Never Going Back Again is a Fleetwood Mac song, technically. But, really, it’s a Lindsey Buckingham song—and in my opinion has always stood as prime evidence of his masterful, poetically great skills as a guitarist. To proclaim Buckingham’s greatness as a guitarist is stating the well known to a room full of those who know it well. But, this song—Buckingham alone, laying down just two tracks—is such an exquisite piece of work, it always deserves another mention, and asks for another listen.
Never Going Back Again comes from the mega popular Rumors, the 1977 album that launched Fleetwood Mac into the stratosphere and has achieved legendary status—not just in terms of sales, but in ubiquity, as an omnipresent staple of classic rock radio. It deserves it’s status: the sheer number of songs on this album that are on so many “personal playlists” (a concept I’ve used before to talk about those songs, be they well known, or obscure, that are ones that you love, and return to over and over, without shame that the songs probably appear on everyone else’s fave’s list, too…) is kind of mind boggling, and Rumors is truly a historical artifact, a primary document of what a rock band, at their absolute apex, is capable of doing. Rumors is a greatest hits collection long before the band was at the point in their career where they would need to package a Greatest Hits Collection.
Rumors doesn’t need me to celebrate it in writing—it’s been celebrated for years, and will continue to be. There is a certain joy in going back to an album with so many great songs, and being able to listen, not critically, but just as a fan of good songs. And for me, the peak point of Rumors is Never Going Back Again.
Punchy, complex and sweetly harmonized, the song sinks in and stays there. It’s a summer day made musical in a few glorious bars and a repeating riff; it’s a pure example of a how a song feeds into the pleasure zones in our heads and makes us feel…great. Books have been written about the science of what a great song does to us at a neurological level. I don’t know how to say much on that. I do know when I listen to Never Going Back, a wonderfully quickening feeling comes over me, one that centers somewhere I imagine the soul resides, and for 2 minutes and 15 seconds, things are great. That’s what good music does.