Fleetwood Mac surprised President Bill Clinton on Saturday night just outside the White House by performing at a farewell party organized by his staff. Though the band members hadn’t played together in nearly three years, they pulled together an eleven-song set that included “Don’t Stop,” Clinton’s campaign theme from 1992.
“We got a call maybe two weeks before the event,” says Lindsey Buckingham. “I said to Stevie [Nicks], ‘Do you think we can pull this off? We need to rehearse, right?’ They wanted an hour, so we figured we could put together the workhorses for the set.”
The band performed without Christine McVie, who departed shortly after the band’s 1997 live comeback album, The Dance, though Buckingham claims that the set still “went very smoothly.”
As for the rest of the band, Buckingham said the experiences were a mixed bag. “I think Mick [Fleetwood] just enjoyed the event. John [McVie] is a staunch Republican, so I think he was just taking it all pretty much in terms of the event itself. You also have to take the fact that [Clinton was] sitting twenty feet away. It didn’t make me too nervous. I think it did make Stevie a little more nervous, because she doesn’t have a guitar to hide behind.”
For Fleetwood Mac, the performance served as the second of two bookends for the Clinton administration. In addition to Clinton using “Don’t Stop” during his campaign, the band appeared at his inauguration eight years ago to perform the song. But in bidding the president farewell, the band offered a lengthier set that featured “The Chain,” “Dreams,” “Landslide,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Go Your Own Way,” “Rhiannon,” “Tusk,” “Big Love,” “Gypsy” and “So Afraid.”
“We were involved in a small way in ushering in his administration, so it was nice to kind of complete that cycle,” Buckingham said of Clinton’s era in office. “Before we did the last song, I said we were just pleased to be here at the end, just as in the beginning . . . Especially in light of what we have coming now, you have to appreciate a lot of the things that he did and what he tried to do and even the things he couldn’t do.”