Seems Like A Dream

I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  Is it just me, or are an inordinate amount of musicians dying lately?  Every single time I turn around, someone else is passing away, and I’m really, REALLY trying to swear off making my blog, as one of my friends so aptly joked, the “Greedy Cherry Obituary.”

Therefore, I’ll try to keep this short.

It’s hard not to honor the life of a talented musican, especially being a musician myself (for which the “talented” part, of course, is up for debate). But the death of Bob Welch today (a suicide, unfortunately) likely only strikes me so strongly because I have just recently come to appreciate his songs.  Or, to be honest, one song in particular.

“Hypnotized” was a song Welch wrote and performed when he was the lead guitarist and vocalist for Fleetwood Mac back in the 1970s. “But wait a minute,” you say. “Wasn’t Lindsey Buckingham the lead guitarist and vocalist for Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s?”

“Sure,” I reply. “He was certainly one of them.”

Many people don’t realize the lineup shifts and changes that went on in the ranks of the Mac back in the day, and that they only rose to global superstardom once the boyfriend/girlfriend duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined up in 1975. But Fleetwood Mac had been around since 1967, originally formed as a three-piece consisting of drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, and popular blues guitarist Peter Green. All of them met while performing as part of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and eventually struck out on their own, adding slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer and releasing their first album “Fleetwood Mac” in February of 1968. In fact, Fleetwood Mac was mainly a blues band for the first few years of their existence, and only started to segue into playing with the rock and pop styles as the 1970s dawned. Other guitarists who were members of the Mac that helped them stretch out into those styles in the early part of that decade were Danny Kirwan and Bob Weston (who, oddly enough, also died this year, back in January).

I promised to make this short, didn’t I?

Anyway, long story short: main guitarist Peter Green went a little bonkers and left the band, and they hired Christine Perfect (now known much better as Christine McVie) on to help fill out the lineup.  Shortly thereafter, Jeremy Spencer went out for a magazine and never came back (they found soon after he had joined a religious group called “The Children of God”), so the Mac was in the market for another guitarist.

Enter Bob Welch.

Welch was with the band from 1971 through 1974, and I frankly had never heard anything from that era until just a few months ago, when, on my Pandora station I listen to at work, the song “Hypnotized” came up on rotation. From the very first seconds, as the recognizable drum rhythm loops over and over without any other instrumentation, pounding its way into my subconscious, I took notice. I made a point to listen. The song didn’t disappoint.

It’s got a very relaxing, almost mystical vibe to it despite the drum prelude, and when the reverb-laden guitar hits its first lick, it’s almost the perfect antidote to the driving, unyielding rhythm Mick Fleetwood lays down. Further ambience is established by the swelling harmony vocals on the chorus. After my first listen, I wanted to hear it again. After my second, I rated it with the little orange “thumbs up” so that I would be sure to hear it (and other songs like it) again in my rotation.

After the tenth listen, I went to my local record shop and bought the CD, 1973’s “Mystery To Me”.

Anyway, Bob Welch would end up achieving greater success after leaving Fleetwood Mac. In 1977, as the Mac were ruling the world with the release of “Rumours”, Welch put out his first solo effort entitled “French Kiss”.  It contained two hits, the track “Sentimental Lady” (which was originally written and released during his time with Fleetwood Mac, but didn’t become a hit until this solo version….which, funny enough, features Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, and Lindey Buckingham as session players) and “Ebony Eyes”.  I’m sure, just as you likely didn’t know who the hell Bob Welch was in the first place, you probably wouldn’t recognize those songs by their names, but take a listen….chances are you do know them (at least “Sentimental Lady”).

(Don’t you love those moments where someone mentions a song, and you go, “What? No, I don’t know that song.” And then they play a bit of it, or hum it to you, and you go, “Oh YEAH….I know that.”  Sometimes I find it amazing how much we know that we don’t know until someone digs it out of a buried corner of our brain….)

So, in conclusion, after my one single blog entry where I didn’t mention dead musicans, I must now cave and say these words: rest in peace, Bob Welch. And thanks for the music.

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