On 16 February, 1980, “Sara” by Fleetwood Mac peaked at #7.
One of the more distinctive songs I’ve covered so far in this project has been Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk“, which is more a primal chant than a pop song. With “Sara“, Fleetwood Mac is again doing something unconventional, but in a much more subtle manner. You can be sitting in your car, whiling your way through a traffic jam by humming along with this song, and then it strikes you… this song doesn’t rhyme! That may not seem like a big deal, but for a song on top 40 radio, that’s unusual. You would also be forgiven if you didn’t notice when you were shifting into the chorus. This song doesn’t provide any prompts as to where it’s going: no hokey key changes, no crescendos, no dramatic pauses. It’s just a shuffle of a drum beat with a subdued, though oddly chaotic guitar strum, with elfin background vocals drifting in and out of a shimmering curtain of music, not sad, not mysterious, but certainly serious and… maybe wistful.
Or maybe those background voices are really entirely neutral and only pick up their wistful quality by association with Stevie Nicks’s lovely, lilting delivery of what is, effectively, a prose poem, saying much more about life and love in images than Kenny Loggins could say with direct statements. There’s a man, both attractive and daunting, a great dark wing in the wings of a storm, but he was a restless soul (“when you build your house, then please call me home”). And her consolation as she drowns, eagerly, in a lake of love is the knowledge that this powerful, restless heart once told her that she was his everything.
Sure, she’s a total sap, but she’s a total sap in the way everyone wants to be a total sap — dreamily and achingly. She may have lost in love, but she’s found beauty in the experience.