Contributors of interpretations: Becky, Joanne, Villavic, Tracy G, Hillary, and Lauren
Christine McVie is an expert at writing upbeat pop tunes, with a catchy beat and beautiful harmonies, that at the same time are stories of love and war. The cheerfulness of the music often hides the pain of the words. She can drown her sorrow in beautiful melodies that might fool a passing listener. A popular tune of Christine's in Fleetwood Mac circles, "Why," is an example of this-"And the hurt I feel will simply melt away...Why is it all wrong/Why don't you love me/Why don't you just be strong?" In "Say You Love Me," from 1975, she sings "When the loving starts and the sun goes down and there's not another living soul around"- she must wait to be alone with this man before he will truly express himself. In "Brown Eyes," off of Tusk, she asks "And are you just another liar?" Even songs that have become anthems of optimism, such as "Don't Stop," disguise her pain at an ended relationship- "I know you don't believe that it's true/I never meant any harm to you." One of her song's titles that was an album title in 1974 also demonstrates this pattern of expressing her pain-"Heroes Are Hard to Find." "Over and Over" was chosen as the lead-off song for Tusk, Fleetwood Mac's 1979 follow-up release to Rumours. The song doesn't have the escalating guitar intro that sucks you in that "Second Hand News" had; it doesn't have the immediate vocals of "Monday Morning;" it doesn't have the strong, instant blend of guitar, drums and keyboards that entraps the listener in "Emerald Eyes," all lead-off songs on previous Fleetwood Mac albums. What it does have, however, is a thick, smooth, flawless sound that winds itself around you without startling you; it draws you in without missing a beat. The song is not too fast, not too slow. In many ways, it is absolutely perfect. And it doesn't take much to realize why it was the first song on Tusk. Christine's pitch-perfect vocals blend just right with the music, making it an amazing example of her songwriting ability and the overall talent of Fleetwood Mac.
Could you ever need me
And would you know how
Don't waste our time
Tell me now
All you have to do
Is speak out my name
And I would come running, anyway
Throughout all of Christine's lyrics, she is the one willing to make all the concessions necessary to make the relationship work. In this particular relationship- quite probably the one with Dennis Wilson, who is the main subject of her songs on Tusk and Mirage- she needs to know if he loves her even a little. Will he ever wake up in the middle of the night needing her? When she's not there, will he miss her? Would he even know how to express this need, or is she always going to have to be making sure she's there for him? Constant maintenance of a relationship can drain a person incredibly. Christine doesn't want to be wasting her time on him if he's never going to feel the same about her as she does about him. She doesn't want him to waste his time on her if he's not willing to go all the way. She's waiting for the smallest sign from him that he does need her, and he does love her. She'll always be there for him-also on Tusk, she promises Dennis (or maybe John) that "I'll never make you, I'll never make you, I'll never make you cry." Dennis' self-destructive behavior is hurting Chris emotionally; maybe it is an eerie reminder to her of John McVie's alcoholism. She is leaving the decision up to Dennis if he wants to pursue this relationship with her or not; she will not force him into anything.
And I said,
Could it be me, could it really really be?
Over and over
She repeats the question to herself-"could it really really be?" Is it really her? He has decided to love her? She is in a sort of shock. Perhaps Ledgie Tracy G very simply put it best-"Christine has a self-esteem problem." Or is she asking Dennis this question-could he love her? But it is something that she has to keep asking, and asking, and asking. She wants it to be her, she desperately needs his love, but again, the decision is his. However, the "would you know how" from the first verse comes to mind again-will he be able to express his love for her? It is as if she is prompting him for the words she longs to hear. Maybe she's still in shock that she loves him; in "Think About Me," she tells him "Didn't mean to love you/Didn't think it would work out." She might be almost regretting that love-but she can't take it back, she fell in love with him, and it's done.
Don't turn me away
And don't let me down
What can I do
To keep you around
Christine is telling him what she wants from him-she wants him to let her love him, she wants him to love her in return. And then she asks what he wants from her. What can she do that will make him love her? No longer is there the image of her waiting for him to call her name; it has been replaced by an image of her practically begging him to let her stay, she'll do anything if he'll allow that. She has changed her mind somewhat from the first verse-now she is putting even more pressure on herself. That's all she really wants, to be able to stay and to be loved by him; it adds to the sadness that she will have to make him love her; she'll have to earn that love from him. Again, in "Think About Me," this idea is raised-"I believe that you really want me/But it's not easy, just to give in/So let yourself go, and let love begin." She is telling him to relax, take a deep breath, and simply enjoy their relationship. She'll be the one concerned with making sure everything goes alright. She will be sure to not do anything that will drive him away, because she loves him that much.
The chorus repeats at this point in the song, emphasizing Christine's incredulity that she is special enough to be loved by someone like Dennis. She needs assurance from him that she is the one he wants; she wants to make sure that he wants this relationship as much as she does. At the same time, maybe Christine is asking herself, "am I really going through all this again? Am I really in the same position as before?" There is a despondency to the refrain when viewed in this light. She recognizes this familiar situation, but might feel trapped.
Over and over
Over and over.
It's as if Chris has fallen head over heels in love with him; there is definitely an image of her almost tumbling down a hill. As in 1975, "I'm over my head...but it sure feels nice." She knows she is probably investing too much in this one person, and that she is probably going a little too out of her way to make sure he's happy. But, she's so much in love with him that this is the only way to do it that feels natural to her. Although the two would eventually break up, Christine-and Fleetwood Mac-would remain very close to Dennis Wilson until his drowning in the early '80's. He was a man who captivated her, a man who made her feel things she hadn't felt in a long time, if ever. Sometimes, if we take a close look at her lyrics, they seem almost desperate-after all, in this song alone she's asking "What can I do to keep you around?" But then, her feelings aren't at all desperate-she just wants someone who will love her as much as she loves him.. However, it appears for a while there, she was stuck in a vicious cycle when it came to relationships! She would let the man in so close he could touch her soul, and then when he ruined the relationship, it left her devastated. This song shows us her exhaustion at being caught in this cycle, a cycle that would not be broken until Eddie Quintela came into her life. She fell in love, "over and over" again, and finally she fell in love with a man who felt the exact same way about her. And it proved to be a lasting and rewarding relationship for her; one that her fans can look at and smile, because we know, she is no longer wondering what she must do to make him stay-she knows this man will be there for her, "over and over." Her lyrics in this song are heart-wrenchingly honest, and it says a lot about her that her life experiences didn't make her bitter, or make her write hurtful, resentful songs. Rather, she turns her pain into soothing, calming prayers (an example of this is "Songbird") that ease the listener. She is a master at her art, which is why she has been successful for so many years-she survived through it all, through the failed marriage, the bad relationships, the devastating deaths, the numerous incarnations of Fleetwood Mac. She has something no other person has, enough of a down-to-earth feel so that one feels like she could be their next-door neighbor, and enough stage presence to completely captivate an audience. The haunting music and the guitar that sounds as if it is crying, along with her voice, are more than enough to completely captivate the listener in this beautiful song. It prepares you for the experience of listening to Tusk; quite simply, it is a standout in Christine's vast array of work.
(The interpretations to these lyrics were compiled through discussions on the message boards of the Penguin, The Ledge. It is entirely possible that the artists had something completely different in mind.)