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Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg

Album: The Innocent AgeReleased: 1981Charted:
9
  • As Fogelberg tells it on his official website, the song is totally autobiographical. He was visiting family back home in Peoria, Illinois in the mid-'70s when he ran into an old girlfriend at a convenience store.

    After Fogelberg's death from prostate cancer in 2007, the woman who he wrote the song about came forward with her story. Her name is Jill Greulich, and she and Fogelberg dated in high school when she was Jill Anderson. As she explained to the Peoria Journal Star in a December 22, 2007 article, they were part of the Woodruff High School class of 1969, but went to different colleges. After college, Jill got married and moved to Chicago, and Dan went to Colorado to pursue music. On Christmas Eve, they were each back in Peoria with their families when Jill went out for egg nog and Dan was dispatched to find whipping cream for Irish coffee. The only place open was a convenience store at the top of Abington Hill, at Frye Avenue and Prospect Road, and that's where they had their encounter. They bought a six pack of beer and drank it in her car for 2 hours while they talked.

    Five years later, Jill heard "Same Old Lang Syne" on the radio while driving to work, but she kept quiet about it, as Fogelberg also refused to reveal her identity. Her main concern was that coming forward would disrupt Fogelberg's marriage.

    Looking at the lyrics, Jill says there are 2 inaccuracies: She has green eyes, not blue, and her husband was not an architect - he was a physical education teacher, and it's unlikely Fogelberg knew his profession anyway. Regarding the line, "She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn't like to lie," Jill won't talk about it, but she had divorced her husband by the time the song was released.
  • The single was released about 8 months ahead of the album, which was certified double platinum. The Innocent Age is a concept album consisting of a song cycle describing the many stages of life from cradle to grave. (thanks, Charles - Charlotte, NC)
  • "Auld Lang Syne" is a traditional song that is often sung on New Year's Eve. That's the reference in the title.
  • The melody phrase at the beginning of each verse ("Met my old lover at the grocery store...") was taken by Fogelberg from Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture." (To get the effect, just sing that lyric twice, slightly speeded up. Maybe add a few fireworks explosions for good measure.) This song is one of several Pop tunes that have phrases or entire melodies ripped off from classical composers - Paul Simon's "American Tune" (from J.S. Bach), Billy Joel's "This Night" (from Beethoven), among others. (thanks, Peter - Little Silver, NJ)
  • In late 2007, Dan Fogelberg died at age 56 due to prostate cancer. This was probably his best known song, and exemplified the gentle but very emotional stories his lyrics portrayed. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • Smooth Jazz giant Michael Brecker played soprano saxophone on this song. His part is featured in the ending, and is an improvised, jazzy snippet of the classic holiday tune "Auld Lang Syne." Brecker died of leukemia (a blood cancer) in January of 2007 at age 57. (thanks, Tony - NYC, NY and Annabelle - Eugene, OR)
  • In 2008, Abingdon Street in Peoria, which was the location of the convenience store where the events of this song took place, was designated "Fogelberg Parkway" in honor of the singer.
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Comments: 50

