Same Old Lang Syne
|"Same Old Lang Syne"|
|Single by Dan Fogelberg|
|from the album The Innocent Age|
|B-side||"Hearts and Crafts"|
|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 an autobiographical 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 alongside 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 she married for security instead of love. The narrator then says that as a musician he loves performing but hates touring.
There were three toasts (two people, six cans of beer) - two toasts to 'innocence and now', and a third toast to 'innocence and time'. After a third 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" possibly from their break-up at an earlier time in their lives. Alternatively, the "old familiar pain" could reference the agony high school lovers often experience when they have to end the evening and go home. 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. Fogelberg stated in interviews that he didn't recall precisely whether the chance meeting with his ex-girlfriend was in 1975 or 1976, though he leaned toward 1975.
After Fogelberg's death from prostate cancer in 2007, the woman in the song, Jill Anderson Greulich, came forward with her story. Greulich told of how she and Fogelberg dated in high school. As she explained to the Peoria Journal Star in an article dated December 22, 2007, the pair knew each other in Peoria, Illinois as part of the Woodruff High School class of 1969. After graduation, each attended different colleges. Following college, Greulich married and moved to Chicago, while Fogelberg moved to Colorado to pursue a music career. While back in Peoria visiting their respective families for Christmas in 1975, Fogelberg and Greulich ran into each other on Christmas Eve at a convenience store located at 1302 East Frye Avenue in the Abington Hill district. Greulich confirmed that together, they bought a six pack of beer and drank it in her car for two hours while they talked. Five years later, after the song was released, Greulich heard the song on the radio for the first time while driving to work, but kept quiet about it, as Fogelberg also refused to disclose her identity. She stated that her reason for remaining quiet about her involvement in the song's narrative was that coming forward would disrupt Fogelberg's marriage.
Greulich cited two inaccuracies in the lyrics: her eyes are green, not blue, and her husband was a physical education teacher, not an architect. In regard to the line, "She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn't like to lie," Greulich will not talk about it, but by the time of the song's release, she and her husband had divorced.
Association with Christmas
"Same Old Lang Syne" is frequently played on radio stations during the American holiday season. The song's opening lyrics reveal that the narrative takes place on a snowy Christmas Eve and they end with a second acknowledgment of snow. Since the song's release, these references and the musical quote of "Auld Lang Syne", a song traditionally sung on New Year's Eve, have increased the song's popularity during the month of December.
- Dan Fogelberg: Piano, bass, electric piano, lead and background vocals
- Russ Kunkel: Drums
- Michael Brecker: Soprano saxophone
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- "Frequently Asked Questions". Dan Fogelberg. 2003. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
- Luciano, Phil (2007-12-22). "'It's a memory that I cherish'". Journal Star. Peoria, Illinois. Archived from the original on 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
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