remember it wasn’t something you would see, wasn’t something you would even think existed, until you knew Fleetwood Mac so well it was like an instinct. Just this morning, just clicking around YouTube, I saw more stuff than I did in the six years I spent basically breathing that band. But maybe the culture is still there. Maybe it’s me that changed.
A year or so ago, I heard Stevie was doing a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. It was on my way home from work, so I went, but I knew there would be a line around the block by the time I got there, people camped out, people who cared more than I did now, people who deserved to meet her more than I did now. Which was exactly what happened. I didn’t even bother trying to get a ticket up to the floor where the signing was happening, because even if I could, what would I say? You know? In the ten seconds it took her to sign an album, what could I possibly say? I couldn’t make myself walk away, though, so I went to the next floor down, where I could hear the cheering, where I could hear people laugh when she said something funny, and I got an iced coffee, and I sat on the floor in the magazine section while I drank it, and then I left.