During the late 70s, Fleetwood Mac became one of the biggest groups in America. People clamored for anything that the individual members touched or had ‘rumoured’ to. Bob Welch’s solo career was at once successful by and cursed from this association. The one time Mac mate released Sentimental Lady in late 1977 from his first solo album, French Kiss and it hit #8 in January of 1978 as the Rumours LP was continuing its torrid pace of 31 weeks at #1. If anyone should have benefited from F-Mac’s supergroup status, it was definitely Bob.
In 1971 Bob Welch was asked to join Fleetwood Mac after their guitarist Jeremy Spencer left them for a religious cult. It was Bob who managed them through this tumultuous transition of an aimless blues boogie band to a more commercial rock sound, which would pave the way for the mellow WestCoast pop they would become famous for. He endured the ‘fake Mac’ scandal, wherein their manager created a fake Fleetwood Mac band, unbeknownst to the original members, and tried to pass it off as the real thing on tour. [The band stayed together and recorded 3 albums under the name, Stretch.] They fired their manager, moved to L.A., where Bob got their label, Warner Bros, to renew their interest in the band. They had their biggest album to date in 1974, Heroes Are Hard To Find before Bob decided to leave the band after years of stress. Had Bob never talked the band to move their home base to L.A. from England, they would never been in the fortuitous position to meet Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks and go on to sell millions of albums while snorting coke off of each other.
But when Fleetwood Mac got inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, every former member of that band from 1968 to 1987 was inducted. Except Bob Welch. Ain’t that gratitude? Just goes to show you that the RNR HOF is more interested in holding grudges than respecting history .[see Chicago]
I bring all of this up for a reason. Bob wasn’t riding coattails in 1977 when this 45 came out, even though Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham played on the record. They were, at the time, helping an old friend. Not just Bob, but the song, which was originally recorded on F-Mac’s Bare Trees LP in 1972. This time a verse was dropped, Lindsey added a nice baroque-sounding 12-string intro and Bob had a hit.
I don’t know why I liked this song as a kid. Maybe it was Bob’s voice. The song was so mellow & gentle, but Bob’s voice as angry and distant as it was soft. Or maybe I was hung up on what the 14 joys were. It could have been that I was picking up on the fact that this wasn’t a love song as much as it was a love lost, love returns, love will leave again song. Plus I always felt a little sleazy edge to Bob Welch (when I wasn’t confusing him to Boz Scaggs) that made me think he was taunting the sentimental lady.
There is one sentiment I agree on with Bob every time I hear this song: we live in a time where meaning falls in splinters from our lives…