Tusk

Why don’t you ask him if he’s going to stay
Why don’t you ask him if he’s going away
Eh…

Why don’t you tell me what’s going on
Why don’t you tell me who’s on the phone
Oh…

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!
Ay-ee…
Just tell me that you want me!
Ay-ee…

Tusk!
Just say that you want me
Ay-ee…

Don’t me that you…

Tusk!
Real savage-like
Uh!

Tusk!
Tusk!
Tusk!
Tusk!

(Lindsey Buckingham) © 1979 Now Sounds Music (ASCAP)

This is the first music from the album that the world heard when it was released as a single. It became a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and U.K., and versions of the main guitar and drum riff appear on soundcheck tapes—labeled simply “Stage riff”—from as far back as 1975.

Mick: “My dad had just passed away and I went to see my mum, who lived in the south of France, and it was all pretty crazy. The first night I was drinking like a fish and I got woken in the morning, with an outrageous hangover, by the local brass band playing outside my window—a thing they do every weekend in a lot of places in Europe. It was like the pied piper: the whole village, old fisherman, kids, people in wheelchairs, all following this band, going ‘round and ‘round the village. Just as I thought I’d get back to sleep, the band would march past again. In the end I thought, Fuck it, I’ll keep on drinking. So I sat on the veranda with my brandy at 8 o’clock in the morning and started to think, What a cool thing, involving everyone in the village, bringing people together, a celebration. That’s what we should do on that track. Who might be the best brass band in L.A.? The USC marching band was touted, and I sold the idea to the band. John was uncontactable, off sailing somewhere, when we got the chance to record and film the band, so we took a cardboard cutout of him to Dodger Stadium to be in the video.”

Lindsey: “On some level this song was the embodiment of the spirit of the album. Riffs were a big thing for me, and Mick was always one to pick up on the potential of that. Christine helped me on this with some chords. The drum track is a loop. We found a 15-second section we liked and made a circular loop of two-inch tape that went across the room. We let it run for ten minutes and put the song over it. It was Mick’s idea to include the marching band. It was a great thing for USC. Not a particularly hummable song in the normal sense, but it functioned as a commercial piece, and it’s a killer moment in the live show.

I can’t say that I remember a strategy for it appearing at this point on the album. But because it stood alone, in terms of how it was done and with the marching band, if you were to stick it in too early it might blow too many cookies too soon. It feels like a capper of sorts.”

Tusk Spanish single cover
“Tusk” Spanish single cover

Chart Performance

“Tusk” was the lead single from Tusk. Achieving international chart success, the song reached No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and was as high as No. 3 in Australia. “Never Make Me Cry” was the b-side song.

In Spanish-speaking countries, “Tusk” was translated as “Colmillo” and the b-side “Never Make Me Cry” as “Nunca Me Hagas Llorar.”

Country Chart Peak
Austria 6
Australia 3
Canada 5
France
Germany 7
Ireland 15
Japan
Netherlands 10
New Zealand 4
Spain
UK 6
U.S. 8