This quick, ten-line tune is a bright-eyed endeavour from a bad breakup into something brand new. Its quick fingerpicked folk rhythm rolls with precision. The only instruments are Lindsay Buckingham’s vocals and an acoustic guitar. High strings twinkle a treble of dancing stars, and the drop D tuning adds an oceanic depth. They lay a bed for a vocal track that means every word it says. This song is an economy of sounds that doesn’t waste a measure.
Buckingham reportedly wrote “Never Going Back Again” after his breakup with then girlfriend, and band member, Stevie Nicks. He was also in the midst of his first rebound relationship since. But the song isn’t angry, though it easily could be. All of the energy he pours into his solo vocal becomes a challenge, a dare. He dares himself not to go back. He dares himself to strive for better. He dares Nicks to have a listen. The song is a celebration of the future that kicks dirt at the past. It says, with certainty, this is the way things are now, and they’re good. “You don’t know what it means to win, come down and see me again.”
The third track on Rumours, “Never Going Back Again” carries us from the bass groove of Dreams to the positive pop anthem of Don’t Stop. It maintains the no-frills intensity that this album masterfully demonstrates as a whole. It’s not even the only one of the eleven songs without bass or drums present. Rumours is full of personal touches. Much like Christine McVie’s tracks “Oh Daddy” and “Songbird,” “Never Going Back Again” is Buckingham’s chance to pour his heart out without the input of a band on the verge of breakup. He gets to go at it alone, and boy does he deliver. Have a listen here.