From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Mick Fleetwood

Written by Lindsey Buckingham
Recorded by Fleetwood Mac

“Tusk,” the song, was actually born during Fleetwood Mac sound checks with Lindsey (Buckingham) playing the basic riff on stage on his guitar. He would work on it, playing it as we jammed.

Then we went into the studio and Lindsey brought out the riff and crafted the beginnings of a song. This was during the making of “Tusk,” the album. Like things often happen in the studio, the song drifted off the radar and was put aside. Lindsey wasn’t satisfied with where the song was going, so it was relegated to not being on the front line to be on the album.

We had a break during our recording and I went to Fleur du Cap in Bras, a fishing town in northern France. My father had just passed away and my mother was there with my sister.

A few days after I arrived, after a horrendous night with a brandy bottle, I was awakened one morning by what I came to realize was a brass band. I had a terrible hangover but gave up on sleep and went out onto the veranda to listen to the band and watch people following them as if they were the Pied Piper. The band walked around the perimeter of the town and every twenty minutes or so kids, men, women, people in wheelchairs, followed the band. That is when and where I got the crazy idea to get a brass band to play on Lindsey’s song.

When I got back and went into the studio and told everyone my idea, they thought I was nuts. Lindsey, however, thought it was a cool idea. I immediately went to USC (University of Southern California) and spoke with Dr. Bartner, who was the head of the music program and the marching band. We played the song at a band meeting and asked them to come up with their own arrangement for their part, which they did. It became a very important experience for them.

There were nearly 200 kids in the USC Marching Band and we recorded them live to tape — in Dodger Stadium. It was an insane idea but we pulled it off! What’s very nice is that it has become a multi-generational tradition that has made this song a staple in the USC Marching Band repertoire ever since. It is played at every game there. From time to time, I’ll bang some drums with them during halftime. I keep meeting kids in school now who are still stoked about the song.

In the old days when we performed this song (which we still do) at large venues like the Forum in Los Angeles, we had the band march down the aisles, sometimes accompanied by the Trojans’ horses.

More recently, Radiohead performed with the USC Marching Band on the Grammys telecast and they referenced Fleetwood Mac preceding them.

From that quirky morning in Normandie, the song lives on. It could never have seen the light of day otherwise. People react the way I imagined when I saw the people following the band when I was in Bras. My being suitably insane came off — I’m quietly happy about that.


Why don’t you ask him if he’s going to stay?

Why don’t you ask him if he’s going away?

Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?

Why don’t you tell me who’s on the phone?

Why don’t you ask him what’s going on?

Why don’t you ask him who’s the latest on his throne?

Don’t say that you love me! Just tell me that you want me!


Just say that you love me!

Don’t tell me that you…

Real savage like!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!

Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!


Written by Lindsey Buckingham. © Lindsey Buckingham

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