The mid-80s were both the best and the worst of times Fleetwood Mac.
Mirage yielded a handful of hits — “Hold Me” and “Gypsy” hit the Top 20 in 1982 — and a brief U.S. tour ended that year with little fanfare. During a subsequent break, Lindsey Buckingham released another solo album (1984s Go insane), Stevie Nicks released two more (1983s The wild heart and the 1985s Rock a little) and Christine McVie issued his self-titled solo effort in 1984. Each was generally well received.
This break proved necessary as all was not well under the surface. Mick Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy in 1984, Nicks was admitted to the Betty Ford Clinic in 1986 to address her cocaine addiction and John McVie suffered an alcohol-induced seizure in 1987. Many wondered if Fleetwood Mac had reached the end of the road—at least as a cohesive unit.
At the same time, no one seemed content to allow Mirage to be Fleetwood Mac’s last album. As Buckingham told Creme“it left a lot of things dangling.”
There was more music to be made, but Fleetwood Mac didn’t get back together right away. Christine McVie was asked to record one Elvis Presley cover, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,“ for the 1986 film A nice mess. She was backed up by Fleetwood, Buckingham and John McVie and they found there was still a spark.
“It was the first time in almost five years that we had all been in a working environment together,” Christine later remembered. “We had such a good time in the studio and realized that after all we still had something to give each other musically.”
Watch Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Little Lies’ Video
Not everything was perfect when Fleetwood Mac began work on their next studio album, Tango at night: Nicks was in and out of the picture, promoting her latest solo album and continuing to deal with substance abuse issues, while Buckingham’s tendency to take control of production caused some tension.
Christine McVie, divorced from John McVie for a decade, was in a new relationship with Portuguese keyboardist and songwriter Eddy Quintela.
“I didn’t want to grow old alone,” she said Rolling stones in 1984. “Not that I wanted to be alone: I have a lot of good friends that I’ve had for 20 years. If the right guy pops the question, I’ll say yes. I’m living with Eddy right now and it’s going really well . So who knows? Maybe I won’t get married, but I dare say I’ll be happy.”
They married in October 1986, and McVie also found an artistic collaborator in his new life partner. Surprisingly, songwriting didn’t always come easily to McVie.
“I started writing songs when I was very young, but I wasn’t very good,” McVie said Harper’s Bazaar in 2019. “Actually, I was quite paranoid about it. Then I joined Fleetwood Mac and Mick encouraged me to keep trying. I was writing all the time during that time and my pop evolved into more of a bluesy style. It was Mick who told me to persevere and eventually I wrote a few good songs.”
Together, McVie and Quintela wrote “Little Lies,” an upbeat track with a surprisingly dark undercurrent of deception and resigned acceptance. “If I could turn the page“, McVie sings in the first line.”Over time, I would rearrange just a day or two.” In the end, the narrator decides to live with the inconsistencies, the “little lies.”
Listen to the extended version of ‘Little Lies’
The song did not appear to be specifically based on her relationship with Quintela, but McVie always said that she wrote based on her personal experiences. “I have to be involved in love to write love songs,” she said Attitude magazine in 2019.
“Little Lies” fits in well among the other tracks on Tango at nightwhich also included McVie’s collaboration with Quintela on “Isn’t it midnight?.” “I write for the band when we’re in the studio,” McVie later shared Elsewhere magazine, “because then I get a feel for what’s going to go into the album. We start with maybe three songs and then pull from our different bags of ideas. We can record a song one way originally and then end up with another tempo , another bridge and so on. We’re quite adventurous in doing just what we want. You have to build it like a sculpture.”
Tango at night was produced by Buckingham and Richard Dashut, who leaned heavily on digital tools along with engineer Greg Droman. However, they encountered some problems when mastering the LP, as manually spliced tapes began to fail. They fixed the problem, except for one notable instance: “There’s something on a song — I think it’s ‘Little Lies,'” Droman told Saloon in 2017. “You can easily say ‘Oh that’s a hi-hat’. But it’s not. I know it’s not.”
“Little Lies” was released as the third single from Tango at nightwhen No. 4 on Billboard Hot 100 within a few months. For decades, it remained Fleetwood Mac’s last Top 10 hit in the US (“Little Lies” also reached No. 5 on the UK chart.) A music video accompanied it, featuring the band in a rustic-looking farmhouse.
Tango at night was a huge success and ultimately became the band’s second best-selling album afterwards Rumors. No one knew what the future would bring – Buckingham, indeed, would soon leave – but songs like “Little Lies” initially proved that there was still gas left in the tank. “I’d like to think this record brought all sorts of loose ends together,” Buckingham shared Rolling stones in 1987. “I think the album has been a healing process.”
20 B-sides that became big hits
We focus on songs that are charted separately, rather than so-called “double A-sides.”
Why do more people dislike this Fleetwood Mac album?