Lindsey Buckingham, Still Stylin'

Rob Hochschild
November 14, 2008
"I'm hoping no one asks any questions that are technical, because I can't read music and I've never had lessons. It's all about intuition and imagination," says Lindsey Buckingham.
Faculty guitarist Lauren Passarelli (right), a longtime fan and expert on Buckingham's music, facilitates the Q&A session.
Buckingham performs "Big Love," a song he wrote for Fleetwood Mac's <em>Tango in the Night</em>.
"There's really a lot to be said for, 'It's not what you've got, but it's what's you do with what you've got.' You keep hammering at something until it doesn't suck. And then you try something else."
On the beauty of simple guitar playing: "Listen to what Chet Atkins did with the Everly Brothers. He would play one chord. He wouldn't even finish the progression. You might not even know it's there, but it it has so much to do with the structure."
Buckingham ends the clinic with "Never Going Back Again."
Photo by Bill O'Connell
Photo by Bill O'Connell
Photo by Bill O'Connell
Photo by Bill O'Connell
Photo by Bill O'Connell
Photo by Bill O'Connell

For a guy who has created some of the most well-known guitar parts of all time, Lindsey Buckingham seems pretty humble about it all. When the Fleetwood Mac guitarist and songwriter played the opening bars of "Rhiannon" in the David Friend Recital Hall last month, he shrugged as if anyone could have come up with the riff.

But the energetic applause from the crowd of students, faculty, and staff for the 15-second performance seemed to indicate otherwise: namely, that without Buckingham's innovative contributions, Fleetwood Mac would have never created some of the most popular rock music of the past several decades.

"I don't think of myself as a writer," said Buckingham, after performing the "Rhiannon" passage. "Stevie [Nicks, Fleetwood Mac vocalist] is a writer. I'm a stylist. It's about styles, colors, emotional tones."

Fair enough. But Buckingham did write some of Fleetwood Mac's best songs, such as "Go Your Own Way," "Second Hand News," and "Monday Morning." And he played some of his songs during an hour-long clinic at Berklee. The Q&A session came just a few hours before he performed at the Berklee Performance Center, the Boston stop on a tour supporting his latest album, Gift of Screws.

Click on the photo to learn more about the clinic.