Another link in The Chain

Lissie - In Sleep

Last year I picked up a copy of Lissie’s ‘Why you runnin’ EP which had a song co-written by local boy Ed Harcourt (‘Oh Mississippi’) and one of the most moving ballads of the year in ‘Everywhere I go’ which led me to get an early version of her album ‘Catching the Tiger’ a few weeks ago. Playing it in the car on the less than Route 66 of the A24 on the way to Storrington the song ‘In Sleep’ came on and the hairs on the back of my neck started to prickle as I listened to the guitar runs in the second half of the song.

I had heard something like it before. ‘The Chain’ is a song from Fleetwood Mac’s best-selling album ‘Rumours’. ‘The Chain’ is unique in being the only song credited to all five members of the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac lineup: Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Stevie Nicks; this is partly due to the fact that John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are generally not songwriters.

Singing but not talking

The band has used the song as a signature, citing the lyric, “Never break the chain.” According to interviews on the writing of Rumours, the final section of “The Chain” beginning with a bass progression was created by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. It seemed like an ending, not a beginning. Stevie Nicks had written the lyrics separately and thought they would be a good match; she and Christine McVie did some reworking to create the first section of the tune. To complete the song, Lindsey Buckingham recycled the intro from an earlier song from his duo with Nicks, “Lola (My Love)”, originally released on their self-titled 1973 album.

Their relationship was imploding in a major way at this stage which is why if you listen carefully you can hear Lindsey breathe the expletive ‘f**k’ quietly and forlornly in the first few seconds of the song. Thanks to its use as an incredibly popular TV theme tune (for the BBC’s Formula One coverage), the ending bass line is one of the most recognisable in the world, and although not released as a single, everyone knows the song.

Never break the chain

The song itself has a basic rock structure, although it has two distinct portions: the main verse and chorus, and the outro. The song is essentially rock, but shows the influence of hard rock, folk, and country. The song also uses a banjo to play the famous riff.

The song starts Side two of Rumours and is one of the record’s more complex compositions. A Christine McVie demo, “Keep Me There”, and a Nicks song were re-cut in the studio and were heavily edited to form parts of the track. The whole of the band crafted the rest, piecing it together like a patchwork quilt; John McVie provided a prominent solo using a fretless bass guitar, which marked a speeding up in tempo and the start of the song’s final third.

Treat yourself to the following  live video performance:

Elusive like a skittish pony

Elisabeth Maurus has been forged in the deep south of America, along the banks of the Mississippi. Known as Lissie, she has created an amazing debut album ‘Catching A Tiger’ on Columbia and the single ‘In Sleep’ was released on 5th April 2010. The album, recorded late last year with Jacquire King (Producer: Kings of Leon, Tom Waits), is diverse, rich and stands outside time. There is American folk, rock, country, even soul but the underpinning gold standard is her mainlining emotion and raw passion. Less a tiger, hearing the album is like trying to catch the legendary chestnut mare. It paused, flares its nostrils and then heads for the hills. Palomino trails.


She is the real deal. Her grandfather was an international barbershop quartet champion, her great-grandfather a train-jumping hobo. She herself is all wrapped up in midwestern city she grew up in, where not much happened until she created some noise. Lissie sounds like Stevie Nicks and Chrissie Hynde and a little like Sheryl Crow, but there is and anger in her music that keeps drawing me back to the Rumours era Fleetwood Mac.

Now hidden away in a farmhouse somewhere in California, she has captured my attention since the ‘Why You Runnin’ EP from the end of last year. There’s genuine warmth to ‘In Sleep’, with its country/rock crossover sound, emotive vocals and swaggering chorus line. It closes with one of the most electrifying guitar runs from Eric Sullivan that I have heard since the halcyon days of Fleetwood Mac and the fretwork of Lindsey Buckingham – which is why this post is dedicated to the power, the passion and the eternal flame that magically has been passed on to this sandy haired rock minstrel.

See a live version of  ‘In Sleep’ here:

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