*** 'The beer was empty and our tongues were tired' ***
On February 15th 1981, "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg peaked at #9 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on December 7th, 1980 at position #75 and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #8 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
Was track eight of side one on his seventh studio album, "The Innocent Age", and the album reached #6 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
Three other tracks from the album also made the Top 100; "Hard to Say" (#7), "Leader of the Band" (#9), and "Run for the Roses" (#18)...
R.I.P. Mr. Fogelberg (1951 - 2007).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Notice in his song "Hard to Say" he sings the words "...like why each time the sky begins to snow, you cry...so you miss her when she is far away". I think these lyrics are refering to the the same person in the "Same Old Lang Syne". Notice the key word is SNOW. This would also explain the other lyrics in "Hard to Say'Scott - Spring, Tx
The tall tale s of so called time are based in the soul of the beholder as the toast is the gift of thanks, ty, ty. lifes beuti n all its reveals the key, the answer. n life cont. God Bless.Kimberly - Landing, Nj
This song reminds me a lot of being an adult and looking back at a time that was more innocent. When we're teenagers in high school (or even college students) and we have our first loves, we think we're untouchable. We could rule the world together. Years down the road, you remember all the promises you kept together, the time you spent, and the dreams you had. And when you run into them, they all come flooding back into your memory. It's the little things. For me and my first love, it's the summer breeze, the restaurant we used to work at together, the smell of his laundry detergent, a CD he used to play on repeat in his car, and his smile. I see him from time to time and I look back and fondly remember the time where we thought we were going to be together forever. And even to this day, I am happily married to a wonderful man and we have a baby on the way, but I can't help but feel a little sad when I see him smiling at me. And all I can do is look back and remember...and sometimes it's those memories that can keep you grounded. I wouldn't change a thing in my life now if I had the chance, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened with my life if Eric (my first love) and I would have stayed together. Thank you Dan Fogelberg for beautifully putting into words what a lot of us feel.Terry - Grafon, Wi
I am inclined to agree with the majority of you. I was 20 years old when I first heard this song, it was the middle of November, and here in Minnesota, it was cold - nearly Christmas time. I listened intently while it was playing on the radio - never having heard it before. When it finished, I was overcome with emotion. Some years ago, I dated a girl who, at the time, seemed to be the love of my life, but being young and wanting "freedom," broke it off. I had thought about her every now and then, wondering where she was and what she was up to. After listening to this song, our entire relationship began to play back in my mind, just like it was yesterday. It makes you wonder, what could have been? What might have been? Thought provoking for sure. As some of you have noted, the line, "just for a moment, I was back at school," resonated with you, it particularly hit home for me. I am instantly transported back to high school, when we first became friends and our relationship blossomed. She has long been dating someone else, and appears to be happy, but of course I am left with the remorse and wonderment of how things might have been. Snow, like memories, often just turn into rain, as was the case where this song took place, in Peoria, IL nearly 40 years ago. Thanks for the memories, Dan.Rob - Maple Grove, Mn
After listening to this song some more and re-reading the comments, I think Camille from OH speaks to the meaning the best and has very good insight.Earl - Coldwater, Mi
This is the song that brings back memories of my first girl friend, Terri. She was the first I held hands with, the first I dated and the first I kissed. I have harbored a wish for years of bumping into her as Dan sings about in this song. Mainly to say "I should have treated you better and I hope your life is good". A great song but sometimes hard to listen to because of "that old familar pain"Earl - Coldwater, Mi
"The snow turned into rain...." at the end of that song is the best single metaphor in all of popular music (IMO). What makes it so great is how many different interpretations and meanings it has for people. For me the snow is analogous to memories; they are crystallized, unchanging, unflowing, beautiful, suspended in time. And as T.S Elliot says: "winter kept us warm". When the snow turns to rain those memories have changed to something dynamic, something that has come back to life but is still not comfortable in that it gets us wet and we often run to get away from it. The "old familiar pain" coming back again. The last verse of that song tears me apart.Josh - Salt Lake City, Ut
Yup, this is a sad song. And very realistic, which makes it even sadder.
The line "Just for a moment I was back at school" is really emotional for me. Where something takes you back to your childhood and you capture that feeling, though fleeting, powerfully.

