I just read where Snooki of Jersey Shore fame will not be descending with the ball into Times Square tonight. Apparently, she was supposed to ride the ball all the way down and then pop out of it or something, I don’t know. Anyway, it’s not going to happen. Something about safety issues and permits. Well, we can all sleep easier now.

Which brings me to the whole New Year’s thing. During my thirty years as a professional musician, New Year’s Eve was without question the biggest night of the year. Along about Thanksgiving, I became aware of the approaching New Year’s, and my adrenaline started rising. By Christmas, the countdown had begun, so that as I took the stage on December 31, I was stoked. The crowds were always big, always rockin’, and invariably ready for a good time. I was ready to give it to them.

Since I retired from playing music full-time a few years ago, something came over me. I no longer see New Year’s Eve as a date circled in gold. In fact, since I stepped off the stage for the last time in 2003, I have never gone out on New Year’s Eve. I see the ads in the papers for big celebrations at restaurants and clubs, often including dinner and champagne at midnight, for one inclusive price. Back in the day, I used to scour each ad to see what the competition was up to, who was playing where, how high was the cover charge, and so on. Now, I skip over them as if they were a list of the tax rolls. Tonight, I’ll be dropping in at a friend’s house for a little camaraderie. It’ll be my first New Year’s Eve night out since 2003.

Bringing in the New Year still has currency with me, though. I get the whole idea of it. Another page in my life turns, as old photographs and memories fade a little deeper into the mist. Another year goes by without making those visits I had promised. Days grow shorter. And yet, somehow, I always have the notion that the New Year brims with potential, that it will in some way be better than last year, and that I will be a better man for having lived through it. That’s been the case for most years, even this last event-filled one.

So here’s to 2011, and let’s tip one tonight for auld lang syne.

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