Friday, December 11, 2009

Same Old Lang Syne

It is the time of year that radio stations feel the need to play Dan Fogleberg's "Same Old Lang Syne" about once an hour.

The other night driving back from Charleston on a dark strech of I-77 I hit the scan button 3 times and there it was pushing painfully through my speakers.

I can't help but think they are wearing this song out. Yes, I'm one of those who hate the song, and I expect there are thousands like me who think it comes too close to home.

I have been there and it does bring about an "old familiar pain" one that I enjoy to some extent, but not over and over again.

A love long past, and a relationship that was so strong that even a causal meeting sparks those feelings again.

But we as so many others know it wasn't to be and never can be. But still there's that what if? And the acknowledgement that life continues to slip quitley by.

Given the first person narrative of the song, you may have wondered if it is reflective of Folgeberg's own experience.

Fogelberg confirmed 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."

After Fogelberg's death in 2007, the Peoria Journal-Star reported that the old lover referred to was Jill Greulich (formerly Jill Anderson) who attended Woodruff High School with Fogelberg.

Maybe the fact Dan Fogleberg died in 2007 surprised you as much as it did me. He was only 56, and died after a 3 year battle with prostate cancer.


Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn't recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totalled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness but neither one knew how

She said she'd married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I saw doubt or gratitude
She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly but the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness but neither one knew how
We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence, another 'auld lang syne'

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out and I watched her drive away
Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain...

Makes you think doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

I am one of those who can listen to this over and over. I have been listening to this song for 20 years and yearning for that chance meeting.

Then, as I imagine such an encounter, I also imagine the pain that would be dredged to the surface, and the potential pain that it could cause so many... children, spouses, parents. So I just allow this song to be what it is, year after year; a wistful, nostalgic remembrance for what might have been.

Anonymous said...

Hummmm me too!