One Track Mind: Lindsey Buckingham, "Stars Are Crazy" (2011)

Photo by Jeremy Cowart

Performing live, Lindsey Buckingham has developed this knack for stripping away his familiar in-studio sorcery — an exacting, very revealing process. Memorable examples have included solo updates of “Big Love” and “Go Insane,” both of which evolved into staccato declarations of deep, and very dark emotions.

The latest may well be the Nick Drake-influenced “Stars Are Crazy” from a forthcoming DVD project called Songs From The Small Machine that showcases tracks from Buckingham’s new studio album Seeds We Sow, as well as other select solo and Fleetwood Mac tunes. Seeds, Buckingham’s third project in five years, was also his first to be self-released following a lengthy stint with Warner Bros., and it has a concurrent introspection. If anything, this live take on “Stars” pulls more layers away, though, somehow sounding even more personal, more harrowing.

As Buckingham launches into the chorus (sometimes we analyze, almost apologize … wondering if the stars are crazy) the song takes on a deeper elegiac wonder. He so perfectly captures the spiraling emptiness of a lost love, a love that was maybe wrong in the first place but just won’t leave your heart — starting with the familiar finger-picking guitar that propels the track, the very sound of a thought going ’round and ’round in your head.

As perfectly unsettling as his discordant playing style is, though, Buckingham’s vocals in the studio are typically performed with a whispery closeness. In this setting, there’s an raw-boned abrasiveness, a scratchy, unkempt quality, that seems to let more of his genuine feelings leak out. “Stars Are Crazy,” in the end, has a harder edge (and this is saying something) that it did on the frankly confessional Seeds We Sow.

It’s one of those times where a live version expands on the original, giving it stark new shadings.

Songs From The Small Machine, to be issued Nov. 1 by Eagle Vision, was filmed in high definition at an exclusive Beverly Hills show in April this year. Tracks include Fleetwood Mac favorites “Go Your Own Way,” “Second Hand News,” “Big Love,” “Tusk,” “I’m So Afraid” and “Never Going Back Again,” as well as Buckingham solo tunes from 1981′s Law and Order (“Trouble”), 1984′s Go Insane (the title track), 1992′s Out of the Cradle (“Turn It On,” “All My Sorrows”), 2006′s Under the Skin (the title track and “Shut Us Down”), 2008′s Gift of Screws (“Treason”) and 2011′s Seeds We Sow (“In Our Own Time,” “Illumination,” “Stars Are Crazy,” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” “End of Time”). A bonus interview appears on both the standard DVD and the Blu-ray editions.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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