The Chain

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"The Chain"
Song by Fleetwood Mac
from the album Rumours
Released February 4, 1977
Recorded 1976
Genre Rock
Length 4:28
Label Warner Bros.
Rumours track listing
Audio sample

"The Chain" is a song by the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, released on their best-selling album Rumours. It is the only song from the album credited to all five members (Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood).

"The Chain" was created from combinations of several previously rejected materials, including solo work by Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie. It was assembled, often manually by splicing tapes with a razor blade, at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California, with hired engineers Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut.[1]

Following the critical and commercial success of Rumours, "The Chain" has been featured on The Dance, a 1997 live concert CD/DVD package, as well as several greatest hits compilations. It has attained particular fame in the United Kingdom, where the instrumental section is used as the theme tune for the BBC and Channel 4's television coverage of Formula One.[2][3]


According to interviews on the writing of Rumours, the final section of "The Chain"—beginning with a bass progression—was created by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Stevie Nicks had written the lyrics separately and thought they would be a good match; she and Christine McVie did some reworking to create the first section of the tune. Other elements were worked in from an early project of Christine's called "Keep Me There".[1] The blues-style piano motif was removed, and the remainder combined with a bridge from yet another piece manually using a razor blade to cut and splice the tapes. To complete the song, Buckingham recycled the intro from an earlier song from a duet with Nicks, "Lola (My Love)", originally released on their self-titled 1973 album.

Due to the spliced nature of the record (the drums and guitar were the only instruments actually recorded in each other's company) and its sporadic composition and assembly from different rejected songs, "The Chain" is one of only a few Fleetwood Mac songs whose authorship is credited to all members of the band at the time.[1] The finished song itself has a basic rock structure, although it has two distinct portions: the main verse and chorus, and the outro. The song shows influences of hard rock, folk, and country, using a dobro to play the guitar riff.[1][4]

Release and reception[edit]

Rumours garnered widespread critical acclaim upon its release. Subsequent analysis of "The Chain" has also led many to cite it as one of the most evocative expressions of the internal fracture between various band members at the time. Buckingham and Nicks were ending their relationship at the same time that John and Christine McVie's marriage broke down, as did that of Fleetwood and his wife Jenny Boyd.[1] In 1997, Fleetwood Mac released a live concert CD/DVD package called The Dance, which featured the reunion of the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac members. The rendition of "The Chain" reached number 30 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It has also appeared on The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac and 25 Years - The Chain.

Chart ("The Dance" Version) Peak
US Mainstream Rock Singles 30
Canadian Singles Chart 51
Chart (2011) Peak
UK Singles Chart 81
Region Certification
United Kingdom (BPI)[5] Gold


Tantric version[edit]

"The Chain"
Tantric The Chain Cover.jpg
Single by Tantric
from the album After We Go
Released Winter 2004
Format CD
Length 4:21
Label Maverick
Tantric singles chronology
"Hey Now"
"The Chain"
"After We Go"
"Hey Now"
"The Chain"
"After We Go"

The song was recorded by the American rock band Tantric, released as the second single off their 2004 second album After We Go. Though being released as a single the song lacked much promotion, debuting at number 36 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.

Tantric's cover of the song was used as the theme song for the HBO Documentary series Family Bonds.[6]


Chart (2004) Peak
US Billboard Mainstream Rock 36

Cover versions[edit]

There have been numerous covers of "The Chain". 1980s rock band Shark Island included a cover of "The Chain" on their 1989 album Law of the Order, notable for not including the famous bass solo in the song. Canadian heavy metal band Kick Axe performed a cover of "The Chain" on Rock the World, their third studio album, released in 1986. In 2009, Three Days Grace originally recorded "The Chain" for their album Transit of Venus but was one of the few not put on the record. However, it was put on their Lost in You EP, and since September 22, 2009, they have been playing "The Chain" at their concerts throughout their tour. The band also performed it at IHeartRadio in December 2009, and Shawn Colvin performed a cover of the song for Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. The hard rock band Taking Dawn also performed a cover of "The Chain" on their 2010 debut album titled Time to Burn. They regularly perform the song as part of their live sets.

This song was sampled by rap artists Bone Thugs-n-Harmony in the song "Wind Blow" off their album Strength and Loyalty, and rapper Project Pat used the bass line in the last section of the song on his song "Don't Save Her" off his album Mista Don't Play. It was also sampled in Sway DaSafo's debut single titled "Up Your Speed".

Little Big Town sometimes covers this song.

Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, Ben Howard, Haim and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performed this song live for the final song of their Summer Stampede festival at the Olympic Park, London, in July 2013.

Brandi Carlile covered "The Chain" for Sweetheart 2014, a Valentine's Day themed album sold at Starbucks stores and online.

Florence + The Machine covered the song live at the Glastonbury Festival in 2010.

Other media[edit]

The BBC's Formula One coverage used the ending bass line as a theme tune from 1978 until the BBC's loss of TV rights to ITV Sport in 1997, thus making the song highly recognisable in the United Kingdom.[7] On 29 March 2009 the song re-entered the UK Chart at #94 through downloads, following confirmation from the BBC that it would be reintroduced, the BBC having regained broadcasting rights from ITV. On 20 March 2011, "The Chain" peaked higher at #81 in the UK chart following a campaign on Facebook to try to get the song to number 1 for the start of the 2011 Formula One season.[2] By November 2014, the song had been certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry based on download sales alone, making it one of Fleetwood Mac's most successful songs in the UK.

Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie have a feature on their BBC Radio show called The Chain which is a list of songs, each track having something in common with the one before it, beginning with "The Chain" and introduced each time with the bassline from the song. Marvel Studios has also utilized "The Chain" in two trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, including one that aired during Super Bowl LI.[8] It also appeared in the movie's soundtrack, Awesome Mix Vol. 2.[9]



  1. ^ a b c d e Carroll (2004) p. 134-136.
  2. ^ a b "BBC Formula One coverage to bring back Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain'". Daily Telegraph. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Klein, Jamie (12 February 2016). "Channel 4 to keep 'The Chain' as F1 theme song". Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  4. ^ Garbarini, Vic (March 1998). "Interview with Lindsey Buckingham". Guitar World. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "British single certifications – Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Everywhere in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  6. ^ Zahlaway, Jon Tantric takes another swing on U.S. club circuit (August 26, 2004). Retrieved March 22, 2008.
  7. ^ "BBC unveils 2009 F1 coverage – and return of The Chain". 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  8. ^ Wilkening, Matthew. "Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ Gets an Even Bigger Spotlight in New ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Trailer". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved March 1, 2017. 
  9. ^ Hiatt, Brian. "Inside the 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' Soundtrack". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 22, 2017. 

Written sources[edit]

  • Caillat, Ken (2012). Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 1118218086. 
  • Carroll, Cath (2004). Never Break the Chain: Fleetwood Mac and the Making of Rumours. Vinyl Frontier. ISBN 1556525451. 

External links[edit]