Go Your Own Way
|"Go Your Own Way"|
|Single by Fleetwood Mac|
|from the album Rumours|
|Recorded||Record Plant, Sausalito; Wally Heider Studios, Los Angeles; Criteria Studios, Miami, 1976|
|Producer(s)||Fleetwood Mac, Richard Dashut, Ken Caillat|
|Fleetwood Mac singles chronology|
"Go Your Own Way" is a song by the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, released as a single in December 1976. Written by Lindsey Buckingham, it was the first single from the group's 1977 album Rumours.
The song was written on a vacation in Florida in a house the band rented. By this point, the members of Fleetwood Mac were not getting along very well. Mick Fleetwood, the band's drummer, remembers the tense atmosphere during this time:
It was hardly a vacation. Aside from the obvious unstated tension, I remember the house having a distinctly bad vibe to it, as if it were haunted, which did nothing to help matters…and that's where Lindsey played some of his stuff for the album. It was rough but it was great, though the setting didn't do it justice..."
The band didn't hear any of these early recordings until they returned to Sausalito.
Buckingham had heard "Street Fighting Man" by The Rolling Stones, and he thought that type of drum approach would work well for the song. Ken Caillat, remembers that Mick Fleetwood initially had a difficult time with the drums. "I remember watching him guide Mick as to what he wanted – he'd be so animated, like a little kid, playing these air tom fills with his curly hair flying. Mick wasn't so sure he could do what Lindsey wanted, but he did a great job, and the song took off."
The guitar solo was assembled in numerous takes at Criteria Studios by Ken Caillat, who was Fleetwood Mac's producer. "It was a completely comp'd solo, and on the 24-track it's still in its original form, with all the separate guitars, and you still have to mix that way. I remember, I'd gone away for Christmas vacation and got snowed in at Lake Tahoe, and when I finally returned I got a midnight call telling me to come to the studio because they'd been trying to mix that song and couldn't build the guitar solo. So I drove there and did the solo, using mutes and faders while also having two solos play simultaneously for certain parts, such as one toward the end where he does this slide."
The song is about the complicated relationship that Buckingham and fellow Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks were having. At the time the song was written, none of the members knew that they were writing songs about each other.
Stevie Nicks asked Buckingham to remove the lyrics "Packing up, shacking up is all you wanna do", but Buckingham refused. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Nicks gave her thoughts on the matter. "I very much resented him telling the world that 'packing up, shacking up' with different men was all I wanted to do. He knew it wasn't true. It was just an angry thing that he said. Every time those words would come onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him. He knew it, so he really pushed my buttons through that. It was like, 'I'll make you suffer for leaving me.' And I did."
Release and Initial Response
Although the release date for Rumours was set for February 1977, Fleetwood Mac wanted a single out by Christmas. "Go Your Own Way" was chosen to fill that role, and began its rise up the charts. This marketing move would prove to be very successful. Before the album's release, pre-orders had reached 800,000 copies, the biggest advance sale in Warner Brothers' history at the time.
B. Mitchel Reed, a popular DJ in LA in the 70s, was underwhelmed when he first played the single on his program. After the song had finished, he said dismissively to millions of listeners: "I don't know about that one". Afterwards, Buckingham contacted Reed, demanding to know what the problem was. Reed told Buckingham that he could not find the beat. Both Fleetwood and Buckingham took the blame for this issue. Buckingham attributed the problem to the acoustic guitar track that he added late into production. While he felt that the acoustic guitar glued the whole piece together, its unusual entrance created confusion over the location of beat one.
As soon as I came up with the acoustic part, the whole song came to life for me because it acted as a foil for the vocals and a rhythmic counterpoint…so when it comes in, you don't have a reference point for where the "one" is, or where the beat is at all. It's only after the first chorus comes in that you can realize where you are – and that's what that deejay was confused about.
