The Real Story Behind Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams'

When the album Rumours was released, Fleetwood Mac was already an established band. In fact, Rumours was already the band's 11th release. Building on the massive success of their 1975 release, Fleetwood Mac, (the first album to feature the team of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks), Rumours was a notoriously difficult experience for all involved. From the band's leader Mick Fleetwood's messy divorce to the implosion of the relationships between John and Christine McVie and the aforementioned Buckingham and Nicks (via Far Out Magazine), the recording of Rumours goes down in rock history as one of the most tumultuous. While the songs on Rumours tell the tale of the breakups occurring within Fleetwood Mac, none do so more personally than the song "Dreams."

A No. 1 hit, Stevie Nicks received the inspiration for "Dreams" during mixdowns for Rumours (via Medium) circa 1976. During one particularly long session, Stevie grabbed a keyboard and tape recorder, then broke away. Nicks would find herself in "a black-and-red room, with a sunken pit in the middle where there was a piano and a big black-velvet bed with Victorian drapes," per Blender. In this room, a studio that Sly and the Family Stone used (via Medium), Stevie found a drum machine. Initially fumbling through drum patterns, Nicks found one that felt right. Picking up the keyboard, Nicks began to sing. By the end of her session, Stevie knew she had something special. "It was a rough take, just me singing solo and playing piano. Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled," quoted the Daily Mail.

The recording of Rumours was filled with drama

While the song details the breakdown of the relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, with the line "Players only love you when they're playing," according to Smooth Radio, being directed at Buckingham, the song also reflects the larger picture of the band's relationships at the time. Husband-wife team John and Christine McVie were in the middle of a divorce during the recording of Rumours. After eight years of marriage, the pair avoided each other at all cost during the recordings (via Biography). Meanwhile, the band's founder, Mick Fleetwood, was dealing with problems of his own: His wife at the time, Jenny Boyd, was having an affair with a close friend of Fleetwood. And, of course, there's the legendary problems between Nicks and Buckingham.

But, what often gets overlooked during this time period isn't just the external pressure that made the recording of the single "Dreams" and the album Rumours difficult. It was internal drama as well. According to Mamamia, Nicks was in love with Mick Fleetwood from the start, only adding to the volatility that was the Buckingham-Nicks pairing. Then, there were the drugs. Via Far Out Magazine, Stevie Nicks had a terrible cocaine habit that was only surpassed by Mick Fleetwood's cocaine addiction. Mick Fleetwood told Ultimate Classic Rock early in 2021 that his cocaine use was far worse than Stevie's. "I remember not working for two years. I can't even remember what I did. I was the party animal in the band, for sure. I would venture to say Stevie was a close second," he said.

Fleetwood Mac's No. 1 spot

The band somehow managed to get it together enough and put the final touches on Rumours in early 1977. Released on February 4, Rumours reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart on April 2, 1977 (via Best Classic Bands), and remained there for the next 31 weeks. Stevie Nicks' "Dreams" was released on March 24 and reached the top spot, for one week, on June 18. 

At the end of 2020, Stevie Nicks sold the majority of her song catalog for $100 million, reported Rolling Stone. The deal, which has Nicks reportedly selling off 80 percent of her catalog, included some of her biggest hits:  "Landslide," "Edge of Seventeen," and "Dreams."  "Dreams" would see a resurgence again in 2020 when TikTok personality Nathan Apodaca recorded a video of himself riding a skateboard to the legendary track. The clip, featuring Apodaca swigging Ocean Spray while skating along to the Fleetwood Mac song, went viral with millions of views worldwide (via NY Daily News). Which just goes to show, great songs just never die.