As Spun in the Eliot House Record Room
Tucked away in the shelves of the Record Room resides a cultural artifact
By AIDAN FITZSIMMONS and MARISSA GARCIA
Nestled within Eliot House is a Record Room, vaguely scented of old album covers. Upon its hardwood floors– blanketed with an ornate red carpet– sit two threadbare sofas, angled to face the centerpiece of the room: a record player. Behind it, two bookshelves span the entirety of the wall. In an endearing contrast to the grandeur of the darkened-wood aesthetic, the bookshelves are lined with jagged cut-outs of white paper labels, imperfected throughout the years, guiding visitors through the vinyls. On the first shelf, “CHOPIN” is scribbled out with red and replaced with “BUXT”– the overt corrections to these labels are an affectionate nod to how cherished the vinyls have been over time. Ostensibly, the collection seems to be exclusively classical, until a visitor navigates all the way to the bottom right shelf in the second bookshelf, where a burst of modern vinyls await. One night, Eliot residents bonded over one such selection in particular: the self-titled album, Fleetwood Mac. The record room bolsters curiosity in the classical and modern music canons alike, and this discovery was one such moment, inspiring students to engage with the band’s work even further.
Chico Payne, a resident of K Entryway of Eliot House, has taken to the collections of the Record Room and has even begun his own collection with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, drawing upon the vinyl hub here in Cambridge. “Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is my transformative experience at Harvard.” “From the opening vocals of “Second Hand News” to the closing strums of “Gold Dust Woman,” Rumours is a phenomenal record. There’s a reason why Rumours was the soundtrack of 1992 just as it was in 1977, and still today.” He picked up the record from Stereo Jack’s Records on Massachusetts Avenue and rightfully gave it its first spin within the Record Room.
Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours, which recently celebrated its 42nd birthday on February 4th, 2019, consistently ranks highly on every major “best albums of the 70s” or simply “greatest albums of all time” lists (see: the Onion’s recurring Grammy headline “Album That Has Nothing On Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ Wins Grammy Award”). The band, which was going through a tumultuous period of personal strife, breakups, and partying while recording, crystallized all of their separate feelings into a masterpiece, which, due to their half-British half-American lineup, represents both the apotheosis and the destruction of the Anglo-American rock relationship that defined the 1960s and 1970s. Every single song on this record is a 10, and a potential single. Second Hand News? Bop. Dreams? Stevie Nicks’ Big Witch Energy is on full display, and their most popular single. Never Going Back Again? The most whistle-able song for any mosey. Don’t Stop? Bill Clinton got elected because of this song. Go Your Own Way? I have danced to this song by myself dozens of times, and the guitar solo still knocks me over. Songbird is a straight up dose of chills, dude, like, instant goosebumps. The Chain is the only song all of them made together, which is obviously symbolic, and tragic, because they broke the chain; or, perhaps, it is optimistically forward looking, because maybe in a way they did not, and maybe you are part of the chain; plus, the guitar climax is the ultimate hair-shaking mood. You Make Loving Fun? A song that you can and should have sex to, while also being romantic: rare! I Don’t Wanna Know? Catchy as hell, cute harmonies. Oh Daddy? Oh, daddy! Gold Dust Woman is the weirdest song on the album, and its recording session involved the breaking of glass, Stevie Nicks wrapping her whole head (sans mouth) in a black scarf to more deeply access memories and imagination while she sang, and a lot of 4 a.m. cocaine. Finally, Silver Springs, which the band criminally kept off of the original album, is possibly the most emotionally scarring song I have ever heard, and the rawest breakup song on any album on the subject. Lindsey Buckingham, you quite literally will “never get away from the sound of a woman who loves you,” and neither will we.
It serves as a reminder that the Eliot House Record Room engages students with the musical culture of record collecting.
Aidan Fitzsimons ’20 ([email protected]) looks forward to yet another listen in the near future.
Marissa Garcia ‘21 ([email protected]) hopes to swing by the Record Room more often.