Fleetwood Mac co-founder/drummer Mick Fleetwood is honoring his late bandmate Christine McVie on what would have been her 80th birthday today (July 12), with an instrumental cover of her classic track “Songbird” featuring ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. McVie died last November after suffering a stroke and the effects of cancer.
Fleetwood and Jake Shimabukuro both reside in Hawaii and had intended to collaborate for years, and when they finally found time in April, it was Shimabukuro who suggested giving “Songbird” a try. Says Fleetwood, “it turned out beautifully, but there was no plan yet to release it. But when I heard about Christine’s upcoming birthday, it felt like the right time to share this as a tribute to all the lovely music she created, both on her own and with Fleetwood Mac.”
Fleetwood admits he had reservations about covering one of McVie’s most beloved songs, which appears on the legendary 1977 Fleetwood Mac album Rumours and was a staple of the band’s concerts for decades. “When something is that well known, it becomes hallowed ground to a certain extent,” he says. “But when we did it, I remember there was a hush when we listened back, and we felt that we had touched on something.”
Adds Shimabukuro, “[Fleetwood’s] haunting drum groove transported me to a place filled with love and peace. It was a very special moment in the studio that I will never forget.”
Meanwhile, Rhino has set a Nov. 3 release date for remastered versions of McVie’s last two solo albums: 1984’s Christine McVie and 2004’s In the Meantime. The projects will be available on CD, vinyl, and digital, with In the Meantime boasting a new Dolby Atmos mix. A previously unreleased track from the latter, “Little Darlin’,” is out today as well.
“Christine was a North Country girl, and she would have no idea why they were closing down stadiums during half time and putting her picture up,” Fleetwood says. “I don’t think she really realized how powerful her music was, still is, and will be. And ‘Songbird’ certainly represents all of that.”