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Fogelberg's "Same Auld Lang Syne" is not a Christmas song

I freely admit that this issue is an order of magnitude less important than the lame argument that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but having heard the song for the first time in a while over New Year's, I feel compelled to weigh in.

I am of course referring to Dan Fogelberg's winter of 1980 hit, "Same Auld Lang Syne."  If you aren't familiar with the tune, take a listen.  Yes, it's vintage 1970s easy listening (complete with overdubbing), but lyrically it is spot on.

It remains popular, but while the events of the song (which are based on an actual encounter Fogelberg had with his ex-girlfriend) take place on Christmas Eve, the song is really about the passage of time, not the coming of Christ the King.

I particularly like the structure of the song, which efficiently sketches a scenario that is both specific but also relatable.    The refrain is also sparingly and includes some lyrical variations, adding to the casual feel.  Finally, an instrumental solo at the end - which could have been a Christmas melody - instead reminds us once again of years gone by.

The drive to link films with obviously incorrect these is in large part a social media stupidity, where bored journalists and commentators while the hours away between spurts of fake outrage over trivialities.  One could, using the same logic, argue that The Big Chill is a college football movie, since it takes place during the fall, the cast actually plays football and is engrossed in the outcome of the Michigan-Michigan State game.

But of course that's not what it is about at all, and while it betrays a spiritual bleakness, it also is a well-crafted character portrait.  That's because it was based on actual events.

I've said it many times before, but art drawn from specific experiences inherently has more power than something created out of pure imagination.  It contains "the ring of truth," and the author's exposure to the actual circumstances of the event ensure that it presented with the proper sensitivity.

One reason why modern productions are so awful is the loss of life-experience.  Increasingly our creative class knows only what it has seen in videos or read online.  They are also chained to a series of politically correct tropes which have no basis in reality.

The truth is that life is messy and often filled with contradictions. 

This is how it is possible to simultaneously be happy with one's situation, yet still feel a pang of regret for things that didn't work out long ago.

 

 

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