In December 1976, “Go Your Own Way” was the first track released from the Fleetwood Mac Rumours album. It quickly became the group’s first Top 10 single and elevated the band to new heights.
But what was the driving force behind the song? Who created the iconic “hard to find the beat” sound?
Let’s find out!
Who Originally Wrote Go Your Own Way?
Lindsey Buckingham was born in Palo Alto, California, in October 1949. He was the youngest of three children. His parents noticed his talent on a Mickey Mouse guitar when he’d play along with his brother’s collection of 45s. They believed in him enough they bought him a $35 Harmony guitar.
Around age 13, Buckingham became interested in folk music. He spent his time practicing the energetic stylings of the Kingston Trio.
Buckingham never took guitar lessons and can’t read music. He never played with a pick but always used his fingertips and nails to strum his guitar instead.
In his late teens and early 20s, Buckingham was a bassist and vocalist in a band. The band regrouped in 1967 and became known as Fritz. Shortly after, he invited classmate Stevie Nicks to join the band. It wasn’t long after that the two became a couple.
In 1972, Buckingham and Nicks recorded demos and left for Los Angeles searching for a record contract. Polydor Records picked them up, and they recorded Buckingham Nicks in 1973. Buckingham toured with Don Everly’s (of The Everly Brothers) backup band to make ends meet.
Polydor dropped Buckingham and Nicks in late 1974. Around the same time, Mick Fleetwood needed a guitarist and found Buckingham. Fleetwood offered Buckingham a spot in the band without an audition.
Buckingham refused to join without Nicks by his side. Fleetwood agreed, so Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975.
Buckingham’s musical stylings took Fleetwood Mac from a blues sound to more of a pop sound.
In 1981, he released the first of many solo albums. He also worked on various projects as a musician, composer, and producer throughout his career.
Buckingham remained with the band until 1987 and returned in 1997, staying until the others fired him in 2018.
So, Who is Go Your Own Way Written About?
While recording Fleetwood Mac’s second album, Buckingham and Nicks ended their romantic relationship. Other members’ romantic relationships ended as well, making recording sessions a challenge. But in the midst of it all, they continued to work together to create their second album, Rumours. Rumours went on to be one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Motivated by their breakup, Buckingham wrote “Go Your Own Way.” He originally meant for it to be a conversation starter with Nicks in an attempt to help him move forward. But as he continued to write the lyrics, he added a line that never sat well with her.
The line “packing up, shacking up is all you wanna do” infuriated her. She asked him to remove the line, but he refused. The lyric never got easier to sing during a live performance, knowing it wasn’t truthful and was hurtful.
Completed lyrics allowed Buckingham to turn his attention to the music. He knew what he wanted from Fleetwood as far as the percussion sounds using a tom-tom and a snare. He used John McVie’s bass to keep an eighth-note rhythm against the rhythm guitar giving it a soulful feel.
It took recording in three different studios and four months to develop the track. Producers recorded each instrument separately. It all came together with overdubs, a method used to splice instrumentals together.
“Go Your Own Way” was the band’s first Top 10 record in the US.
Stevie Nicks was able to write a response song and include it on Rumours as well. “Dreams” went on to reach #1 in the US.
What Popular Covers Are There of Go Your Own Way?
In 2021, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Go Your Own Way” #401 of the top 500 songs of all time. Many artists covered the song, including The Cranberries, Wilson Phillips, and Boy George.
The Cranberries recorded one of the most popular versions releasing it on March 17, 1998. Led by vocalist Dolores O’Riordan, they bring the iconic song a more uptempo beat with an indie-folk sound.
Boy George worked with German record producer Kinky Rowland on his high-energy cover. Released in January 2011 from the album Ordinary Alien, George gave this song more of a “club” feel to dance to.
Lea Michelle and the cast of Glee released their version of the song in May 2011. The Glee cast performed songs in the nineteenth episode of season two, titled “Rumours.” Their cover debuted at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their covers brought the original album back into the limelight.
Released on her YouTube channel in April 2021, Jennifer Owens gives “Go Your Own Way” a new audience. Her voice lends a soulful and emotional vocalization to the track.
Where is Lindsey Buckingham Now?
In February 2019, Buckingham experienced a heart attack during a minor surgical procedure. Some issues with the breathing tube caused him to wake up with vocal chord damage. It was months of recovery before he’d know if he could sing again.
He recorded a new album with material created before his split from Fleetwood Mac in 2018. He released Lindsey Buckingham in September 2021 and began to tour. This latest album has more of a pop sound than some of his other solo projects.
Buckingham will continue his US tour throughout the first four months of 2022. One of his last spring performances in the US will be at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis. In mid-May, he’ll cross the Atlantic to begin his European leg of the tour in Dublin, Ireland.
Will There Be a Return?
Lindsey Buckingham is considered by many as one of the most underrated guitarists of all time. His talents as a composer and producer are unparalleled.
He hopes to one day settle the differences he and Stevie Nicks have endured over the last 45 years. And as he begins to reconnect with other members of Fleetwood Mac, notes that he’d go back if they ever asked.
He continues to focus on the art of making music in his solo projects. For Buckingham, music is all about creativity and emotional expression. With that in mind, he continues to thrive.
Knowing the history, how does “Go Your Own Way” resonate with you?