Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: RumoursReleased: 1977
Stevie Nicks wrote the lyrics about Lindsey Buckingham as their relationship was falling apart. Buckingham and Nicks share lead vocals on the song.
Pieces of different studio takes were spliced together to form the track. The bass line that comes in at about the 3-minute mark through the song was written independently by John McVie, who was originally planning to use it in a different song.
This began as a Christine McVie song called "Butter Cookie (Keep Me There)," which which is available on the expanded edition of Rumours
. The beginning of the track wasn't working, but the band loved Mick Fleetwood and John McVie's ending, which was now on tape. So, they counted back from the bass line, used the kick-drum as a metronome, Nicks gave them the lyrics for the verses, Buckinghan and Christine McVie wrote the music and the chorus lyrics, Lindsey added the guitar over the ending, and "The Chain" as we know it was born.
This is the only Fleetwood Mac song credited to all five members of their 1977 lineup. Since various pieces were assembled to make the song, they all had some contribution.
This song came to represent the resilience of Fleetwood Mac and the strength of their bond as they continued on for many years despite their personal and professional difficulties. It was often the first song they played in concert.
The low bass line in this song was used by the BBC for the Grand Prix
theme tune for many years.
Mick Fleetwood: "'The Chain' basically came out of a jam. That song was put together as distinct from someone literally sitting down and writing a song. It was very much collectively a band composition. The riff is John McVie's contribution - a major contribution. Because that bassline is still being played on British TV in the car-racing series to this day. The Grand Prix thing. But it was really something that just came out of us playing in the studio. Originally we had no words to it. And it really only became a song when Stevie wrote some. She walked in one day and said, 'I've written some words that might be good for that thing you were doing in the studio the other day.' So it was put together. Lindsey arranged and made a song out of all the bits and pieces that we were putting down onto tape. And then once it was arranged and we knew what we were doing, we went in and recorded it. But it ultimately becomes a band thing anyway, because we all have so much of our own individual style, our own stamp that makes the sound of Fleetwood Mac. So it's not like you feel disconnected from the fact that maybe you haven't written one of the songs. Because what you do, and what you feel when we're all making music together, is what Fleetwood Mac ends up being, and that's the stuff you hear on the albums. Whether one likes it or not, this is, after all, a combined effort from different people playing music together." (Courtesy: lucky98fm.com
The Rumours album was pieced together by overdubbing individual instruments, since the band was in no position to record at the same time. The only instance of two instruments being recorded together on the album occurs on this song, when the drums and guitar solo are playing together.
This song was used in episodes of Heroes ("Chapter Five 'Exposed'" - 2009), Glee ("Rumours" - 2011) and The Americans ("Walter Taffet" - 2015). It was also featured in the 2017 film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where it appears in two scenes. All five Fleetwood Mac members agreed to its use after watching the scenes.