Written by L. Buckingham

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! Tusk! Don't say that you love me! Just tell me that you... Tusk! Real savage-like... Tusk! Tusk! Tusk, tusk, tusk!

Live Version Appears on The Dance (1997)

WEBMISTRESS speculates:

Here we have a jealous Lindsey. Mick has speculated that the word "tusk" has a sexual connotation, and that it had to do with his and Stevie's relationship. They had tried to hide this affair, not only from Lindsey but from Mick's wife as well! All the secrecy probably infuriated Lindsey, as he eventually guessed what was happening. After all, why doesn't Stevie tell him "what's going on"? Why isn't she curious about who Mick's other woman is, who's "on his throne"? BINGO! SHE'S the other woman on his throne!

I think the lines "Don't say that you love me! Just tell me that you want me!" are the heart of the song. Lindsey seems to be mocking Stevie here, saying that she just wants "comfort sex" from Mick and couldn't care less about him otherwise. He doesn't think Stevie really loves Mick - she's just lonely now that she's dumped Lindsey (it's Not That Funny when you're lonely, right?) and she's using Mick as a....well, ahem, a "tusk."

In fact, he feels it's so much about sex that it's no better than two savages going at it "real savage-like." (It's said that this line angered Mick and Stevie so much that Lindsey doesn't say it in live performances. Surprising, really, since Stevie pretty much took all his other over-the-top lines about her! Maybe it was Mick who was more touchy.) Now, maybe I just have a dirty mind, but it sounds to me like some of the sound effects in the background sound like gruntin' and groanin'! That, once again, emphasizes the sex aspect.

But why does Lindsey care so much anyway? Why does it matter whether or not Stevie really loves Mick? Lindsey just spent the whole album insisting that he and Stevie are more than over - but how much did he mean it if she and Mick still make him crazy? It seems here as if he even WANTS to believe it's just sex, almost taking comfort in the fact that there's no love involved. Hmmmm.

P.S. Am I just crazy, or is there a voice in the beginning that says, "How are the tenors, Ronnie?" Was this some USC marching band clip?


RICK speculates:

I was a trumpet player in the SC Band when we recorded TUSK (our part, anyway) and the video in Dodger Stadium.

You're not crazy...I'll have to listen again close, but it's something like "Tune up the Tenors [Saxophones], Tony" (Might be Tubas, instead of tenors). Dr. Art Bartner (still the band director at SC, I think) was telling our arranger, Tony Fox, to "tune" one of the instrument sections after we marched into the stadium, but before we actually started to record in the infield. They mixed in some of the sounds from the day we recorded...including some yelling and screaming we did as we entered the stadium, into the final track cut.


BRANDON speculates:

I am 100% sure that the clip at the beginning of Tusk says, "How many tenors coming in?" Trust me on this.


JIM speculates:

I think you're reading way too much into it about Lindsey and Stevie's relationship. I don't think Mick and Stevie would have or continue to perform the song with the group if they felt the song was about them. The earlier album reflected the breakup of Lindsey and Stevie, since that time their works reflected other relationship issues with other individuals. Some of Lindsey's songs are frankly just not that deep.


LENNY speculates:

'Tusk' might be an alternative spelling of 'Tsk', as in, 'Tsk, tsk, Stevie!' an exclamation which adequately expresses Lindsay's disappointment and disapproval.


MARK speculates:

The song "Tusk" is obviously a collage, not a scripted work. If you've ever tried putting together a pastiche of sounds in the studio (or even on a computer) the result is a random collection of whatever you have on hand. It's easy to read some meaning into it, but I really think that's often a projection by the listener. If someone tried to read meaning like this into my work , I would probably laugh and consider myself lucky for the attention, but the stupid, speculative gossip would really piss me off if I were the subject of as much gossip as the members of Fleetwood Mac, even 25 years later.

Tusk....perhaps a reference to the marching band playing on the track?

U_niversity of

That's still speculation - but it makes a hell of a lot more sense that a phallic reference to sex or Mick's penis! Some people have so little talent that the best they can do is obsess on noted musicians and cheapen their work.

As I remember, the track was created around a loop of Mick's drumming to begin a live show, speeded up. Buckingham talks about running the tape around the fingers of four people in the corners of the control room. That doesn't sound like a hidden meaning as much as an experiment; an attempt to break out of the very celebrity-popstar bag some people want to put Mac in, even today.

Get over it, people. It's just a song. Paul is NOT dead. I think some of you have way too much free time.


LEIGH speculates:

In Mick Fleetwood's autobiography, he writes that "Tusk" "refers to a jocular term of affection for the Male Member." I think that pretty well settles that.

I guess I must be a "person of little talent," but I fail to see how speculating on song lyrics "cheapens the work of noted musicians." Stevie writes in the liner notes of her
Enchanted box set, "here is your chance to hear them all the way through, and again, make up your own little movie. Maybe one of these songs may have an answer-in-waiting for you. I hope so--you know I love that." Maybe I just have too much time on my hands, (and so must you Mark, or you wouldn't be browsing this site) but Mark (in your own words and the words of the Eagles) GET OVER IT!!!


BRAD speculates:

I've recently read Mick Fleetwood's autobiography, where he takes up quite a bit of time to explain the album "Tusk" and the song of the same name. "Tusk" was an inside joke between the band members before a song was written. "Tusk" was, in fact, a reference to the penis. If you listen to the song it's easy to see the song is all about lust and casual sex (between Stevie and Lindsey maybe? Maybe Stevie and Mick?). For example, the lines "Don't say that you love me; Just tell me that you want me"... To me that's a direct translation to "I just want to have meaningless intercourse with you, no strings attached". Anyway, when the rest of the band told Stevie the follow-up to Rumours was going to be called Tusk she threw a fit and threatened to quit the band (I assume she just thought it was too vulgar)... but she obviously didn't follow through with that.


BARBARA speculates:

I just wanted to make a couple comments and say that I agree 100% with the WebMistress regarding the song "Tusk" and also that I thought I was the only person in the world who thought that in the beginning of the song a voice does say "How are the tenors, Ronnie?" I'm still convinced that is what is being said. I went back to listen to the song after I read all the speculations and you can't tell me any different. Also I wanted to mention that on almost every speculation I have read no matter what the FM/Stevie/Lindsey song it is the WebMistress that has the most accurate and one that makes sense.


Tusk | BN Albums