She Came From Cumbria and Was Perfect: RIP Christine McVie

I was saddened to hear of the death of Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie last week. I’m a bit late with this tribute now, but as I’ve mentioned around here before, if I drew a graph of all the songs I’ve revisited by year of release, the peak would land at 1977, as that seems to have been the year when most purchases were made, and the most listening was done. Put it down to the fact I was still at school so other than the annual diet of exams to sit I had few other distractions to get in the way of hanging out with friends, and listening to music. It was inevitable therefore I would have a copy of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac’s multi-platinum selling album from 1977, which held the top spot on the US charts for a staggering 31 weeks.

It wasn’t a given that I would ever have owned that album, as they were not a band I followed, but its status meant it would find its way into my metaphorical Christmas stocking (vinyl not a good fit for such receptacles). At the time, I didn’t know much about the background to the making of the album – the breakdown of the romantic relationships within the band – as we just didn’t have access to such intimate knowledge back then. Looking at the track listing now however, I realise that the band member with the most songwriting credits on Rumours was Christine McVie. She mined a rich seam of inspiration when writing about her split with founding band member John McVie. Christine was probably also the best singer in the band, and an accomplished keyboard player, but back then I didn’t really attribute specific songs to individual band members so am stupidly only realising this now.

Here she is singing You Make Loving Fun from Rumours, a song about her new boyfriend apparently, the band’s lighting engineer (although his tenure in that post was understandably short-lived).

You Make Loving Fun by Fleetwood Mac:


When reading of her death I was surprised to learn she was aged 79. Somehow I always think of that generation of musician to have been a contemporary of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and others of that ilk who first found fame in the early 1960s. But of course Christine wasn’t always attached to Fleetwood Mac. Before her marriage to John McVie she was Christine Perfect (what a great name) and had been a member of several bands on the mid-1960s British Blues scene, notably Chicken Shack.

After helping them out as a session player for a couple of years, Christine formally joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970. A big change in personnel came about in 1974 when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band – this seems to have been the spark that propelled them to stratospheric success. It must have been tough for the older Christine to have another woman join the band, especially the young and striking Stevie, but from all accounts it caused no issues at all, which says a lot about her professionalism and dedication to the band’s success.

Here is another of her songs from Rumours, Songbird. It was a bit of an obvious and lazy choice for inclusion, when journalists wrote about her death last week, but having listened to it again several times it really is a beautiful song that showcases her talent as both a songwriter and singer, so I have no qualms about sharing it here too.

Songbird by Fleetwood Mac:


Before I go I just want to share an interesting phenomenon. I was having a late night text message exchange with DD recently, and the subject of favourite bands came up. I told her mine and she told me the three she currently liked listening to best. The first two were contemporary and expected, but the third surprised me as it was Fleetwood Mac! The younger generation have become exposed to the music of Fleetwood Mac via Stevie Nicks who has appeared as herself on one of the really successful Netflix dramas, American Horror Story. I was also up in the loft yesterday and found a box containing all sorts of ephemera DD has left behind, which will need sorting out at some point, but what surprised me was that there was a canvas where she had made a picture using the Rumours album cover. It just goes to show, with streaming services like Spotify now being the vehicle used for listening to music, albums from 45 years ago can become contemporary favourites again with the young. Didn’t see that coming when I first listened to it back in 1977. Also good to know that the beautiful singing voice of Christine McVie, will live on for subsequent generations.


Until next time… RIP Christine McVie.

Songbird Lyrics
(Song by Christine McVie)

For you, there’ll be no more crying
For you, the sun will be shining
And I feel that when I’m with you
It’s alright, I know it’s right

To you, I’ll give the world
To you, I’ll never be cold
‘Cause I feel that when I’m with you
It’s alright, I know it’s right

And the songbirds are singing
Like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before

And I wish you all the love in the world
But most of all, I wish it from myself

And the songbirds keep singing
Like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before
Like never before
Like never before

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “She Came From Cumbria and Was Perfect: RIP Christine McVie”

    1. There was a charity record put out many years ago by a group called Chicken Shed and for a long time I confused them with Chicken Shack – have got it now though. How great that you got to see them and a young Christine Perfect. She should have kept that name and never changed it when she married McVie.

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  1. I saw Fleetwood Mac once, a few years ago, the last tour by the Rumours line-up. One of the most expensive concerts I attended. They played the hits, but that is what the audience, and I as part of it, wanted to hear. It was a perfect show.

