Tag Archive | Dan Fogelberg

Same Old Lang Syne

The Iconic song with a twist

December 28, 2021

The end of December is, traditionally, a time to reflect on the year just past. No song is more associated with the ending of the year and the start of a new one than Auld Lang Syne.

It somehow seems appropriate that the origins of this poem and song are steeped in the mysteries of time. It was plucked from obscurity by Scottish poet, Robert Burns, in 1788. He set it to music and added verses which most closely approximate the song familiar to all.

The Infallible Wikipedia shares, of course, a plethora of information:

“Robert Burns sent a copy of the original song to the Scots Musical Museum in 1788 with the remark, ‘The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.’ Some of the lyrics were indeed ‘collected’ rather than composed by the poet; the ballad ‘Old Long Syne’ printed in 1711 by James Watson shows considerable similarity in the first verse and the chorus to Burns’ later poem, and is almost certainly derived from the same ‘old song’. To quote from the first stanza of the James Watson ballad:

Scottish Poet Robert Burns

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.

On old long syne my Jo,
On old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On old long syne.

It is a fair supposition to attribute the rest of the poem to Burns himself.

There is some doubt as to whether the melody used today is the same one Burns originally intended, but it is widely used in Scotland and in the rest of the world.

Singing the song on Hogmanay or New Year’s Eve very quickly became a Scots custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. As Scots (not to mention English, Welsh and Irish people) emigrated around the world, they took the song with them.”

The song was popularized in the United States by Guy Lombardo who “is remembered for almost a half-century of New Year’s Eve big band remotes, first on radio, then on television. His orchestra played at the Roosevelt Grill in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from 1929 (snip) to 1959, and from then until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Live broadcasts (and later telecasts) of their performances were a large part of New Year’s celebrations across North America; millions of people watched the show with friends at house parties. Because of this popularity, Lombardo was called ‘Mr. New Year’s Eve.’”

You would have had to have been born in a cave and lived in the wilderness your entire life to never have heard the song. In December 1980, another artist came along who wrote an autobiographical song which succeeded in connecting yet another generation to the concept of remembering, with a wistful nostalgia, days and people since gone.

Dan Fogelberg’s addition came about following a chance encounter with an ex-girlfriend on Christmas Eve in 1975. They run in to each other in the grocery store and then proceed to share a six pack of beer while sitting in her car at a mini-mart. It is, I think, the very ordinariness of the encounter which juxtaposes so very well with the emotions just under the surface.

Cover for the 1980 single

Somehow Fogelberg – who claimed to have begun the song more as a joke – ended up transforming the opening music from the 1812 Overture into a nostalgia filled classic that ends with Auld Lang Syne.

Perhaps the thing that makes the song resonate with so many people is that one recognizes – as one matures – that life is a series of binary choices. A first love, for example, is just that. A young person simply does not have the advantage of time and experience to understand that once a relationship is over it is likely to stay that way.

Fogelberg – in his song – encapsulates that moment of recognition and the emotion which comes with it:

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’

It is, though, the final few bars of the song which stops the listener and creates the ennui associated with endings… he leaves the car to walk back to his parents’ home and the ‘snow turns in to rain.’ It is at this moment when Fogelberg uses Auld Lang Syne to such devastating effect through a soulful, blues filled saxophone rendition.

Although many regard the song as a Christmas one due to its taking place on December 24th, I’ve always thought it belonged to the last week of December when, as we take down our calendars and put up the new ones, we reflect on the year just past and remember those who are no longer with us.

So here’s a toast to Auld Lang Syne with a short verse which is one of my favorites:



Dan Fogelberg

August 13, 2019

Gone Like The Sand and The Foam

The year was 1979 when this artist entered the American consciousness with a song destined to become a wedding favorite. No doubt he never intended for that to be the case but said of the song, which he wrote while vacationing in Maui, that he was “”lounging in a hammock one night and looking up at the stars. It just seems this song was drifting around the universe, saw me, and decided I’d give it a good home.”

Dan Fogelberg 1980The song was Longer. The artist Dan Fogelberg, who was born on August 13, 1951.

Although Fogelberg had another hit song, Part of the Plan in 1974, it was the song Longer which was his most commercially successful song. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1980 and created a fan base of twenty-something young women.

This was due to a number of factors: first, he was an incredible songwriter. His true gift was as a storyteller who could set his tales to music.  He encapsulated human emotion into concise, memorable lyrics which managed to tug at one’s heartstrings and, often, produced ennui. His voice possessed qualities which carried the listener to another place and time, evoking sentiment and meaning with his rich vocals. And, because so many of his songs were written from personal experience they were believable and relate-able.

In a short time period after Longer – which did top out at number 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts – a series of memorable hits followed.

According the Infallible Wikipedia:

Innocent age.jpg“The Innocent Age, released in October 1981, was Fogelberg’s critical and commercial peak. The double album included four of his biggest hits: “Same Old Lang Syne”, “Hard to Say”, “Leader of the Band”, and “Run for the Roses”. He drew inspiration for The Innocent Age from Thomas Wolfe’s novel Of Time and the River. A 1982 greatest hits album contained two new songs, both of which were released as singles: “Missing You” and “Make Love Stay.” In 1984, he released the album Windows and Walls, containing the singles “The Language of Love” and “Believe in Me.”

While Dan Fogelberg was not a flashy performer, his concerts capitalized on the very qualities I listed above. I was privileged to see him perform live twice. The first time was in 1994 for an acoustic concert at the Paramount in Seattle. It was just Dan and the instruments he played, primarily guitar and piano. He connected with the audience and was passionate about his music but also about his commitment to environmental causes.

The second time was at a Summer Nights at the Pier concert in the early 2000’s. I’m not entirely sure which year it was as he played there in 2000, 2001, and 2002 from what I’ve been able to research.

What I do know is that the hubby and I experienced a magical Seattle evening on Elliott Bay enjoying Dan Fogelberg as he shared his music.

Sadly, he was diagnosed with advance prostate cancer in May 2004 and died on December 16, 2007.

But what gifts he shared with the world. He released 16 studio albums and 21 singles. His greatest success was on the Adult Contemporary charts. Of the 21 singles, four went to number one and a total of 12 were top ten hits.

As one of my favorite ‘hitchhikers’ he often keeps me company in my treks back and forth across the mountains. There are so many great songs that it’s difficult to pick just one. So I’ll pick two instead.

The first one is easy as it was the song of his I fell in love with and that would be Longer. Despite having friends who suggested that having it sung at our wedding would be too predictable (it charted in March 1980 – I was married in August that year), my sis-in-law did a beautiful rendition and the song will forever have a tender spot in my heart.

The second one is also from his Innocent Age album. It was never released as a single (although it was the B-side of Run For The Roses) and, I would guess, most people have never heard it. It is, however, a gorgeous song which showcases his talent. The song is titled The Sand and the Foam and here’s a YouTube link. No flashy video. Just pure, unadulterated music by my favorite artist.

And a couple of links: