Decades after it became one of the most baffling title tracks of all time, Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” seems to be enjoying a minor resurgence. It was brilliantly featured in a tension-filled sequence during the pilot of the new Cold War-era TV series The Americans, and is also the subject of a quick analysis at The Onion’s AV Club.
In pointing me to the AV Club piece, my buddy Chris Allen called it “strangely underwritten for the AV Club,” which is certainly true. I am not very conversant in the language of music criticism (certainly not as much as Chris is, as his ongoing Beatles song-by-song reviews prove), but I feel like I could have said a hell of a lot more about it.
For one thing, the song is ONLY odd when considered in the continuum of Fleetwood Mac’s mostly flawless pop-oriented singles, where Buckingham’s ambitions were often muted by Christine McVie’s mainstream sensibilities and Stevie Nicks’s pensive, longing romanticism; taken for what it is, Tusk, in all its unbridled intensity and inventiveness, is par for the course for about a quarter to a third of the songs on Tusk the LP, and completely indicative of the style and quality of musicality on every Buckingham solo album.
For all the comparisons made between Brian Wilson’s music and Buckingham’s, there’s no question that balls-to-the-wall crazy is the most significant musical element Buckingham inherited from Wilson, sometimes to little good effect, but sometimes, like with Tusk, to sheer genius.