Let's Reconsider Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne"
Only one holiday song is worth a precious fraction of your rapidly dwindling time on earth: Dan Fogelberg’s 1980 ballad “Same Old Lang Syne,” a light-rock radio classic that deconstructs all the usual eggnog conventions and reassembles them into a proper work of art — something like a Raymond Carver story crossed with “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” crossed with T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” Like the holiday season itself, Fogelberg’s song is simultaneously hilarious, sad, beautiful, corny and transcendent.
The eye-rolling pun in the song’s title hints at its larger virtues. Like the classic “Auld Lang Syne,” this is a deep meditation on eternity and mortality, the cosmic joke of human love in the face of stony time. Like the expression “same old,” however, it is modern and wry. And like the pun itself, the song is a bit of a groaner. But this, it turns out, is one of the big jobs of adulthood: to find wonder in the groaning.
From “Letter of Recommendation: Dan Fogelberg, ‘Same Old Lang Syne’” by Sam Anderson for the New York Times, 2016; Photo by Joel Bernstein
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