Pop Rock Songbird: 12 Greatest Christine McVie Songs

A native of England, singer-songwriter Christine Anne Perfect spent her early music career as an active voice in the ‘60s British Blues scene. Starting out with bluesy band Chicken Shack, she developed her songwriting craft and stage presence while acting as a powerful force for the group’s appeal. After marrying John McVie, his band (none other than Fleetwood Mac) was looking for a replacement musician, and Christine’s keyboard skills, vocal ability, and songwriting acumen proved to be a stellar triple threat. She would go on to pen some of the band’s biggest hits, and would always serve as a business boost for the band just when they needed a radio-friendly rocker or a romantic ballad that would leave audiences pining for more.

The effects of her visionary songwriting skills and musical presence in the industry would go on to influence new generations of bands and musicians in the States and across the UK. Keep reading for our takes on the best Christine McVie songs.

12. Songbird

One of several immortal tracks written by McVie, ‘Songbird’ has always held a special place in her heart and in the hearts of Fleetwood Mac fans. Written while the band was in the middle of recording their signature Rumours album, she woke up in the middle of the night with the words and melody in her head. The next day, she sat down at a grand piano, just her voice and the keys leading the fledgling tune. Luckily, the solo performance was being recorded, and the band loved it so much they included it on the album. With a message of loving someone, or yourself, even through the hardest of times, it resonated deeply with the group, who all used it as a comforting reminder while going through hardships with each other. The song’s title is also the nickname given to McVie by fellow Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks in the band’s formative years. After McVie’s passing, blues slide queen Bonnie Raitt, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, and Mac member Mick Fleetwood all performed the moving track in honor of her at the Grammys.

11. Got a Hold on Me

In between her work with Fleetwood Mac, McVie also spent time focusing on a career of her own as a solo musician. Her self-titled album released in 1984 features ‘Got a Hold On Me.’ The romantic track was the most successful single release off of the record, charting in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and charting even higher on other listings like Billboard’s Adult Contemporary. Of all her solo releases, ‘Got a Hold On Me’ experienced the most commercial success. Though it was a solo release, she still made use of some of her fellow Fleetwood Mac bandmates for the recordings. Lindsey Buckingham laid down guitar tracks for this McVie hit.

10. When the Train Comes Back

Long before Christine McVie officially joined Fleetwood Mac, she experienced a good bit of local success as a blues artist with her band Chicken Shack. They traveled throughout the UK and in the ‘60s, you could find them tearing up the stage at the famous Star Club, where they worked as the house band (Before them, The Beatles acted as house band for the popular live music venue). When Chicken Shack released their debut album, the bluesy record featured a number of original tracks written by McVie. ‘When The Train Comes Back’ is one of McVie’s first songs she wrote, and is a slow-burn blues roll with a classic theme: Heartbreak.

9. Think About Me

A highlight on Fleetwood Mac’s 1980 Tusk album, the McVie-penned ‘Think About Me’ track really highlights her range as a songwriter. Critics loved the track and hailed it as a rare “McVie Rocker.” The recording made it all the more dazzling, with dynamic harmonies and rock and roll rhythms driving the commercially successful number. Its marketability served as an important boost for the record. The tune climbed all the way into the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, giving the band staying power heading into a brand new, more synthesized musical decade.

8. Over and Over

After the success of their 1977 Rumours album, the band was looking to keep the momentum going, and Christine was a key piece of their continued success into the ‘80s. Her contributions to their follow-up Tusk album acted as anchors for both the group and for the fans who bought the album. One of the more underrated but highly praised McVie contributions from that record is ‘Over and Over,’ an early track on the listing that acted as a type of security blanket for listeners. A soft ballad exploring the complications behind a struggling romance, Fleetwood Mac used the song to draw listeners in before taking them on a wild ride with the rest of the Tusk album, which showed a more amped-up Mac sound leading the charge for the powered-up nature of the 1980s pop rock musical landscape.