Fleetwood on the other hand blamed his drumming:
"Go Your Own Way"s rhythm was a tom-tom structure that Lindsey demoed by hitting Kleenex boxes or something...I never quite got to grips with what he wanted, so the end result was my mutated interpretation. It became a major part of the song, a completely back-to-front approach that came, I'm ashamed to say, from capitalizing on my own ineptness.
Despite this, Fleetwood has said in an interview that "Go Your Own Way" is one of his favorite songs to play. "I love playing this song. It's one of my favorites because I get to kick the hell out of my drums, and it's got that wonderfully primal part. It's a great 'let loose' stage song, in which I can revert to my old animal ways and not be quite so polite. Lindsey is a full-on rock 'n' roller on this song, and that I love." Jeff Porcaro of the band Toto and Boz Scaggs complimented Fleetwood's drumming on "Go Your Own Way". On nights when Boz Scaggs opened for Fleetwood Mac, Porcaro would watch Fleetwood from the side of the stage. Porcaro once asked Fleetwood about his unorthodox drumming:
I've watched, I've tried to understand it. Nothing you do up there makes sense, but it sounds beautiful. What's your method? What are you doing in that last fill of "Go Your Own Way"? I can't figure it out! I've been watching every night. What do you do in the last measure on that last beat? Is the snare ahead or behind? Is the hi-hat off by two quarters or is a little more than that?
Jeff Porcaro was initially dubious, and found it hard to believe that Fleetwood, a drummer he admired, had no clue what he was doing. "It was only after we continued to talk that Jeff realized I wasn't kidding around. We eventually had a tremendous laugh about it, and when I later told him that I was dyslexic, it finally made sense."
Like many of the singles released off of the previous album Fleetwood Mac, "Go Your Own Way" was very successful. The song peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the group's first top-ten hit in the U.S. In the UK, the single was not as successful, and would only reach No. 38. However, the song became quite popular in the U.K. over a longer period as Rumours received more radio airplay and it re-entered the singles chart on many occasions. This led to the song selling gradually over the years. In 2013, it was certified Silver in the UK for digital sales of over 200,000 copies. In 2016, it was certified Gold for digital sales of over 400,000 copies. The song also hit the top 40 in many other countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, where it hit No. 1.
"Go Your Own Way" has received critical praise upon release. Daryl Easlea of BBC called Buckingham's compositions the best tracks on Rumours, "Go Your Own Way" included. It is ranked No. 120 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.
- US Vinyl (Warner Brothers Records - WBS 8304)
- "Go Your Own Way" 3:34
- "Silver Springs" 4:33
- UK Vinyl (Warner Brothers Records - K 16872)
- "Go Your Own Way" 3:34
- "Silver Springs" 4:33
Weekly singles charts
- Lindsey Buckingham – electric guitars, acoustic guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals
- Mick Fleetwood – drums, maracas, cymbals, cowbell
- Christine McVie – Hammond organ, backing vocals
- John McVie – bass guitar
- Stevie Nicks – backing vocals
"Go Your Own Way" has appeared on many other albums as well as some video games. Three years after its first appearance on Rumours, it was included on Live. This performance was recorded in Cleveland in 1979, and featured Ray Lindsey (Buckingham's guitar tech) on rhythm guitar. Its next appearance on a live album was 1997's The Dance in 1997. Seven years later the song appeared on both the DVD and Cd of Fleetwood Mac: Live in Boston. Clocking in at over 7:00, Buckingham is also seen hitting a crash cymbal (located on Fleetwood's kit) with his hand near the end of his guitar solo. Buckingham has continued to do this ever since the Say You Will Tour.
"Go Your Own Way" has been covered by several artists, including NOFX, The Lumineers, Vomit Launch, Seaweed, The Cranberries, Jellyfish, Jennifer Brown, Wilson Phillips, Biffy Clyro, Carrie Underwood, Boy George, Kate Ceberano, Silverstein, Keane, Lea Michele, Lissie, Head and the Heart, Colbie Caillat, Art of Dying  and Rawr Vanity.
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- Go Your Own Way at AllMusic
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