Joe, I agree, those are tear jerker songs. I'd add 'Cats in the Cradle' as well to that list for me. My mom passed away this year, and I can't listen to Gilbert's Alone Again, not for some time yet.
Robbie - Tokyo, Japan
Beginning with the end: A stroke of musical genius completes this song with the soleful saxophone rendition of "Auld Lang Syne". As for the story: Fogelberg describes this woman, not as a former girlfriend, but former lover. This conveys the depth (and complications) of the relationship. Because they were so involved, they are able to give each other an honest assessment of where their lives are currently. She admits that the security she chose (marrying an architect) didn't necessarily meet all her needs. He admits his life as a touring musician has highs (heavenly) and lows (hell). Having listened to this song since it was first aired on the radio in the 70s, I never once felt these two wanted to get back together. There is too much reference to "emptiness" and "conversations lagging" to think they still had the connection they once shared. Also, in toasting to "now", they both accept the results of the choices they made. They both understood they each had to follow their own dreams, even tho it meant giving each other up. Perhaps that was real love, letting go of the other person so each is free to follow their dreams. And I think that "letting go" was the "old familiar pain" of which Fogelberg sings. Now for the end again. The setting is "Christmas Eve". Why play a New Year's tune? "Auld Lang Syne" can mean "days gone by", or "once upon a time". But New Year is about ringing in all that is new. Any lingering doubts Fogelberg has about whether he should have tried to make this relationship work have been put to rest. That is why the song is called "Same OLD Lang Syne"(not "Auld Lang Syne). Neither has changed their way of thinking. This is an old story. He realizes in talking with her that they have both moved on with their lives. SUCH a beautiful song full of fabulous imagery.Camille - Toronto, Oh
This is one of my favorite songs. It compares favorably with Harry Chapin's "Taxi" which tells a similar story of lost love and unfulfilled dreams.Gregg - Kampala, Uganda
Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne was a major motivation for my writing and self-publishing a novel, The Grip, in 2009. Dan tells such a meaningful story. His lyrics of running into a lost love may be as poignant as any song ever written. Steve, Grand Prairie, TXSteve - Grand Prairie, Tx
This song is a great (but not the only) illustration of Fogelberg's exceptional song writing ability. There are very, very few who will ever be in his class.Mark - Grand Rapids, Mi
Everytime I hear this song I think about my high school boyfriend. And everytime my heart gets a little heavy wishing that I could live out the same scenario. But, he's stationed overseas, so I knew that it would probably only happen in my dreams. And then one day he invited me to be his friend on facebook...on new year's eve. I was standing in my kitchen, with the radio on, when the invite popped up on my phone. And guess what was playing on the radio? I thought I would cry. It felt like a sign that I should accept his invite. We broke up 30 years ago and haven't seen each other in 20.It's not quite like running into each other in the grocery store, but it works for me. We talk daily like we never skipped a beat. This has become our unofficial song, so to speak. This song will forever be burned into my heart.Amy - Lufkin, Tx
If you ignore the music and hone in the lyrics, not too many songs can top the sentimental yearning that this ballad emits. What an utterly pensive song. In an oddly perverted sense, the appeal of this song is the notion that the two former lovers got caught up in the moment only to realize that it's nothing more than a pipe dream. They had the propensity to dream but also the common sense to realize it is what it is. We dare dream that they perpetuated that blissful Christmas Eve forever, but if they had then our imaginations of "what if" wouldve been truncated. Their tryst, in its place, worked wonders for both of them. Who knows if the magic of that one evening could've been sustained if it went longer than those few hours. But I like to think it would have...

This song terribly hurts me because the song in and of itself can explain the life cycle of a relationship. The very same relationship that I once had and wished it would still, to this day, continue to "snow". But the "rain" set in and so did the reality that all things, like that magical evening Dan and Jill spent together, succumb to time.
Lance - Ingelheim, Germany
I bought this song as a 45 back when it came out. It was beautiful then and now...a true classic.Janetlee - Panama City, Fl
To JOrge:

The B side was an unreleased song titled "hearts and crafts." for some reason, as far as i know, it didn't make it onto any of his albums. At least, it didn't make it onto "The Innocent Age."
Supremely talented man, and YES, dave from pomeroy...SO underrated.
Em - Boston, Ma
This song is beautiful. It makes you wonder if your first love ever thinks about you when he/she hears it. For those who have someone from their past that never quite leaves their mind, I have found a cool website called lostlovers.com I have nothing to gain by sharing it, I just know what comfort reading the stories has brought to me. It's very fun to read! I am not a paid member, but am able to read lots of rekindling stories for free in the "members love stories" section on the message boards. This song hits home for so many people. There are so many people that do end up together after 20, 30, 40+ years if they are meant to be. Amazing.Anonymous - Minneapolis, Mn
The song reminds me of the true love of my life. I haven't found anyone to come close to how wonderful my life was with her.Jack - Tampa, Fl
This song brings back so many memories for me. My wife and I met at a grocery store back in high school and the night I finally got the courage up to ask her out it just happened to be Christmas Eve. As she was leaving the store is started snowing, I walked her to her car and asked her out. We have been together for over 12 years no and this has been our song ever since then.