    1977 also saw the release of Jethro Tull‘s Songs from the Wood, Rush‘s A Farewell to Kings, and Pink Floyd‘s Animals (far from my favourite Floyd album; the other 1977 records are some of the best, not just by those bands but by any bands).

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    1. Sorry Philip this comment seemed to end up in the spam folder so just found it.

      Wow bet that really was an expensive one! You are right though, the audience would have wanted to hear those songs and now that line-up can never happen again. Sad.

      1977 was a great year for albums. Luckily we often hung out in houses where older brothers had a much bigger album collection. And of course a lot of taping onto cassette! Naughty, but everyone did it.

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    1. They certainly did create something quite exceptional. Some of the songs are just too familiar now though – The Chain was used as the theme to Formula 1 Racing on TV for years so I now associate it more with motorsport!

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  2. I read something recently which described her as the sensible one in the band. Not much competition to be fair.
    Another legend gone – there is a bit of a run at the moment . A sad loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does sound that way doesn’t it but as you say not much competition. Mick Fleetwood never looks as if he fits the band but then again it changed so much from that first incarnation.

      Yes, many losses, and it will continue… We’re at that age when it will get ever more frequent.

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    1. I’d forgotten and was lazy so just asked her again. Apparently it’s The Lumineers and The 1975, one of whom has appeared around here many years ago. When I was her age in 1987 all my favourite bands came from Scotland – our purple patch.

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  3. I find it really interesting, and heartwarming, that DD would name such an ‘old’ band as one of her favourites. I love the fact that so many younger people don’t have that prejudice against music from previous decades – I know a few of us embraced older music at various times in our youth but it was perhaps not so commonplace and more specific, whereas now there is so much access to everything it has opened everything up and that’s one good thing at least!
    I’d also recommend the two documentaries that Graeme has mentioned (Christine comes across particularly well) – you know I love a good music documentary even if I’m not the biggest fan of the music, it’s the people, the stories, the fallouts, and, often, the madness of the music world and FM certainly had more than their fair share of that. I’ve no idea how they managed to keep performing/creating with all their entangled relationships, quite the soap opera – but somehow they did!

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    1. It is quite fascinating isn’t it how bands from so long ago can still be popular with younger generations today. In this case I think it’s the Stevie Nicks effect (as opposed to the Christine effect) and I now get why one of DD’s festival outfits was a diaphanous black layered skirt and a black hat. Couldn’t have happened in our day as music from the 1930s wouldn’t really have done it for us. Once colour telly came along and a reasonable level of resolution, bands would no longer look as if they came from the dark ages and what with the clothes and the kind of music they played many of them still seem timeless.

      I too love a good music doc and I may have seen the FM ones in the past but probably a long time ago so will definitely seek them out. What a soap opera within that band as you say. Makes what goes on nowadays seem tame by comparison.

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  4. I was sad to hear about Christine McVie’s death, as she always struck me as very down-to-earth and unassuming, as well as extremely talented. I was vaguely aware of Rumours when it came out, but Fleetwood Mac weren’t on anyone’s list of favourite bands in my sixth form. It wasn’t until the following year that I got to know the songs on Rumours, when one of new university friends seemed to put the album on every time a group of us gathered in his room for coffee. It was then that I realised what a beautiful voice Christine McVie had. Like you, I didn’t appreciate at the time that she was also a great songwriter. My friend’s favourite song was You Make Loving Fun, but being a man, he was also interested in what she and Stevie Nicks looked like – he thought Christine was better looking!

    All the surviving members of the Rumours-era version of Fleetwood Mac must be in their mid-70s now. It’s amazing how many musicians from their era are still around – and in reasonable shape – despite decades of sex and drugs (and alcohol) and rock ‘n’ roll!

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    1. Yes, it certainly wasn’t a given that I would own a copy of Rumours as that was the year a very different kind of music was finding favour in our 6th Year Common Room but when I ended up with two of the same album as a present (I can’t even admit to what that was) one was changed for Rumours, it being such a big selling albums. I always took a keen interest in chart music around that time and looking back none of the singles from Rumours made it very far up the charts but then it was all about the album.

      We knew so little back then about the back story to the making of albums, and didn’t know much about the personal lives of band members – knowing what I know now, I have no idea how they did it. Also as you say, there was a gargantuan use of drugs and alcohol during the making of the album and right through the 70s so goodness knows how they all made it to their mid/late 70s. The body can do amazing things to heal itself and renew internal organs it seems – if you are one of the lucky ones who made it through the hedonistic period (unlike those in the ’27 Club’) you might well have a very long life.

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