“Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom/ Well, who am I to keep you down?”
An appropriate sentiment for the hit single from what could be the most romantically fraught album of all time. You know the story. While recording Rumours, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham were in the middle of one of their semiregular breakups. Husband-and-wife duo John and Christine McVie were well on their way to divorce. And through all that (or because of it, some might say), they managed to record one of the best-selling albums ever.
It’s easy to brush aside Fleetwood Mac as simple masters of soft rock. But then you actually listen to the songs instead of remembering all the times you heard them on your local classic rock radio station, and you understand the band’s greatness. The best Fleetwood Mac songs are the most direct and unadorned. Take “Dreams.” The steady, subtle drum and bass lines that open the song, the warbling guitar lines and Stevie Nicks’ gorgeously weary voice: there’s nothing about “Dreams” that doesn’t work, nothing in it that doesn’t belong. It’s the song of a person who wakes up on a Sunday morning after a lovers’ quarrel, angry and sad and clear-eyed. Yes, “Dreams” is the height of soft rock. It’s quiet and tempestuous and cuts straight to the heart.
(Browse the All-TIME 100 Songs and more than 100 other pop culture lists on TIME’s Populist iPad app)
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