Same Old Lang Syne
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|"Same Old Lang Syne"|
|Single by Dan Fogelberg|
|from the album The Innocent Age|
|Dan Fogelberg singles chronology|
"Same Old Lang Syne" is a song written and sung by Dan Fogelberg released as a single in 1980. It was also included on his 1981 album The Innocent Age. The song is a narrative ballad told in the first person and tells the story of two long-ago romantic interests meeting by chance in a grocery store on Christmas Eve. The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and is now frequently played during the holiday season and is integrated with traditional Christmas songs.
The narrator is reunited with an old flame at a grocery store on a snowy Christmas Eve. She doesn't recognize him at first glance and when the two reach to embrace, she drops her purse causing them to laugh until they cry; this moment foreshadows a bittersweet departure. They eventually decide to have a drink somewhere, but are unable to find any open bar. Settling on a six-pack purchased at a liquor store, they proceed to drink it in her car while they talk.
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, though it is implied that she married for security instead of love. The narrator then says that as a musician he loves performing but hates touring.
After a second toast, the conversation runs its course. They exchange their goodbyes and the woman kisses him before 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: Old Lang Syne. At the song's most bittersweet moment, the narrator experiences yet another "old 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.
As Fogelberg said on his official website, the song was autobiographical. He was visiting family back home in Peoria, Illinois in the mid-1970s when he ran into an old girlfriend at a convenience store.
After Fogelberg's death from prostate cancer in 2007, the woman about whom he wrote the song came forward with her story. Her name is Jill Greulich, and she and Fogelberg dated in high school when she was Jill Anderson. As she explained to the Peoria Journal Star in a December 22, 2007 article, they were part of the Woodruff High School class of 1969, but went to different colleges. After college, Jill got married and moved to Chicago, and Dan went to Colorado to pursue music. On December 24, 1975, they were each back in Peoria with their families for Christmas when Jill went out for eggnog and Dan looked for whipping cream for Irish coffee. The only place open was a convenience store at the top of Abington Hill where they had their encounter, located at 1302 East Frye Avenue. Today, the store is still in business and named Short Stop Food Mart. They bought a six pack of beer and drank it in her car for two hours while they talked.
When Dan Fogelberg was alive he had trouble recalling whether the meeting with his ex-girlfriend was in 1975 or 1976, though he was leaning toward 1975, the year confirmed by his ex-girlfriend after his passing.
Five years later, Jill heard "Same Old Lang Syne" on the radio while driving to work, but she kept quiet about it, as Fogelberg also refused to disclose her identity. Her main fear was that coming forward would disrupt Fogelberg's marriage.
Looking at the lyrics, Jill cites two inaccuracies: her eyes are green, not blue, and her husband was a physical education teacher, not an architect, and Fogelberg was unlikely to know his profession anyway. On the line, "She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn't like to lie," Jill will not talk about it, but by the time of the song's release, she had divorced her husband.
Association with Christmas
"Same Old Lang Syne" is frequently played on radio stations during the American holiday season. The song begins mentioning Christmas Eve and ends with the acknowledgment of snow, commonly associated with the Christmas holiday. 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
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Dan Fogelberg. 2003. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
- Luciano, Phil (2007-12-22). "'It's a memory that I cherish'". Journal Star (Peoria, Illinois). Retrieved 2011-06-14.