7. Little Lies

A huge top 5 hit for the band, McVie served up another commercial success with the pensive single ‘Little Lies.’ Co-written with then-husband Eddy Quintela, even though they were a newly married couple, they found themselves writing about a down-and-out relationship built more on half-truths and white lies than honesty and integrity. The protagonist knows she can’t change the past, so she asks her lover to continue the charade with her. Though the marriage would eventually end, the tune wasn’t actually about her and Quintela’s relationship. One of McVie’s strongest attributes as a writer was her ability to put herself in other people’s shoes and write from their perspective, which is exactly what she did with this smash hit.

6. Over My Head

Though most associate Fleetwood Mac with their rise to fame in the ‘70s and subsequent radio dominance in the ‘80s, the original lineup has actually been around since the 1960s. Mostly a blues-based band, their releases didn’t chart much and they gained little mass appeal. But with the addition of both Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, suddenly the band was teetering on the mainstream due to the two new members’ pop appeal. Add in the songwriting prowess of keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie, and they had a surefire recipe for success. ‘Over My Head’ kicked things off for the band, and the top 40 American hit set up a string of single release successes for future popular tunes like ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Go Your Own Way.’ McVie penned ‘Over My Head’ while thinking about a toxic relationship the future song’s protagonist should get out of, but she can’t because despite what her mind is trying to tell her she should do, her heart is doing all the talking.

5. Hold Me

When McVie initially joined Fleetwood Mac, it was only supposed to be for a limited amount of time while they figured out who would officially fill founding member Peter Green’s role after he left the group due to struggles with substance abuse. At the time, she was married to Mac band member John McVie, and her chemistry with the band, and keyboard and vocal skills, made her a valuable asset to their sound. Despite her marriage to John not working out, she remained an integral part of the band. Her tune ‘Hold Me’ appears on Fleetwood Mac’s best-selling Mirage album, and was inspired by her subsequent complicated relationship with Beach Boys band member Dennis Wilson.

4. Say You Love Me

One of Fleetwood Mac’s pivotal early successes on their self-titled 1975 album, ‘Say You Love Me’ highlights what McVie does best when she’s in songwriting mode. A catchy love song penned during her time married to fellow bandmate John McVie, she wrote it while they were spending time at home in their oceanside apartment. Perhaps the beautiful Pacific Ocean views off the coast of California inspired the romantic aspect of this chart-climber. Along with early hits singles like ‘Over My Head,’ these first few McVie originals set a new pace for the band and put them front and center of the late ‘70s burgeoning pop rock movement.

3. You Make Loving Fun

Another well-received, romantically-tinged single from McVie, she took on a more producer-oriented role during the recording process. Many times, no matter who wrote the track, Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham would assume control of the studio, but for ‘You Make Loving Fun,’ McVie gladly took on that role and subsequently built the song exactly how she wanted to. From sparkling harmonies to a light rocking feel, she added all the elements to her tune that would eventually make it a Fleetwood Mac classic, and one they’d have to always add to their setlists during her tenure with the band. She wrote it while still married to John McVie, but in a rare songwriting session focused on autobiographical material, it was later found out that the single is actually about the band’s director of lighting from the mid. ‘70s, whom she had a brief tryst with.

2. Everywhere

This romancer of a tune is a bonafide fan favorite from Fleetwood Mac’s acclaimed Tango in the Night LP. McVie’s simple yet effective songwriting approach to the track highlights why she’s the recipient of so many music awards, including two Grammys. With lyrics focusing on the honeymoon stages of fresh romance, ‘Everywhere’ has long been a live show staple because crowds love singing it back to the band when they perform it on stage. Even today, it remains one of the band’s most popular songs.

1. Don’t Stop

One of the powerful forces behind the monolith success of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours release was the songwriting contributions made by McVie to the album. One of her most enduring tracks, ‘Don’t Stop,’ was also one of the hardest for her to record and include on the signature record. While the band recorded Rumours, she and fellow bandmate John McVie were going through a painful divorce. The lyrics to this song center around the array of emotions she was dealing with as their relationship came to a close. Despite the autobiographical nature of the tune, Christine had a knack for keeping themes universal and relatable to all listeners. Because of this open-ended tendency with her lyrics, and the song’s surprisingly uplifting feel, it actually took years for John to realize the song was about him.

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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