Book Review: Play On

Play On: Now, Then, And Fleetwood Mac, by Mick Fleetwood & Anthony Bozza

One of the unfortunate truths of reading about creative people is that those who create art that one deeply enjoys are often people whose lives are loathsome and not worthy of emulation, and regretfully that is the case here. If the author can be praised for his honesty, a lot of that honesty is simply very unpleasant. Rock stars, and musicians in general, and creative people still more in general, tend to live disordered lives because for many people creativity means developing an antipathy to order and propriety rather than simply recognizing one’s creativity as a re-ordering of elements in existence and a role in expanding the order and propriety that exist. There is a certain pattern to many people whose memoirs one reads about in the realm of popular music and this book hits most of the high points, including rampant drug abuse, relationship drama, and the tension between careerist ambition and a hostility to that which provides order and structure in life and in one’s world. To the extent that this book offers something that is worthy of praise, it is the author’s desire to keep playing and keep creating and to overcome the divisions and interpersonal struggles that so often divide, and if Fleetwood Mac’s history has not been a picture of stability, it at least has the advantage of having been a consistent going concern despite its turmoil.

This book is more than 300 pages long and explores the life of Mick Fleetwood from his birth to the 2010s, when he believes that the core Fleetwood Mac band would keep going into the future. This was, alas, not to happen, but the author did not know that the band’s internal drama would not improve with age. Included are rather detailed discussions of Mick Fleetwood’s struggles with school, his development of his craft as a drummer, which included enough practice to give him an intuitive feel for drumming, and of his general careerist ambitions within Fleetwood Mac itself. He discusses his relationship history, including a fling with Stevie Nicks, in a somewhat disjointed fashion that reveals his inability to keep a relationship going for as long as he would wish. This book is also useful in discussing his own fondness for the more experimental albums within the discography of the group, although it must be admitted that the author has kind words to say about just about every aspect of the band’s recordings, noting with compassion the way that the relationships between different band members throughout the group’s history led to drama and struggles and to frequent lineup changes.

And it is not hard to see where this turmoil comes from. It has always been a telling and intriguing irony that Fleetwood Mac was named after its rhythm section, and it has been precisely this section that has remained consistent throughout the band’s history–Mick Fleetwood calls it, rather aptly, a successful marriage between himself and bassist McVie–even if the rhythm section has had the least influence on the band’s sound. Most of this history consists of a rather blunt tell-most approach about the recording of the band’s music and the struggles between different members of the band to stay sane and stay creative and be able to work together. If Fleetwood appears to be one of the more grounded members of the group, he certainly has experienced his own share of turmoil and his three marriages suggests a desire to find something that lasts without quite being able to know how to do it. He confesses his own struggle to communicate and his troubles with dyslexia are unfortunate, in that they robbed him from the sort of success in school that might have given him a less chaotic way forward in life. Yet, at the same time, it is nearly certain that had he lived a less chaotic life, he would certainly not be known by as many people. It is this rub that draws people to fame even if that fame is ultimately self-destructive.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Music History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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