Contributors to this interpretation included: Stewy, Becky, Erik, Kim, Les, Janet, Justine, Rhiannon, and Regina. (January 18, 1999)
Make Me A Mask is a bit of an oddity in the world of Fleetwood Mac. It has the distinction of being 1 of 3 songs written and produced solely by Lindsey Buckingham (the others are Goodbye Angel and Teen Beat) which were donated to Fleetwood Mac for the 1992 boxed set release 25 Years - The Chain. At the time, Lindsey Buckingham had been out of Fleetwood Mac for 5 years and had released his third solo album, Out Of The Cradle. By all accounts, Make Me A Mask was written for OOTC, but Lindsey didnít feel that it really fit in with the other songs, so he donated it to the boxed set.
Lyrically, Mask is very sad and bitter and has a less than positive feel. The songs on OOTC, on the other hand, give the feeling that Lindsey has moved on with his life and generally the songs have a much more positive attitude, even though there are sad songs on OOTC as well. Musically, Mask takes a turn from the heavily guitar-oriented feel of OOTC to something much more experimental and more typical of his work on Tusk and Tango In The Night. In a way, it seems fitting that Make Me A Mask was chosen to be on 25 Years - The Chain, because it really seems to be more of a hybrid of his Fleetwood Mac and solo works. Make Me A Mask is a beautiful, sad, and exotic-sounding song which doesnít quite fitting into either category.
So often it seemed that the members of Fleetwood Mac could more easily project their feelings through their music than they could verbally. Mask seems to be another instance of Lindsey using his music to communicate his feelings about needing to be free to express his emotions both personally and professionally. The music is repetitive and flowing with an Asian feel that is hypnotic, mysterious, and sad all at the same time, and this helps set the mood for the song. Through Mask, Lindseyís saying that he wants to hide his emotions, but the song is a traitor, for it does exactly the opposite by letting through all the emotions heís kept bottling up. The song becomes a cry of desperation which lets out much more emotion as a song than the man might ever show in person.
Make me a mask
That I can wear
ĎTill day is done
Lindsey wants to hide his feelings and emotions- simple as that. He wants to be able to put on a mask so that he can disguise his real emotions and deal with all the situations and people heís around where he really feels he should surrender to what seems the more "appropriate" emotion at the moment. He needs to have a mask to give the world the impression that heís not hurting - that the worldís not beyond his control. Itís his savior from the pain he feels during the day. Once the day is done, the night comes and the mask can be removed and he can let his emotions show again.
The wind in the trees
The falling leaves
The worldís spinning
The seasons change and the world goes on, but itís crashing down around him. The world goes on with itís never-ending cycles and itís leaving Lindsey behind on a chaotic and confusing ride Ė one where he is alone, isolated and on the verge of spinning out of control. Unfortunately, he feels emotionally out of control as well.
Make me a mask
So I can laugh
ĎTill night time comes
He wants to laugh Ė to be the person that everyone else wants him to be, but he can only do this with the help of a mask so he can disguise his true emotions. A mask would make it easier to get through the day. He could be the person everyone expects him to be. He could finally let himself off the hook and let the mask act for him until the night time comes and he can once again be the person he wants to be - the person who is free to fell whatever he wants to feel.
No more can I stay
How long must I play
This game of winning
This could be related to the music industry, the band, and Stevie. Winning isnít Lindsey's primary goal in life, and the fact that everyone else seems obsessed with it tears him up inside. Heís tired of all the games the industry plays and the tension within the band, especially since Tusk. It doesnít help that he and Stevie admittedly never really resolved their breakup and must have been spending a huge amount of effort disguising and masking their true feelings, possibly to the point where Lindsey felt he could no longer maintain the charade.
The constant need to be better and sell more - to do more, write more, do everything for the band and have it be what they want is hurting him because itís not what HE wants. Heíd rather retreat, escape and be on his own, where he can feel free and less suffocated. He wants to step back from it all and do things the way HE wants to do them.
If I had known this was only a dream
I would have awakened from this sleep
At this point the song ventures away from itís previous cyclic theme and the phrasing is extended, as if to accentuate that fact these words are the most important part of the lyrics. This is where the realization sets in that the mask might not be necessary - that instead of trying to hide he should just walk away. He can leave the darkness behind by just waking up from the bad dream - by walking away from the things that cause him to want to hide his real feelings. He sees that he can really quit the band and be free to feel whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and he can also finally leave Stevie both emotionally and physically, and begin to deal with the darkness he felt so long.
In some ways it seems that he is also explaining why he tried to stay with the band and Stevie for so long. Itís true that dreams canít bother you when you are awake - you can just forget about them, but real people and real problems are not so easy to walk away from. If it was only a dream he could have just awakened, and gone on with his life the way he wanted. Unfortunately, life just isnít that simple.
Make me a mask
So I can last
ĎTill the right time comes
He just wants to hide until the right time - the time thatís best for him to go without hurting everyone else at the same time. Until that time he has to count on the mask to help him through.
A tear in my eye
To light I fly
An end is beginning
The mask is gone. Itís time to leave - to fly to the light, to start the new beginning, but itís all bittersweet. Finally, his guard is down, the emotions show through, and the tears fall - tears of joy at starting anew, and tears of pain over leaving what was once the most guiding force in his life. Heís beginning the end of his life with the members of Fleetwood Mac and beginning a new life dictated more by his own will that the will of others.
One canít deny the parallels in this last stanza to Soul Drifter from Out Of The Cradle. "My heart was broken, my part was spoken", "And itís out of my hands, so itís off to other lands", and "Itís a new dawn, so itís so long" all reinforce Lindseyís feelings of renewed purpose that is heard in this last stanza of Make Me A Mask. Whatís different, though, is the feeling of new hope that comes through when he sings "To light I fly". He knows the time is now and he can see the "light" - a future where heís not living in the shadow of the mask.
During The Dance tour, Lindsey spoke repeatedly about how his years in Fleetwood Mac, certainly since Rumours, were wrought with emotional denial on a personal level. He and Stevie were never really able to get over their breakup because they were too busy trying to bury and ignore the hard and hurt feelings so that they could work together. He adopted another facade of emotional denial to deal with the disappointment the band felt after the finger-pointing over how Tusk was received by the public. The hurt and sadness he felt that was associated with these people and events would be the undoing of most people, but Lindsey Buckingham seems to have made it through. Certainly all the songs on Out Of The Cradle and his reunion with Fleetwood Mac show that he has found a way to live without the mask. All we can hope for is that he wonít want or need a mask ever again.
(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.)