Articles - - Adventures Through the Mines Of Mellow Gold 15
January 10, 2007
Adventures Through the Mines of Mellow Gold 15

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Excerpt From: "Adventures Through the Mines Of Mellow Gold 15"

Break out your bobby socks and poodle skirts, everybody: Mellow Goldís goiní í50s! "Magnet and Steel," a #8 hit for Walter Egan in August of 1978, had an unmistakable retro sound, but that doesnít mean itís not Mellow Gold. In fact, Egan was well-connected in the Mellow World: most notably, he was part of the Washington, D.C. scene that included, at the time, Bill and Taffy Danoff (Starland Vocal Band), and was offered a spot in Linda Rondstadtís band (when he declined, the position went to Mr. Andrew Gold instead). But perhaps Eganís most famous connection, MG or no MG, would be to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

After meeting Buckingham at a party and becoming friends, Egan asked him to produce his album Fundamental Roll. Buckingham didnít really have time for such things, having just joined the Mac, but did agree to be involved on the fringe of production here and there. Nicks provided backing vocals. Egan was no dummy, and gave them both full production credits.

A couple of years later, Buckingham had some free time, and fully produced Eganís album Not Shy along with veteran Mac producer Richard Dashut. Not Shy was the album that included "Magnet And Steel." And hereís where things get interesting.

Both Nicks and Buckingham were in the studio for various parts of the Not Shy sessions. Egan claimed that Buckingham was great to be around during this period of time, except when Nicks was there as well, as the couple were not getting along at the time.

Now, itís no secret that Buckingham and Nicks have had, shall we say, not the healthiest of relationships. But what probably didnít help the situation was the fact that Nicks and Egan wound up sleeping together for a period of time during the sessions for Fundamental Roll. After she recorded backing vocals for his song "Tunnel Of Love" (no, not that "Tunnel Of Love"), Egan became downright smitten. He drove home from the sessions, and on the way, saw a purple Lincoln Continental with the license plate "Not Shy." Struck with inspiration, he went home and wrote "Magnet And Steel." Thatís right: "Magnet And Steel" is about Stevie Nicks. And guess who sings those backing vocals? Thatís Lindsey on the low, Stevie on the high. Awkward!

Of course, the Egan/Nicks relationship didnít last. (My wife: "Why would she date a guy named Walter?" My response: "I dunno, why would she date a guy named Lindsey?") Regardless, word is that she was honored the song was about her, although admittedly, she preferred the first draft, "Microphone Stand And Scarf."

And because nobody can get involved with the Mac without getting a little incestuous, Christine McVie adds some backing vocals to Eganís 1983 album Wild Exhibitions (he insists it was purely professional). StillÖshudder.

But all this talk of "Magnet and Steel" and we havenít even discussed the song itself! Over the course of time, there have been many ways to describe the attraction between two people. "For you are the magnet and I am steel" is a little unwieldy, no? I mean, unless by "steel" heís talking about his johnson. If thatís the case, then I think itís okay. But judging by the way Egan looked and dressed at the time, as well as the musical climate surrounding him, Iím guessing he meant it more emotionallyÖwhich, of course, is the Mellow Gold Way. Q.E.D.

Maybe Iím wrong, though. Egan seems pretty damn confident. Take a look at the video: Egan knew he was hot shit. You need high self-esteem to actively show off your pink jacket.

The rest of the lyrics are supremely innocuous so I donít even think itís worth our time dissecting them. Instead, letís make fun of the music! Specifically, letís talk about that guitar solo. Egan plays the most simple solo Iíve ever heard. Walter! You have LINDSEY FUCKING BUCKINGHAM (Lindsey Fuckingham?) in the studio with you, and you choose to play a solo that specifically just plucks out every note of the verse vocal? Maybe this was an homage to í50s guitar playing, but I just plain think it sucks. That being said, you gotta love that chorus. Itís catchy. (How do I know? Because youíll be singing it to yourself in about 20 minutes.) Iíll be honest with you, though: I donít really hear much Buckingham or Nicks in those backing vocals. However, Egan insists itís them. I guess weíll take his word for it. After all, we are all but magnets, and he is steel. If steel wore a pink jacket.

If youíre feeling like you need more Buckingham in your Egan, check out this cover by Matthew Sweet, from the Sabrina The Teenage Witch soundtrack. Heís all over those vocals, and thatís him on lead guitar. Itís pretty damn good.

But back to Egan: heís still a performing musician. Check out his myspace page, where one of his newly-added friends is "Big Cockô - The Hardest Band In The Land." Heís also a substitute teacher in Cool Springs, Tennessee, looks a bit like Ted Kennedy, and still wishes the Mac had asked him to join them when Buckingham left. Turns out that in that case, they were magnets and he wasÖI donít know, a metal that isnít magnetic, like steel when nickel is added to it. Or something. Okay, moving on!

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