- Same Old Lang Syne
"Same Old Lang Syne" is a
Dan Fogelbergsong about old lovers meeting on Christmas Eve, from his album " The Innocent Age". In early 1981, it peaked at nine on the Billboard Hot 100Chart. It is a narrative balladtold in the first person. This song is frequently played during the holiday seasonand is integrated with other traditional Christmas songs. This makes the song one of Fogelberg's most popular hits.
The narrator (Fogelberg) is browsing through a grocery store on a snowy Christmas Eve. Coincidentally, he is reunited with a former lover who does not recognize him at first glance. Reaching to embrace, she drops her purse, and the two laugh until they cry; this moment foreshadows a bittersweet departure.
Afterwards, they buy their groceries but experience awkward pauses during their conversation. They eventually decide to have a drink somewhere, but are unable to find any open bar. Settling on a
six-packpurchased at a nearby liquor store, they proceed to drink it in her car.
The pair toast innocence of the past as well as the present, all framed in the song's chorus. The subsequent verse describes the two pushing through their initial awkwardness and discussing their current lives. The lover went on to marry an architect and is seemingly content with her life. However, the verse hints otherwise by stating "She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn't like to lie," implying that she married for security ("She'd married her an architect who kept her warm and safe and dry") rather than passionate love.
The narrator then reveals his thoughts about his life, after the lover confesses she'd seen his work in a record store. He discusses his career, revealing that he loves the performing aspect but hates the alienation of travel.
Eventually the conversation stalls as the protagonists find they have run the course of their conversation. They exchange their goodbyes, the woman kisses him then he gets out of the car. As she drives away, the narrator contemplates the good times they'd had long ago, hence the meaning and reference to the song's title:
Auld Lang Syne. At the song's most bittersweet moment, the narrator experiences yet another "auld lang syne," as he is reunited with "that old familiar pain" from their break-up at an earlier time in their lives. The snow that surrounds him then turns to rain, signifying a happy time turned quite melancholy.
The song ends with a
soprano saxophonesolo by Michael Breckerthat includes the melody from the original Auld Lang Syne.
The melody phrase at the beginning of each verse ("Met my old lover at the grocery store...") was taken by Fogelberg from Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture".
Given the first person narrative of the song, many listeners have frequently wondered how valid the song really is. Fogelberg himself had confirmed on his official website that the song is indeed autobiographical::"In 1975 or 76 I was home in Peoria, Illinois visiting my family for Christmas. I went to a convenience store to pick up some whipping cream to make Irish coffees with, and quite unexpectedly ran into an old high school girlfriend. The rest of the song tells the story."cite web | url = http://www.danfogelberg.com/faqs.html | title = Frequently Asked Questions | work = Dan Fogelberg Official Website | accessdate = 2007-09-21 ]
After Fogelberg's death in 2007, the Peoria Journal-Star reported that the girlfriend referred to was Jill Greulich (nee Anderson) who attended Woodruff High School with Fogelberg. cite web | url = http://www.pjstar.com/stories/122207/PHI_BF98B7KI.054.php | title = It's a memory that I cherish | work = Peoria Journal-Star Website | accessdate = 2007-12-27 ]
Association with Christmas
"Same Old Lang Syne" is frequently played on radio stations (particularly those having
oldiesformats) during the holidays. The song begins mentioning Christmas Eve and ends with the acknowledgment of snow, a common weather occurrence during the northern hemisphere winter. Apart from the initial (and final) reference, there is no further association with the holiday or holiday season. However, since the song's release, both the reference in the title and the musical quote of Auld Lang Syne(traditionally sung on New Year's Eve) as the epilogue have encouraged the song's popularity during December.
*Dan Fogelberg: Piano, Bass, Electric Piano, Lead and Background Vocals
Russ Kunkel: Drums
Michael Brecker: Soprano Saxophone
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