Fleetwood Mac

Image of concert like that of Fleetwood Mac concert attended by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley

My dad loves music. Growing up, he had these massive speakers in our living room, and when my mom was out of the house, he’d crank them up so high that the floor would shake. He loves classic rock, and so I spent my childhood listening to the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Eagles, among many others. As a kid, I didn’t fully appreciate that my dad was “cool” in this realm because, well, he was my dad. But I remember in the early days of my friendship with Shawn, he was impressed by my ability to sing along to every word of a number of classic rock karaoke hits without any notes in front of me.

Music was also one of the ways that Shawn and my dad connected. Every time they were together, they would spend hours talking about the greatest singer-songwriters, especially once my dad retired and would come and stay with us for weeks at a time. It was one of their favorite things to do, and sometimes when my dad was visiting, I’d catch them downstairs in the wee hours of the night debating the merits of a particular song or artist.

One of the groups they both loved was Fleetwood Mac. (Though I guess most people who love classic rock love Fleetwood Mac – how can you not?) So when my friend Abby texted me last week that she had an extra ticket to their concert, I couldn’t turn her down. If you’re following along with my blog, you’ll note that last week was particularly terrible for me and I almost didn’t go….but in the end, I decided that I was going to do something that I could actually enjoy.

I met up with Abby and two of her friends on a freezing Tuesday night in downtown DC. The crowd that waited outside the security line was diverse in terms of age, but I have to say I loved seeing the amount of gray hair entering the arena. “My dad should be here!” I said to Abby. (He was on vacation in Texas, so he couldn’t be.)

We got inside right as the concert started and Fleetwood Mac didn’t disappoint. They played all the hits. At one point, Abby looked over at me and said, “I don’t think I know this song,” and I said, “oh, I know every single word. My dad played this on repeat growing up.”

I could have said it about every song. I sang along with all the lyrics and felt as though I was ten years old again in my living room with the green carpet.

I had been hopeful that the night would be a distraction from my life – the one that was making me feel like I could barely get out of bed in the morning. But here’s the rub – Fleetwood Mac’s best album is all about the end of love. It’s called “Rumors” and though it came out before I was born, I grew up on it. Even if you don’t know Fleetwood Mac, you would recognize a number of songs from the album. At the time “Rumors” was recorded, the band was engaging in all sorts of unhealthy behavior, and seemingly everyone in the band was breaking up.

But it led to great music. And that night, I realized how much of it spoke to my pain. The second song on the Rumors album, “Dreams”, might be about a breakup, but the lyrics were everything I’ve felt over the past 14 months:

But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost, and what you had, and what you lost

I sang at the top of my lungs. It was cathartic. “I love this,” I said to Abby, and I wasn’t kidding. I was totally in the moment for the entire concert – a rarity in my life these days. The sadness that I constantly feel didn’t lift. But for a bit, the anxiety did.

Maybe one of the reasons I could be so in the moment is that the lead singer, Stevie Nicks, is just magical. In case you are not aware, she is SEVENTY, but she moves on that stage like someone 30 years younger. She’s one of those people who can pull you out of your head and into the music.

So when she sang “Landslide” I knew I was going to lose it. Because “Landslide” has the best chorus about love and loss, particularly the first two lines:

Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you

Abby put her arms around me. We sang every word though I could only choke out part of them due to the fact that I was crying so hard.

Because aren’t those lyrics exactly what the past 14 months have been for me? I built my life – my whole entire adult life – around Shawn. And once he was gone, it was impossible to imagine how I’d live without him.

And I was afraid of everything. But mostly, I was afraid of living without him.

I still am. In fact, I think this is what has been causing my deep anxiety that’s come up in recent weeks. I am afraid of being alone. I am afraid of what my life is without Shawn. I am afraid to change into something that he might not recognize.

I still get up every morning and face the world, and I only rarely have to leave work early to cry in the parking lot. I still snuggle my kids at night and I still manage to make dinner most days.

But I do it all with this fear of my new life boiling under the surface.

Maybe Stevie Nicks felt a certain kind of deep fear when she wrote her lyrics. Or maybe she was just high on cocaine. Either way, “Landslide” made me cry. Because I have been so afraid lately.

Fleetwood Mac ended the concert with “Don’t Stop.” I jumped up and down as they started to sing and I belted out the lyrics. And wow – those words spoke to me. Yes, the album (and this song in particular) was about a breakup. But damn if it didn’t feel exactly like the band wrote it for me as a bit of inspiration.

If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be, better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

It might not be better than before, but tomorrow is coming. And there’s no other option but to open my eyes and continue to face the days.

15 Replies to “Fleetwood Mac”

  1. The music of Fleetwood Mac has been in my blood since the 70s (I was 12 when Rumors came out) and I completely understand how you feel about the lyrics and the meanings they have in your life. I’m glad you were able to enjoy yourself that evening. Like you said, the sadness never went away, but for a little while the anxiety lessened. Baby steps. That’s all we can hope for. 🙂

    1. Exactly – one step at a time. Love Fleetwood Mac!

  2. Fleetwood Mac was the background music to my life when my husband and I were first married. His youngest daughter (age 14 going on 42) came to live with us and their songs were often heard blasting through our house. Stevie Nicks is around my age (I’m 71) and I thought she was so cool then. I guess she still is!

