The singer-songwriter and Fleetwood Mac guitarist discusses his new solo CD, “Seeds We Sow,” and explains why he feels this project is the best work he’s ever done.
Musician Lindsey Buckingham
Tavis: Pleased to welcome Lindsey Buckingham back to this program. The iconic guitarist and founding member of Fleetwood Mac is out this week with a critically acclaimed new solo project. It’s called “Seeds We Sow.” Later this week he also kicks off a North American tour.
In just a moment, a special performance from the disc, but first, Lindsey Buckingham, good to see you on this program again.
Lindsey Buckingham: Nice to be back, thank you.
Tavis: You’ve been good?
Buckingham: Yeah, I’ve been great.
Tavis: Good, good, good. What is it that you get out of doing these solo projects? You’re so renowned, world-renowned, for Fleetwood Mac. Whenever you guys do get back together and hit the road, tours sell out like crazy. So why spend time, what do you get out of these solo projects?
Buckingham: Well, the Fleetwood Mac thing is kind of the big machine, and you can pay the bills (laughter). That kind of works the political side of things. But the solo projects are the small machine, and really, because you put yourself in the position of taking the risks with those projects, much as you would, say, an independent film versus a mainstream film, you take the risks, you follow your heart, you’re pushing yourself as an artist.
The two tend to support each other, I think, and the small projects are where I keep growing.
Tavis: I want to come back to the growing part in just a second, but let me start with the taking the risk point you make a moment ago. On a project like this, what kind of risk are you taking?
Buckingham: Again, if you look at Fleetwood Mac, at some point the success kind of wants to – external forces want to define who you are a little bit and they want to identify the brand and repeat the formula.
When you work with the left side of your palette, which is what the solo albums do, because they are more esoteric you’re scaling down the audience that’s going to be interested in hearing it and it just frees you up to just do whatever you want to do for your own impulses and your own sense of yourself and how you want to create your own forward motion on your own terms, not about what’s expected of you in the marketplace.
Tavis: That allows you to grow, to your earlier point -
Buckingham: I think so, yeah.
Tavis: – in what ways?
Buckingham: Well, I think probably in the situation like Fleetwood Mac, we have gotten to a point where no one is particularly interested in hearing anything new from us, and there’s a freedom in that and there’s kind of a peace you can make with that.
But I think that if you’re any good at all you know you can always be better, and that if you have held on to your ideals and remember why you got into doing what you’re doing in the first place that you can maintain those ideals and maintain the aspiration to be an artist in the long term, and that is a continual process of unfolding and discovery.
Tavis: You said something a moment ago that I’ve rarely, if ever, rarely heard an artist admit in private, much less on national television, and that is that you have made peace with the fact that fans probably aren’t as interested in hearing – I’m paraphrasing what you said – but aren’t as interested in hearing anything new from Fleetwood Mac.
We all love the old Fleetwood Mac stuff. But how does, to your point now, an artist make peace with the fact that the audience is only interested in hearing the old stuff?
Buckingham: Well, again, because there’s this big machine on the one side and then the small machine, the two actually work in tandem, and there’s a balance you can strike if you choose to walk that road.
So say the last time Fleetwood Mac went on the road we did not have a new album out, and so basically we were doing our body of work, which was just fine with our audience.
Tavis: Yeah, in case they didn’t tell you, $55 million for that tour.
Buckingham: What I brought to that was a reflection of the two solo albums that I had done just previous to that tour, and so I had grown a lot and learned a lot and re-ignited my enthusiasm in my own self, the sense of myself, and I think I brought that back into the band.
A lot of it, it’s like what they say – it’s not what you got, it’s what you do with what you got. So I was able to bring some new kind of energy into that that was because I had done the small machine as well.
Tavis: Folk in a matter of three minutes are going to get a chance to sample this for themselves, some of the stuff off the new project, but how would you describe the new project, the sound of it, the growth that Lindsey Buckingham is undergoing?
Buckingham: Well, it’s funny. About six years ago I had done two solo albums back to back, and that was an agenda I had, that was something I wanted to do. I had to tell the band not to bother me for about three years. This was an album I was not really planning on making.
We got off the road and the time opened up and I filled it, and I think because it was kind of offhand, because I had no particular idea of what it was supposed to be, the material all came during the course of making the album, I think it was just really the culmination of the work and the growth and the insights that I’ve gained over the last 10 years. It was in a way a restatement of all those in one place, and oddly enough, I think it’s the best work I’ve ever done.
Tavis: Is it fair to say that age and being a father and all the years of doing Fleetwood Mac has made your sound, your music, a bit tamer?
Buckingham: Well, I wouldn’t say tamer, I’d say more grounded. Again, in the same way I’ve been able to strike a balance between the Fleetwood Mac and the solo, I’ve found a really wonderful balance between professional life and personal life. I saw a lot of my friends who were spouses and parents back in previous decades who weren’t really there for their families, and I didn’t want to be one of those.
I waited. I was lucky enough to meet someone when I was about 46 and had my first child when I was 48, so I got started late, but I also got all that other stuff out of the way and was at a point where I could be a consistent presence at home. That has really nurtured the professional side of things, too. It’s been a great gift.
Tavis: My mother’s watching now, so I’m going to ask this question just for my mother. So I don’t have kids as yet, not married as yet. What’s it like when you do this late in life, get married and have a baby?
Buckingham: Well, it’s incredible. It probably was not likely that it would have happened at that point. Had a lot of crazy girlfriends. (Laughter) I was a bit crazy myself, I think. We all were during that time. So it’s just the best thing that’s ever happened to me. This is the best time of my life.
It’s karmic, I’ll say that. I’m constantly saying, “Sorry, Mom, sorry, Dad.” You realize things that you put your own parents through. (Laughter) That’s okay too.
Tavis: So you’re apologizing every day as you raise this family.
Tavis: All right. So he’s happy professionally and personally, and has a new solo project out. It’s called “Seeds We Sow.” Up next, a special performance from Lindsey Buckingham. Lindsey, good to have you on the program, and look forward to hearing your stuff in just a second here.
Buckingham: My pleasure. A pleasure.
Tavis: From his new solo CD, “Seeds We Sow,” here is Lindsey Buckingham performing the title track. Enjoy.
[Live musical performance]
[Walmart - Save money. Live better.]
“Announcer:” Nationwide Insurance supports Tavis Smiley. With every question and every answer, Nationwide Insurance is proud to join Tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. Nationwide is on your side.
At Toyota, we celebrate differences and the people who make them. Toyota – proud supporter of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation.
And by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you.