15 September 2010

Evolution of a Song: Lindsey Buckingham - Trouble

I love Lindsey Buckingham. Not only is Fleetwood Mac one of the greatest bands to see live - and they continue to get better - but the first concert I ever worked in my life was for one of Mr. Buckingham's solo tours and it will forever stick with me. I remember seeing him before soundcheck walking around the entire perimeter of the venue making sure the sound was right from every angle. As I walked past him, we made eye contact for a second and I wanted to say something but his glare was so intense that it scared me off. I heard rumblings about him being really mean and slightly offended that his tour wasn't going as well as he expected but seeing him in that moment alone made me feel like I understood him a little bit. He's a perfectionist and wants his craft to be taken seriously and get the acclaim it deserves. I'm not sure why to this day people don't mention his name when discussing the greatest guitarists of all time. He is a visionary.

There's really a lot about Lindsey Buckingham to love but specifically it's been his solo song "Trouble" off the 1981 album Law and Order that has caught my attention in the past two days. I was in a coffee shop yesterday feeling kind of down when this song came on and at first I couldn't even recall who the artist was. It took me at least a couple minutes to recognize the voice as the entire song is sung in a high falsetto style that doesn't sound anything like his Fleetwood Mac days. I don't know if the song made me feel better or worse but I can't get it out of my head.

After doing some research, I found that this is the only song on the entire Law and Order album in which Lindsey doesn't play bass or drums - only guitar and vocals. Mick Fleetwood was asked to do drums and when things soured in the studio, a continuous loop of a four second drum track was used instead. I would never have known. In a way, I do find this song to have an interesting sexual quality to it but it's also really eerie and sad. I've heard several people say that perhaps Lindsey Buckingham is a little over the top both in concert and vocally (maybe even lyrically) but what's a musician without a little bravado? Interestingly, I found several clips online of this song that show how very different sides of a song can come out depending on the presentation of it. I think it takes a great piece of music to work in two completely different ways.

Check it out for yourself.

Most recent live, acoustic version. I think this is Buckingham's best vocals of the song (and okay, I've also always had a bit of a crush on him in this older man state he's in now, it just works.)

A live 1992 performance where not only does he look completely different but he's just so much cheesier and the song sounds completely different.

The official recording (I loathe the beginning, it is corn central).

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