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By now you’ve probably been inundated with myriad versions of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and “Auld Lang Syne,” not to mention the multiple airings of U2’s “New Year’s Day.” That’s all right and good—those songs nail the romance and celebration of the day. But for me, 12/31 is about possibilities: rebounding from disappointments and embracing what’s coming up with an insane, almost unreasonable sense of optimism…at least for now. That’s why my go-to New Year’s song is Lindsey Buckingham’s “Countdown,” even if the man himself never intended it that way.
In many ways it’s nothing less than the de-facto sequel to “Go Your Own Way.” While that song is all about embracing the end of something, “Countdown” is all about the beginning.
Any of the recent Fleetwood Mac reunion gigs pay testament to Buckingham’s gift for elevating everyone and everything on that stage. This track, from his Trunkworthy third solo album, Out of the Cradle, shows you how and why he does all that. Cradle is all about his coming out of a dark period into a world where things are looking up. But you don’t need to know any of that to hear it exploding from every pore of this song. The Beach Boys exuberance of the ba-ba-ba background vocals at the chorus float behind Lindsay’s singing like he’s on the verge of something great and can’t keep it to himself.
And then you get to that guitar solo. For all his serious abilities as a writer, producer, and singer, it’s easy to forget that Lindsay Buckingham is a goddamn guitar god. And here he goes crazier and wilder and deeper than any of the players you’re used to seeing on those countless (and pointless) “greatest of all time” lists. He rips out something that just keeps building and climbing. It’s a wide-eyed climax to a song that can barely contain itself as it is. And neither can you when you hear it. You just want to run toward the future with him. Go ahead.