I first bought Mirage on a trip to Ames with my high school English class. We'd gone over to see a production of "The Crucible" at CY Stephens Auditorium and of course, there was a requisite trip to the mall. Coming from a relatively small town to the relatively large city/town of Ames, I was looking forward to purchasing Mirage as it was the only post-Stevie and Lindsey album of theirs that I didn't have yet (excepting Live, which, oddly enough, I still don't have.) I bought it at Musicland and listened to it all the way home on the bus. I was so pleased to hear it - as the most recent Fleetwood Mac album I'd acquired had been Tusk, which, while periodically brilliant (I'm thinking specifically "Beautiful Child" and "Angel"), is overly long and incredibly self-indulgent. The sweet pop perfection of "Love In Store" set the mood just perfectly. It seemed as if they were returning to the Rumours formula which had worked so well. Years later, I would read that this was exactly what they were attempting - so I had a similar experience in 1988 that many other Fleetwood Mac fans had in 1982.
I've always been most fond of Stevie Nicks' contributions to Fleetwood Mac albums. While the three main singers/songwriters blend well and complement each other quite wonderfully, there was always something about the witchery and mysticism of Stevie Nicks that really appealed to me - then and now. And although it did seem that Mirage got the Bella Donna leftovers, what leftovers they were. "Straight Back" is classic Stevie - a minor key, intense lyrics and a great vocal by Stevie whose vocal performances at that time were a bit hit and miss. And then there's "Gypsy." What can I say about "Gypsy" that probably hasn't already been written somewhere else much more eloquently than I could ever hope to? Simply put, it's classic Fleetwood Mac, the second Fleetwood Mac single that I ever owned - it was the B-side to the 45 of "Hold Me" when it was in the "Golden Oldies" section of Musicland. (Good heavens, how I miss shopping for singles - that's an entire blog entry on its own.) It's mystical, it's bizarrely non-conventional for a pop song with no real verse-chorus-verse-chorus set up. Well, I'll just let the song speak for itself.
(look fast because Viacom is likely to yank it!) -- 2/11/07 EDIT: Too late. Stupid Viacom.
I think it's the bridge that gets me - and that's nothing new as it's usually the bridge that gets me in any good pop song.
To the gypsy that remains faces freedom with a little fearAnd then there's the end - the gorgeous "Lightning strikes/Maybe once, maybe twice/And it all comes down to you." There's an extended version of "Gypsy" on The Chain box set which, when I heard it, I realized that I had finally heard "Gypsy" as Stevie intended - her additional vocals on the end are fabulous.
I have no fear, I have only love
And if I was a child
And the child was enough
Enough for me to love
Enough to love
Mirage is a good but not great record. Lindsey Buckingham still goes a bit crazy (but nowhere near the batshit crazy he did on Tusk) with tracks like "Empire State" and "Eyes of the World." As I mentioned before, it tries a little too hard to replicate the successful formula of Rumours.
But I do love it, flaws and all. Perhaps it's because, whenever I listen to it, I remember that 15 year old kid riding the bus back to Carroll from Ames listening to it for the very first time - 6 years after its inital release - like it was brand new.