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Album: The Roots Of Fleetwood MacReleased: 1970Charted:
This was one of the last songs that Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green wrote for the band; it came at a time when he was taking LSD and having violent nightmares.
As Green explained in a 1996 interview with Mojo, the song is about the evils of money: the Green Manalishi was the devil manifested as a wad of cash. Green explained: "I had a dream where I woke up and I couldn't move, literally immobile on the bed. I had to fight to get back into my body. I had this message that came to me while I was like this, saying that I was separate from people like shop assistants, and I saw a picture of a female shop assistant and a wad of pound notes, and there was this other message saying,
'You're not what you used to be. You think you're better than them. You used to be an everyday person like a shop assistant, just a regular working person.' I had been separated from it because I had too much money. So I thought, How can I change that?"
Peter Green built quite a legend by giving away most of his money. He gave most of his savings to a London-based charity called War On Want, which provided aid to developing nations, mostly in Africa. Green explained: "Last thing at night they used to put pictures on telly of starving people and I used to sit there eating a doughnut and thinking, Why have I got this big stash that I don't need when probably I'm going to die with it and all this is going on?"
Judas Priest covered this on their Hell Bent for Leather
album in 1979.
Rumors had it that "Green Manalishi" was a kind of LSD, but Peter Green insists that is was about money. It was based upon a recurrent dream he had in which he woke up unable to move while messages about money formed in his brain. Green recalls: "When I woke up I found I was writing this song. Next day I went out to the park and the words started coming. The Green Manalishi is the wad of notes, the devil is green and he was after me. Fear, inspiration is what it was, but it was that tribal ancient Hebrew thing I was going for. Ancient music." More recently he admitted, "It took me two years to recover from that song. When I listened to it afterwards there was so much power there... it exhausted me." (from an article by Neil Slaven on Union Square Music)
In retrospect, the song seems like an obvious cry for help from Peter Green, but this wasn't so clear to his bandmates, who say that his descent was a gradual process, and that they didn't read so much into this song. "Peter going off the rails was not an immediate thing," Mick Fleetwood explained. "He left Fleetwood Mac under the most controlled circumstances."