when the rain washes you clean, you'll know

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for so long that it starts to drive you insane? This happens to me every now and then, and for the past week the song has been “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.

I recently discovered Kiersten Holine on YouTube, and a couple weeks ago I spent an entire Saturday morning in bed, reading mental floss and listening to her cover of “Dreams” on repeat. But I think it really started in the cafe at work last week–I was eating a sandwich and reading Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman, and there’s a chapter where he writes about listening to Rumours, his favorite album of the 1970s:

Rumours was the best-selling studio album  of that decade and remains the sixth most successful record of all time, and I always love it when my own personal taste perfectly dovetails with that of mainstream-rock consumers from a bygone era; it’s like finding common ground with the bones in a graveyard.”

He writes about the “breaking up” themes on the album, since every single band member was splitting from their significant other around the time the album was written. It’s so bizarre to me that Fleetwood Mac ever managed to stay together as a band after Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks and Christine and John McVie both broke up. I can’t even have a conversation with most of my ex boyfriends, and I can’t imagine maintaining a professional relationship within the band in the midst of two inter-band breakups–and not only keeping the band together, but writing the best fucking album of the entire decade while all of this heartbreak is going down. It’s impressive, to say the least.

Beyond what I’ve read in Chuck Klosterman books, I don’t know that much about Fleetwood Mac or Rumours, but I’ve known “Dreams” for as long as I can remember. I knew that song before I had any idea who Fleetwood Mac was and before I knew anything about music. Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits album came out the same year I was born, and it was one of the albums my parents played constantly when I was growing up. I don’t remember particularly liking any of the songs as a kid, but they were all familiar and I can’t hear them now without thinking of my parents. There are a lot of classic rock songs that remind me of being barefoot in the house where I grew up, with the windows and sliding glass door open and the music drifting out into the summer evening from my dad’s stereo in the dining room.

It wasn’t until the past few years that I finally started to grasp the fact that I love classic rock. I ripped dozens of my dads CDs onto my computer and went into a classic-rock overload one summer, obsessively listening to “Take It Easy” by The Eagles and realizing how truly amazing bands like Fleetwood Mac and The Doobie Brothers are. Fleetwood Mac trickles in and out of my rotation, but after reading Chuck Klosterman’s spiel on Rumours I promptly burned a copy of their Greatest Hits and I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the past week and a half.

Even though I’ve always known the song, I don’t think I realized until this week that it’s probably one of my favorite songs of all time. Stevie’s voice is just perfect, and I love how amazingly classic the song sounds and feels to me, and how emotionally intense it is without being over-the-top emotional. I saw this live video of the song from 1977 for the first time today, and I can’t get over how intrigued I am by this performance. It’s amazing that Stevie’s voice is so effortlessly awesome-sounding even live, and how gorgeous are those heavy-lidded eyes surrounded by that absurd 1970s hair?

Lindsey Buckingham gives her a look around 2:16 that just crushes me. I don’t know what the status of their relationship was in 1977, but he’s definitely smiling at her like he’s still in love with her, and the fact that that moment was captured so perfectly on film makes this video awesome.

When I hear “Dreams” I think of the millions of times that I’ve heard my mom belt out the chorus to the song out of nowhere because it’s stuck in her head. I imagine her doing a little dance in the kitchen, with a cigarette burning in the ashtray on the countertop and a glass of beer in her hand. She’s tapping her foot to the unmistakable beat of the song, and I’m oblivious to how much those lyrics might have meant to her, and to how lucky I am that my parents passionately played good music from the 70s when I was growing up so that it became ingrained in the back of my mind forever.


One thought on “when the rain washes you clean, you'll know

  1. This is a really great blog post… Thanks! I love ‘Dreams’ too and didn’t know about the breakups going on in the Mac at the time Rumors was being recorded.

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