Thursday, June 11, 2015

Songwriting 101: Dan Fogelberg's "Same Auld Lang Syne"

If there was a Pandora station for "Waiting Room Super Hits", "Same Auld Lang Syne" would be on it.  That's actually where I got the idea for showcasing the lyrics to this song.  It wafted through the speakers in the waiting room of the dentist's office like a very polite ghost from the 1970s as I thumbed through the bike reviews in Men's Journal.  If you like this song, chances are you're either over 50 and discount out of hand any song after 1985, or you're under 25 and are trying to be ironic.  If you don't fall into either of those categories, you're probably rolling your eyes.  "Dan Fogelberg?!" you ask your computer screen, "Is he being serious?"  Hell yes I am.  And I'm not wrong.

Forgive me if the tone of this entry is a tad defensive.  But this song is pretty solid even with the syrupy instrumentation.  The strings, that keyboard setting that sounds like bells and fell out of vogue not much longer after this song hit the charts, the string section - you're not listening to that anyway.  You're listening to the lyrics.  And you should be, because they're great.  Not even DF's wispy voice and Gordon Lightfoot way of pronouncing some words can't stop these lyrics.

The lyrics on this are verbose but they never feel rushed or crammed together. There's not really any sort of chorus (at least not in the traditional sense) to speak of.  But the story is vivid with carefully selected details. It is specific and puts the listener right in that place and in that moment.  The lyrics are sentimental but never corny.  The characters are likeable and have depth, and the scenario is believable. If you've ever fallen hard for someone, then I'd bet my paycheck that you could relate to this song; and it's possible you've even gone through a similar scenario:  a chance, awkward (but overall pleasant) encounter with someone you once cared very deeply about.  It's a bittersweet thing.  Now go back and listen to this song.  Read the lyrics and suspend your judgement - I swear you won't turn into a pussy.
Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stood 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 check out stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation lagged
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
We tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how
She said she's 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
We 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

No comments:

Post a Comment