Rarely is there a song that can be widely recognized by the sound of its first seconds. Even scarcer are songs that can be almost universally recognized by its chorus. “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac is one of the biggest hits to come out of the 70s, and you would be hard pressed to find a classic rock station nowadays that doesn’t play it at least weekly. The song truly encapsulates Rumours, as it is in fact a breakup album. Its iconic lyrics give the listener a good idea of the state of the relationship between band members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks during the album’s inception.
The song starts off subtle; with the rhythm guitar quietly leading-in some clean acoustic chords. You really sense the urgency of the song when the drums kick in – Mick Fleetwood’s offbeat tom hits push the song forward, playing at perfect walking pace. The chorus is dominated by the lurid vocals, with lyrics that have probably been sung by millions of people around the world by now. What really puts the cherry on top of this spectacle of a song is Buckingham’s solo that concludes the track. Like the song itself, the solo begins restrained, almost as if he’s describing his and Nicks’ meandering relationship with the strings of his guitar. Ultimately the solo builds in volume and complexity, once again paralleling a relationship on the verge of complete implosion. As the song fades away with the same delicacy that it crept in with, I can’t help but feel a certain sort of optimism. While the subject matter is negative, you can’t help but feel liberated by the ever-repeating line “you can go your own way,” as if Fleetwood Mac is reassuring listeners that life does in fact go on, even after the “lonely days” that might follow the breaking of a bond.
Image credit: Polydor Records