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Dan Fogelberg’s Same Old Lang Syne

Dan Fogelberg Home Free

Dan FogelbergAmerican singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg’s angelic and evocative voice, paired with his smart, eclectic songs, captivated a generation of music lovers from the moment his debut album Home Free was released in 1972.

Fogelberg’s 1981 double album The Innocent Age introduced his fans to the melancholy, timeless, New Year’s staple,  “Same Old Lang Syne.” Even if you are not familiar with Fogelberg and his dozens of wonderful easy-listening offerings, chances are you have heard “Same Old Lang Syne” around the New Year, every year, since its release.

Sadly, Dan Fogelberg died the morning of December 16th, 2007, at 6:00am. He was just 56 years old.

“He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side. His strength, dignity, and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him.” —DanFogelberg.com

By Paul Zollo from Portrait: The Music of Dan Fogelberg from 1972-1997 (4 CD box set):

…On New Year’s Eve 1980, Dan sat in his Colorado home sequencing the songs for his next album. But no matter what order he’d try, he knew something still seemed to be missing. So in a move he knew could be construed as professional suicide, he decided he had more to say, and told Irving he was going back to work. The new record, he announced, would have to be a double album.

The record company, hungry for a new product, was predictably furious about this. “Same Old Lang Syne” had already been released and people around the world were screaming for a new record. Even so, [manager Irving] Azoff supported him wholeheartedly, and informed the company that they’d simply have to wait.

Dan spent six more months working, and the songs that emerged were astounding, including “Ghosts” and “The Reach”. Again, it was a case of doing what he needed to do for the music — as with Twin Sons — that led him to the greatest success of his life, The Innocent Age.

As his twenties came to an end, the album marked the closing of one chapter, and the opening of another. It also afforded him the opportunity to fulfill some musical fantasies, such as recording with musical heroes who were his inspiration during the river years, such as Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris and Chris Hillman, all of whom show up on The Innocent Age. Another fantasy fulfilled was the formation of a new band, the kind of group that prior to this level of success he could realize only in the studio, with Russ Kunkel planted firmly behind the drums.

Released in the fall of 1981, The Innocent Age became an unprecedented success for a double album, which are often too expensive to become hits. This was a big exception, generating not one but four Top 20 hits in all — including “Same Old Lang Syne”, “Run For The Roses”, written for the Kentucky Derby, “Hard To Say”, and the touching tribute to his father, “Leader Of The Band”. “I still think most highly of that album,” he said. “Making it was certainly one of the high water marks of my life.” With multiple radio hits in constant rotation around the globe, Dan and the band sold out 20,000 seat arenas all across America. As he put it, “It was the big time. Big time rock and roll. That was really the peak. You couldn’t get much bigger than that, really. It was amazing.”…

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“Dan Fogelberg wrote about the human condition. In “Same Old Lang Syne” he captured the pain of reconnection and high school romance. I can’t think of another number that comes close. I quote the lyrics to myself all the time.

“Maybe it’s fitting that Dan died during the winter season, just before Christmas Eve. So we’ll remember him at this time. When we’re not out on the beach being fabulous, but inside in front of the fire, thinking.

“Dan Fogelberg thought. I became a fan long after his last hit. It just took me that long to discover his eloquence. I will continue to play “Same Old Lang Syne.” But now it will sound even more bittersweet.” —Bob Lefsetz

Dan Fogelberg’s Same Old Lang Syne

Same Old Lang Syne Lyrics
(Words and Music by Dan Fogelberg)

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole 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 checkout stand
The food was totalled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged.
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
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how.

She said she’d 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
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’…

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

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