To casual Fleetwood Mac listeners, the band is Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and everybody else.
But the contributions of Christine McVie (not to mention co-founder Mick Fleetwood and mainstay John McVie) are so acutely integrated into the band’s sound that it’s impossible to envision a Christine-free Mac.
McVie died Wednesday at age 79.
Her silky vocals – so perfectly complemented by Nicks’ intense warble – and keyboards added a soft touch to a band initially submerged in blues rock and helped remodel Fleetwood Mac into a powerhouse pop-rock outfit in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
When McVie, who often eschewed the spotlight, did step into it, she offered precise melodies and straightforward lyrics.
Here are five of her best contributions to the Fleetwood Mac canon.
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Putting aside the song’s renewed ubiquity, thanks to its use in a Chevrolet car commercial (McVie sold her song catalog in 2021 to Hipgnosis, the London-based company that invests in music catalogs), it’s still a delight.
The lighthearted sound – those tinkling keyboards, bouncy backbeat and soaring chorus – playfully skips along with lyrics that are deceptively simple in their declaration (“You know that I'm falling and I don't know what to say … I want to be with you everywhere”). That the song hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales chart in October is testament to its generational pull.
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'Hold Me’ (1982)
Sharing lead vocals with Buckingham, McVie offers a come-hither alternative to Buckingham’s bitterness – you can nearly hear him spit the “I’m the fool paying the dues” line – while Nicks’ contributions on the chorus showcase the magic of Mac. Buckingham’s singsong guitar solo is also a memorable beauty.
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‘You Make Loving Fun’ (1977)
A rubbery groove leads into the succinct opening, “Sweet wonderful you/ You make me happy with the things you do,” and from there, listeners are engaged in this swoony tale of a woman who has discovered – or at least thinks she has – the kind of love that conjures images of rainbows and sunshine. The song was inspired by McVie’s affair with Fleetwood Mac’s lighting director at the time. To mitigate awkwardness while touring, McVie reportedly told John McVie it was about her dog.
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‘Don’t Stop’ (1977)
Famously co-opted by Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign, the anthem of hopefulness with its message of “yesterday’s gone” – which McVie says she wrote after separating from John McVie – continues to be played at political rallies and graduations. McVie shares lead vocals with Buckingham again, and over a chugging rhythm, both urgently push the lesson that tomorrow “will be better than before.”
Considered McVie’s signature for good reason, the piano ballad is striking and sparse in its beauty. Her voice pure and faultless as she sings what is part heartbreaking farewell (“I wish you all the love in the world”) and romantic paean (“And the songbirds are singing, like they know the score”). Fleetwood Mac typically stationed McVie in the spotlight at the end of their concerts to leave the audience with this unpretentious creation of musical magic.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Christine McVie's 5 best songs with Fleetwood Mac
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