This was going to be a post about live music performances I’ve found on YouTube with immaculate vibes. Whether it’s Goo Goo Dolls performing “Iris” in the rain in 2004, or The Beatles performing “Yesterday” in 1965, where much of the crowd goes silent in awe after Paul McCartney starts playing

But one of the songs, “Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac, stood out to me the most, and I only noticed why when I listened to the studio version while driving in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

To preface, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge Fleetwood Mac fan. I didn’t listen through the entirety of Rumours until last year, even though “Dreams” has been something I’ve frequently listened to since I first saw The Nerdwriter’s video on the creation of the song in 2017.

It was from watching that video that I learned about the history between two of the band members, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. 

Following their breakup in 1976, the two wrote several songs about the split that made the album Rumours, released in 1977. Two years prior, Buckingham had been asked to join Fleetwood Mac as a guitarist, but wouldn’t do so unless Nicks could join as well.

Two of the songs written were wildly successful from the start. Nicks wrote “Dreams,” a song that’s had such longevity that it re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 in 2020, 43 years after its release. Buckingham wrote “Go Your Own Way,” a wildly successful song in its own right, topping out at number 10 on the weekly Billboard Hot 100.

“Silver Springs,” a song written by Nicks, didn’t make the final cut in the album. Instead, it was relegated to the B-side of “Go Your Own Way” when it was released as a single in 1976.

That was the version I put on while driving through Silver Spring, and while it was a nice listen, it didn’t have the same feeling as the live version I’d put on in the background on YouTube occasionally.

I went home and rewatched the version I had come across to see what was different. The performance, I later discovered, came from The Dance, an album the band recorded live in 1997. It was the first time Lindsey Buckingham had played with the group in a decade.

The beginning of the song is unassuming, aside from the giant fixture resembling an abstract mushroom. But, about two-and-a-half minutes in, the mood shifts. Nicks slowly turns to Buckingham after singing the lines “Time cast a spell on you, but you won’t forget me,” eyeing him down for the first time in the song.

After letting the instrumentals take over for a minute, Nicks returns to sing the chorus along with Buckingham. This time, Nicks and Buckingham fully turn to sing at each other.

Nicks looks as though she’s marching towards Buckingham with the microphone stand as her weapon of choice. Buckingham seems to use his guitar as a shield, leaning in and echoing Nicks’ lyrics. The two on stage aren’t just playing themselves as characters, with 20 years of baggage. 

The rest of The Dance is phenomenal. “Landslide” is entrancing and even causes Buckingham to break. “The Chain” is a fantastic opener, and foreshadows the staredowns from Nicks later in the concert. 

But “Silver Springs” stands out. Even without the knowledge of the history between the two, a passive viewer could feel the tension between Nicks and Buckingham. The pair leaning into this dynamic, coupled with Nicks singing lyrics like “I’ll follow you down ’til the sound of my voice will haunt you” at Buckingham 20 years after writing them creates an epic within a five-minute song.

After the release of The Dance in July of 1997, the song charted several lists and was nominated for a Grammy the next year. It appears that I’ve had the same reaction as others had, nearly 27 years after its re-release. 

Unlike most music, I feel like “Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac is a song that must be watched. The story is incomplete through an audio-only medium.

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