Legendary Drummer And ‘Ukulele Virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro
Honor Christine McVie On The Late Fleetwood Mac Singer’s Birthday With Touching Instrumental Version of “Songbird”
Pre-Orders Begin Today For Newly Remastered Versions Of McVie’s Final Two Solo Albums, Available In Various Formats On November 3
LOS ANGELES – Mick Fleetwood, the legendary drummer and co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, celebrates the memory of his beloved bandmate Christine McVie, who died last November, with a poignant instrumental version of her signature composition, “Songbird.” This rendition features the extraordinary talent of ‘ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and is available today, on what would have been McVie’s 80th birthday. LISTEN HERE.
Also today, Rhino revealed plans to release newly remastered versions of McVie’s final two solo albums, Christine McVie and In The Meantime. CD, vinyl, and digital versions of both albums will be available on November 3, along with a new Dolby Atmos mix of In the Meantime. Pre-order HERE.
Today’s release of “Songbird” was years in the making. Fleetwood and Shimabukuro, who both live in Hawaii, have been eager to collaborate for over a decade. When the opportunity finally arose this spring to record some music at Fleetwood’s studio in Maui, it was Shimabukuro who suggested they record “Songbird.” Fleetwood recalls, “We cut it in April, and it turned out beautifully, but there was no plan yet to release it. But when I heard about Christine’s upcoming birthday, it felt like the right time to share this as a tribute to all the lovely music she created, both on her own and with Fleetwood Mac.”
“Songbird” holds a special place in the hearts of Fleetwood Mac fans around the world, and McVie’s impassioned vocals have made it an enduring classic since its debut on Rumours in 1977. That’s why Fleetwood says he was initially cautious about reinterpreting such a cherished song. “When something is that well known, it becomes hallowed ground to a certain extent. But when we did it, I remember there was a hush when we listened back, and we felt that we had touched on something.” At that moment, Fleetwood says, he felt McVie’s presence in a powerful way.
In his heartfelt dedication at the end of the instrumental, Fleetwood adapts a lyric from McVie’s original. He says, “As the songbird sings, now from the heavens, to you Christine, I wish you all the love in the world. But, most of all, I wish it from myself.”
Surprisingly, “Songbird” wasn’t the only Fleetwood Mac song inspiring them in the studio. The drummer reveals that the track’s soft, insistent rhythm was influenced by another instrumental piece, “Albatross.” Written by the band’s founder and guitarist Peter Green, the song topped the U.K. charts in 1969. Fleetwood describes the songs as musical siblings. “They’re as simple as can be, but Peter Green always used to say, less is more.”
Shimabukuro says it was an honor to record “Songbird” with Fleetwood. He recalls the experience, saying, “His haunting drum groove transported me to a place filled with love and peace. It was a very special moment in the studio that I will never forget.”
Fleetwood commends Shimabukuro’s remarkable ability to balance audacious technical prowess with profound emotional sensitivity on the recording. “He has certain echoes he uses that make it sound like different melody parts all being played at the same time. He’s really astute in the way he put it together. And all that was done in one take with no overdubs.”
Fleetwood says the continued public outpouring of love for McVie since her passing is well deserved but believes it would have surprised her. “Christine was a North Country girl, and she would have no idea why they were closing down stadiums during half time and putting her picture up. I don’t think she really realized how powerful her music was, still is, and will be. And ‘Songbird’ certainly represents all of that.”
About Jake Shimabukuro
Over the past two decades, Jake Shimabukuro has proved that there isn’t a style of music that he can’t play. While versatility for any musician is impressive, Jake showcases his transcendent skills as he explores his seemingly limitless vocabulary – whether it’s jazz, rock, blues, bluegrass, folk, or even classical – on perhaps the unlikeliest of instruments: the ‘ukulele. Called “one of the hottest axemen of the past few years [who] doesn’t actually play guitar” (Rolling Stone), Jake Shimabukuro has become one of the most exceptional and innovative ‘ukulele players in the history of the instrument—an artist who has drawn comparisons to musical titans such as Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis.