Stevie Nicks was sitting on Sly Stone’s bed one afternoon in early 1976 when she wrote “Dreams.” Stone’s studio — inside the Record Plant in Sausalito, California — was down the hall from where she and the rest of Fleetwood Mac were recording Rumours, and she’d often go there for a break. She’d bring in her electric piano, journals and art and hang out on the funk king’s black-curtained bed. “It wasn’t my room, so it could be fabulous,” she recalled in the 1997 Classic Albums documentary on Rumours. “I knew when I wrote it that it was really special. I was really not self-conscious or insecure about showing it to the rest of the band.”
Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac just a year prior, along with her bandmate and romantic partner Lindsey Buckingham. After their psychedelic band Fritz broke up, the two had found minor success as the duo Buckingham Nicks when they were asked to join the blues band from England that had been struggling ever since founding guitarist Peter Green left in 1970. The pair’s first album with the band, 1975’s Fleetwood Mac, found widespread commercial success thanks to Nick’s witchy track “Rhiannon.” And now they were ready to record a follow-up that would bring them an even bigger audience.
Complete with waterbeds, nitrous-oxide gas masks and a 10-foot deep recording hole dubbed “the Pit,” Record Plant was the epitome of 1970s excess. The Mac spent nine weeks recording there in the midst of interpersonal turmoil and marital strife. Nicks and Buckingham were splitting, singer Christine McVie and bassist John McVie were divorcing after eight years of marriage, and Mick Fleetwood was going through a divorce of his own. “Everybody was pretty weirded out,” Christine McVie told Cameron Crowe in 1977. “Somehow Mick was there, the figurehead: ‘We must carry on … let’s be mature about this.’”
Released in March 1977, “Dreams” became the second single off Rumours. You can watch the band perform it here that same year, with Nicks giving a powerhouse vocal performance in a black dress. “Like a heartbeat, drives you mad/In the stillness of remembering what you had/And what you lost,” she sings, a mere two feet away from the man she’s singing about. Buckingham would return the favor with “Go Your Own Way,” in which he fires back, “Packing up/Shacking up is all you want to do.”
Rumours, which turns 42 today, transformed Fleetwood Mac into international superstars. According to Buckingham, the album’s success was due to the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. “You had these dialogues shooting back and forth between members of the band about things that were happening to all of us while we were recording these songs,” he said.
Fleetwood Mac recently launched another leg of their ongoing world tour, their first without Lindsey Buckingham since he rejoined the band in 1996. The guitarist was fired and replaced by the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell and Crowded House’s Neil Finn. “Our relationship has always been volatile. We were never married, but we might as well have been,” Nicks told Rolling Stone last year. “This is sad for me, but I want the next 10 years of my life to be really fun and happy. I want to get up every day and dance around my apartment and smile and say, ‘Thank God for this amazing life.’”