With lyrics by Stevie Nicks inspired by her breakup with Fleetwood Mac guitarist and long-time love interest Lindsey Buckingham, “The Chain” was released on the massive 1977 hit album, Rumours.
The song was spliced together from different takes. It began as a Christine McVie song called “Butter Cookie (Keep Me There).” The beginning wasn’t coming together, but the ending worked well. So, the band counted back from the ending with a metronome, put Nicks’ lyrics over it, added a bass line written by John McVie independently for another song, and this classic was born.
It is the only Fleetwood Mac song credited to all five members of their 1977 lineup.
The song has been covered by many artists, but today’s cover comes from a remarkable — and, for me, local — concert tradition started years ago by Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt. Every year or two, he flies in his unbelievably musical family from Portugal and other far-flung places to have a casual musical gathering at a nearby Portuguese club on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Usually, there is a theme, which is kept secret until the event.
Most likely, this year’s version is happening as you read.
This video from last year’s concert captures how casual yet extraordinary the event is. There is some off-handed swearing as Nuno worries about tackling the song, noting its degree of difficulty. But then Nuno, his niece (a professional singer), his daughter (who is also an actress, famous mostly in Australia), and more family members proceed to slay it — after also performing songs by Aerosmith, Queen, and the Beatles.
Extreme gained fame initially with their 1991 acoustic hit, “More Than Words,” which went to #1 on multiple charts. This was followed by “Hole Hearted,” which went to #4 — and with a super-fun video of a street performance. Bettencourt famously wrote it on the toilet after buying his first 12-string guitar. It was recorded soon after for a demo using a headset mic taped to his knee, with Bettencourt and the band’s singer (Gary Cherone) harmonizing into a shared mic between them. This demo became the final song. And this band proves once again that the ability to sing harmonies is a huge part of next-level musical success.
First noted for his guitar chops from 1991’s “Get the Funk Out,” Bettencourt is the buzz of the guitar world once more, with his solo on the Extreme song “Rise” wowing every guitarist out there — especially the second half. It’s an awesome song, too.
Enjoy all the music here today!