When you think of legendary guitarists, Fleetwood Mac might not be the first band that comes to mind. Yet, hidden in the depths of their radio-friendly pop hits lies a guitar challenge that could baffle even the most seasoned musicians. In their magnum opus, Rumours, Lindsey Buckingham, the band’s guitarist, crafted a guitar section in ‘Never Going Back Again’ that stands as a testament to his unparalleled skill and innovation.
During the tumultuous recording of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac was a cauldron of internal conflicts.
Each band member’s personal turmoil was channeled into their music, resulting in emotionally charged songs. Buckingham, particularly, poured his heart and soul into his guitar work, especially evident in ‘Go Your Own Way’. However, it’s ‘Never Going Back Again’ where Buckingham’s genius truly shines.
Buckingham’s unique playing style added to the complexity of the song. He was a fingerstyle player, eschewing the conventional pick for a more organic connection with his guitar. ‘Never Going Back Again’ demands precise fingerstyle technique, a departure from the pick-dependent norm. The song’s rhythmic patterns are intricate, driving any aspiring guitarist to the brink of confusion.
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At first listen, one might assume the song relies on triplets, with groups of three notes played in succession.
However, Buckingham’s technique is far more intricate. He employs a polyrhythmic approach, a technique usually reserved for progressive rock. While most of his fingers dance in triplets, his thumb weaves a bassline in groups of two, creating a mesmerizing counterpoint rhythm.
Polyrhythms are a rarity in pop music, let alone a song that clocks in at just over two minutes. This complexity, layered beneath the song’s deceptively simple surface, showcases Buckingham’s musical brilliance. Moreover, Buckingham had to navigate a different challenge while singing. He initially composed the song in a key too high for his vocal range, forcing him to transpose it lower. This adjustment added another layer of complexity to an already intricate piece.
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‘Never Going Back Again’ showcased Buckingham’s ability to infuse pop music with musical ingenuity.
While Fleetwood Mac is synonymous with catchy pop tunes, this track defies the conventional boundaries of the genre. Buckingham’s guitar mastery turned a seemingly straightforward pop song into a labyrinth of musical complexity.
In the end, ‘Never Going Back Again’ isn’t just a highlight of the skill of Lindsey Buckingham; it’s a reminder that true musical genius knows no bounds. Buckingham’s ability to blend technical prowess with emotional depth elevates this pop gem into a masterpiece of complexity, leaving aspiring guitarists both awestruck and inspired.