Countdown

Background and Commentary

“‘Countdown’ is the surging, shifting closer on Signals that was inspired by a trip the band took to Cape Canaveral in April 1982 to watch the liftoff of the space shuttle Columbia from the VIP area, Red Sector A. The song’s video would be memorable for its NASA-authorized space footage.”—Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure

“It was an amazing thing, an amazing site to witness. I’ve never heard anything so loud in my life. Your pants are flapping, you could feel the ground vibrating, and this was three miles away. That’s the closest you could get. We decided right then that on the next album we’d like to do something.” (Harmonix)—Alex in Merely Players

“‘Countdown’ didn’t work at the time but led us forward. It was a first attempt at a documentary, taking real life and putting it into a song.” (Modern Drummer)—Neil in Merely Players

“Geddy was later to say that the song came across like a textbook, but it does have drama, and is not dull. The moment comes alive. Here is a band that’s always been fascinated by technology trying to describe a leap forward in man’s development.”—
Bill Banasiewicz, Rush Visions

Geddy plays the solo on keyboards. “I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. I do a little improvisation on keyboards, but not much. I stick to business with the keyboards.” (Keyboard)—Geddy in Merely Players

“Dedicated to astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen, the NASA audio excerpts as well as the footage in the video promo are provided by Gerry Griffin, a director at NASA at the time.”—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

Lyrics

Lit up with anticipation
We arrive at the launching site
The sky is still dark, nearing dawn
On the Florida coastline

Circling choppers slash the night
With roving searchlight beams
This magic day when super-science
Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams

Floodlit in the hazy distance
The star of this unearthly show
Venting vapors, like the breath
Of a sleeping white dragon

Crackling speakers, voices tense
Resume the final count
All systems check, T minus nine
As the sun and the drama start to mount

The air is charged
A humid, motionless mass
The crowds and the cameras
The cars full of spectators pass
Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife
Technology: high, on the leading edge of life

The earth beneath us starts to tremble
With the spreading of a low black cloud
A thunderous roar shakes the air
Like the whole world exploding

Scorching blast of golden fire
As it slowly leaves the ground
Tears away with a mighty force
The air is shattered by the awesome sound

Like a pillar of cloud
The smoke lingers high in the air
In fascination
With the eyes of the world
We stare

Tablature (Bass)

By Sean Jones

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

e q q q e 64xe e e e e s s e e e e e e e s s e e e e e q e e
||————-||——————-|——————-|—————
||*———–*||——————-|——————-|—————
||*———–*||-5-5-4-5-5-4-4-5—|——————-|—————
||–0-0-0-0-0–||—————–5-|-3-3-2-3-3-2-2-3-2-|-1-1-0-1-0-1—

e e s s e q q e e e e q e e e e e e q s s e e e s s e q s s e
–|—————|—————|—————–|——————-
–|—————|—————|—————–|——————-
–|———–2-3-|-5-5-4-5-4-5—|—————–|——————-
0-|-3-3-3-3-5—–|————-5-|-3-3-2-3-2-2-3-2-|-1-1-1-0-1-0-0-1—

e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e
–|—————–||——————-||-||——————-||—–
–|—————–||*—————–*||-||*—————–*||—–
–|-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-||*-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-*||-||*—————–*||—–
3-|—————–||——————-||-||–5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5–||—–

E s q E s q e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e q e e e
||—————||—————–|—————–|—————–
||*————-*||—————–|—————–|—————–
||*————-*||—————–|—–4-5-7-5-4-5-|-7-7-7-7-7-7-7—
||–3-3-3-3-3-3–||-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-|-5-7————-|—————–

e e e q q e e e e q e e e e e e Q q q E s e e q Q q e e
|————-|—————|———–||—————||———–
|————-|———5—4-|-4———||*————-*||———–
|-7-5-5-5-7-5-|———–5—|—5—7—||*————-*||-3-3-3-3—
|————-|-5-5-5-5——-|—–5—7\||–1-1-1-1-0-1–||———–

e e e e e h Q Q q Q Q q Q Q q Q Q q Q Q q Q Q q h Q
–|———–||——-|——-|——-|——-|——-|——-|——–
–|———–||——-|——-|——-|——-|——-|——-|——–
–|-3-3-2-3-3-||-5-5-5-|——-|——-|—–2-|-5-5-5-|——-|——–
3-|———–||——-|-3-3-3-|-1-1-1-|-3-5—|——-|-3-3-3-|-1-3—-

e+ h h e e e h Q e+ h h e e e h Q e+ h q e e
–|—————|———-|—————|———-|—————
–|-11:———–|-4:——-|-11:———–|-4:——-|-11:———–
0-|-8-:—–3-2-0-|-4:—–0-|-8-:—–3-2-3-|-4:—–0-|-8-:—–3-2—
–|——-1——-|—-1-3—|——-1——-|—-1-3—|——-1——-

e e e h Q e+ w e q q q e 12xh+Q e Q e e e e e Q q q s
——|———-|—||————-||——-|————-|————
——|-4:——-|—||*———–*||——-|————-|————
3-2-0-|-4:—–0-|—||*———–*||——-|-7—7—7-7-|————
——|—-1-3—|—||–0-0-0-0-0–||-0—7-|—7—7—–|-5-5-5-5—-

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.

Tutorials

“Countdown” guitar cover

“Countdown” bass cover

“Countdown” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 6, 2011.

 
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