The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The newest TikTok stars? Fleetwood Mac, a tranquil skateboarder and a jug of cranberry juice.

Lindsey Buckingham, left, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac celebrate winning a Grammy Award for their album "Rumours" in Los Angeles in 1978. The album's song "Dreams" reentered the Billboard chart recently after a viral TikTok video. (Richard Drew/AP)

Why, you might wonder, did the Democratic candidate for governor of Montana post a video showing him hanging out of the sunroof of a car gliding down the highway as he drank from a carton of Ocean Spray cranberry juice, all soundtracked by Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”?

Why not?, one might respond. Sounds like Mike Cooney found a pretty great way to spend his time.

His inspiration was Nathan Apodaca, a 37-year-old TikTok user who goes by @420doggface208. Apodaca has been posting TikToks for about two years, starting (as many users do) with lip sync videos, dances and trends.

“After a while, I started doing my own thing,” he told The Washington Post. “I started listening to music from the past that reminded me of my mom and dad.”

In most of the TikToks, Apodaca’s just vibing to different tunes. Courting old man rhythm to “Rock Steady” by The Whispers. Pirouetting to “Mashed Potato Time” by Dee Dee Sharp. Gliding across a field to “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by the Fugees.

They are popular but not famous, usually racking up around a quarter million to a half a million views. So he didn’t expect much in late September when his car battery died on the way to his job at a potato factory, and he grabbed his longboard to make the trip. Seeing the opportunity for a TikTok, he lip-synced Stevie Nicks’s first verse of the 1977 tune while rolling down an off-ramp in Idaho Falls, and sipping from a jug of Ocean Spray.

He watches the road, takes a big gulp and mouths:

It's only right that you should

Play the way you feel it

Who can say why a TikTok takes off? Maybe it’s the sheer calmness Apodaca’s face displays, which stands in stark contrast to — looks around — the rest of 2020. A moment of respite from a punishing news cycle, a short meditation on how things used to feel. The only certainty is that the TikTok went viral, racking up more than 26 million views. It caught the eye of the band, who tweeted, “We love this!”

“I didn’t think people were gonna vibe to it on a level like this,” Apodaca said.

Mick Fleetwood enjoyed it so much that he created a TikTok account to post a faithful re-creation of the clip, along with the caption, “@420doggface208 had it right. Dreams and Cranberry just hits different.”

Ocean Spray CEO Tom Hayes also grabbed a board and joined in on the action, captioning his video, “Did we just become best friends?”

The video breathed second life into the song that once spent 31 weeks at No. 1. “Dreams” racked up more than 8.4 million streams in the U.S. last week and reentered the Billboard Global 200 chart at No. 51.

Some fans of the video were so inspired that when they found out Apodaca lives in an RV, they sent him donations.

“Those are blessings. Donations are always cool, but I wasn’t ever asking for a handout,” he said. But the money was rolling in, eventually topping $20,000. At first he gave $5,000 to his mom and the same to his dad. But it kept coming, and his father needed a new truck, so Apodaca bought him one.

“It’s insane. I’m being able to bless those I love around me with the simple things in life we were just weren’t blessed with before,” Apodaca said.

It wasn’t only his fans, either. Ocean Spray gifted him a red pickup truck filled with — what else? — cranberry juice.

“We wanted to gift Nathan with something of importance to him — something we knew he needed,” Hayes told AdWeek. “We can’t wait to see him driving it around as he listens to his tunes.”

Apodaca feels a bit overwhelmed. But he hopes he can share some of his joy.

Relax, calm down,” he advised. “We need to just vibe out together, and realize we’re all just one. Unity will help us overcome 2020.”