    1. She is! This is the music of my childhood and it’s stood the test of time.

  3. You know, I was going to comment on your last post that I don’t think you are “backsliding” but are experiencing the highs and lows and 3 steps forward, 2 steps back ( always knowing that you’ve still gained a step forward) typical of this adjustment I also was going to say that there’s really no way to go around it. You have to go through it. I think today’s post reflects your realization of that although you might not want to accept it yet. Year 2 seems to be when this begins to happen and we do accept it, hard and distasteful as it may be. You will change, but you know what? You and Shawn were changing all the time anyway. I know my husband and I weren’t the same people we were. Change is ok. Adapting is ok. Hating it is ok, too. You will get through this. And yes, Fleetwood Mac rocks.

    1. You’re exactly right – it’s uneven. I’m feeling a bit more contemplative now about my future, and I think getting to the point where I can accept this change, even if I don’t like it.

  4. Wow, that made me wake up. Talk about seven steps of distance or whatever it is. I have always loved Fleetwood Mac. I haven’t seen them live in many years due to raising children and working all over the world. But the weirdest thing is that Neil Finn is now touring with them. Neil Finn has been my music god since I was 17 and he was 19. I know Neil quite well as a fan. I enjoy personal messages from him and other lovely things like 31st May 2018, at the end of a concert in the Sydney Opera House, he ran over and reached for my hand and held it and said’ hi Di how are you?’. Of course I still almost fainted with shock and pleasure. And now many Fleetwood Mac fans get to enjoy him. Very small world. I am playing Rumours right now, and I fully understand the heartbreak of some of Stevie Nick’s lyrics. I am so glad that you went to see them. I’m also glad that you could sing, shout and cry to release some of the awful tension that you are enduring. My love to you from across the oceans x

    1. I love this! Tell Neil hi from a Fleetwood Fan next time you see him 😉

      For real, I love this story!

  5. This post touched my heart.

  6. Thanks again so much for this site and the way you honestly share your heart. I am a faithful reader, but have only commented once before. Still, I’m touched every time, so I wanted you to know that you are appreciated. I write my own blog (MovableAssets), which started as a light travel blog during all my adventures with my beloved (it has morphed a bit as my life has changed). The reason I mention it is I know how much I appreciate comments or friends emailing or telling me in person that my posts were meaningful for them. I know many people tell you that, but today I wanted to join that chorus of thanks and empathy. Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” was the soundtrack of my freshman year of college. I met and married David two years later. Yes, I married young and fast, but miraculously, it was not a disaster. It was amazing and getting better all the time when wretched cancer struck. I’m also at 14 months, but we had 39 married years, 39.5 together, and our three daughters are adults. I’m actually doing better in year two at the moment, with a few dramatic, memorable meltdowns, so I’m a bit apprehensive of the prevalent prediction that year two will be worse. So far, that is not true for me, but I did also have 16 months of very tender time saying goodbye, so maybe that helped. Who knows? I know no one’s situation is the same as anyone else’s, but I can say one of the things that has helped me the most is doing all the things David always encouraged me to spend more time on–writing, piano, painting, photography, anything creative, really–but I was having too much fun just hanging out with him to really do. I can feel him smiling when I write a piece of music or write a blog post that touches others. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks again. I believe Shawn is beaming that you are using your gifts and talents to touch so many others in profound ways, even on your hardest days. Sorry so verbose! You and your dear ones are in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. Yes, I agree. Shawn didn’t want me to die with him – that was really important to him. He wanted me to live joyfully with my kids, laugh with my friends, and find love again. Some days when I’m super down I think about how sad HE would be to see me this way. It’s one of the things that’s most likely to make me keep moving forward.

  7. This may be strange to hear, but I am not a widow and yet I find a lot of comfort in your blog. I’m studying very far from home in Europe, but I’m originally from an area pretty close to DC. I actually have no idea now how I stumbled upon your blog. I am coping with emerging mental health issues (heavy anxiety, depression) while trying to work on a Masters thesis and feeling like I am in the wrong track in life. This doesn’t relate at all to what you are going through, but I find comfort in knowing that if you can get through something so much more difficult, then I should be able to as well.

    1. I love this comment so much. It makes me feel like what I’m doing (my daughter calls it “putting your diary on the internet for everyone to read!”) really MEANS something.

      I think we all survive our own horrors – there’s no real way to compare the difficulties, but to keep going is BRAVE. You are BRAVE, remember that.

  8. As I lie in the bath googling bereaved partner blogs (list my wife 4 months ago) I stumbled upon your blog via your dad and breakfast post.

    I read this and am jealous? having never seen Fleetwood Mac.

    I only became sad is I read others’ comments and I cried. My 13 year old daughter came into the bathroom and said “what are you reading in your phone dad? Don’t read it if it makes you sad.”

    She has aspergers and hadn’t cried at all, hardly, so I said you have to let it out.”

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    1. Thanks. I too love reading others’ comments – it’s one of the best parts about writing this blog.

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