R.I.P. Dan
James - Bristol, Va
This is such a powerful song; Dan Fogelberg was one of the best. To Dan from Huntington: sorry but please don't compare Dan Fogelberg to Dan Acosta. He doesn't even come close.Shirley - Ocean, Nj
This song has a special place in my heart. My x- wife and I remarried after 14 years of seperation and divorce in June of 07. It was our song played for the husband and wife dance at our reception. The opening line "Met my old lover in a grocery store" is how I feel about our getting back together and rekindeling our love for each other.Dave - Jacksonville, Il
This song means alot to me and I'm a guy who doesn't want to dwell in the past or get all sentimental.
However my college love will always have a piece of my heart whether I like it or not. Five years after graduation she came to Omaha unannounced and called me for dinner. Being in her presence I felt so confident...like I was a football star in college again. We drank a few in my car but when she left I knew it would be a long time before I'd see her again and I knew she was planning a wedding. In my case, it was only raining when we began saying goodbye, but as God as my witness it began to snow by the time she got out of my car. I'll never forget it, nor will I ever be completely get over her. Rest in peace, Dan. You touched me with your great song.
Joel - Norfolk, Ne
The woman in the story was Jill Anderson and she was sent out to get some eggnog at a Convenient store at the top of Abington Hill in Peoria, IL. Fogelberg was out to fetch whipping cream to make Irish coffees at his mother's house. Fogelberg bought Olympia Beer.David - Peoria, Il
The mystery woman in the story was another graduate of Woodruff High School Class of '69, Jill Anderson - Now Jill Greulich(now a teacher in Missouri).David - Peoria, Il
The mystery woman in the story was another graduate of Woodruff High School Class of '69, Jill Anderson - Now Jill Greulich(now a teacher in Missouri).David - Peoria, Il
Since last seeing my old love, I've carried this song in my heart for the past 20 years. I just knew we would play out a scene from it, whether running into one another as we rushed through an airport or while at the grocery. A few months ago I learned he passed away last summer. It has been really hard accepting this dream will never come true. I truly loved this man and I believe he felt the same. Years ago in an effort to bring us together to discuss our future, he tracked me down after I had moved a thousand miles away. When someone so special is in your heart, one doesn't realize how much time has passed because they are so near in your thoughts. I wish so much that I could have looked into his eyes once more.Shawn - La, Ca
Lighten up athiest! Some songs are just seasonal in nature. Sheryl Crow's Soak Up The Sun just doesn't sound the same in November, and Justin Hayward's Forever Autum and Van Morrison's Moondance get relegated to October

It gets December airplay because it is evocative of the season. It takes place on a Snowy evening, yes, christmas eve, and Auld Lang Syne is a tradition on New Years Eve, when we recall old acquaintences. At the end, the snow turns into rain. I don't think this would have the same pathos if played on a Beach Music Station in August!
Dreamerofdreams - Rochester, Ny
i have always loved this song, and everything Dan did. I've always wondered at the very end of the song where it says, "the snow turned into rain", if that was a metaphor of how things can change. He thought perhaps he still loved his girl, but forgot about once it starting raining.
Mary, Yuma
Mary - Yuma, Az
Dan, I totally agree. I did not know how *big* of a singer he was until just a few years ago.Julia - Knoxville, Tn
Hey, unapologetic atheist: The reason it's played a lot around the holidays is evident in the second line: " ... The snow was falling Christmas Eve." While I agree that it's a song about a personal experience, there is a holiday connection there, even if tenuous.Betsy - Burnsville, Mn
The encounter between the former lovers takes on a magic or mystique quality from its beginning to its end. The serendipitous meeting occurs on Christmas Eve, a night full of magic and electricity in itself. Then the encounter ends with "the snow turns into rain". Snow holds within its own crystalline nature a magic quality full of excitement. Rain lacks the charged nature. The magic is over, reality has returned. The song is quite well written.James - Scottsdale, Az
Dan lost his battle with prostate cancer on December 16th. This morning our local news radio station said that Auld Lang Syne wouldn't be the same without him. RIP, Dan Fogelberg. You will be missed.Tina - Norcross, Ga
Really beautiful song. With reference to the above comment "the snow turned into rain", I've always thought it meant that they had both been acting real composed and cool all during their reunion but that after she left the car and walked away at the end he began to cry.Marty - Chicago, Il
I can't think about this song, let alone hear it, without thinking of my first love. We were together all through college but our lives evolved in diverging directions thereafter. We kept in touch over the years and now exchange occasional emails. Although each of us is happily married with children, the power of that intense relationship more than 30 years ago somehow lives on. This song captures it perfectly, masterfully and beautifully.Leslie - St. Paul, Mn
As an unapologetic atheist, I resent the fact that such a great song about a personal life experience and a second time around heartbreak now gets turned into a misinterpreted Christmas song, only played around the holidays. To piss off my overly religious friends and Christmas fanatics, I play the crap out of this song for weeks after December 25th.Keith - Fall River, Ma
This song appeared at first on a single in December 1980 and 8 months later on the album "The Innocent Age". Does anybody know which song was the B-side of the single and where can I find a picture of the sleeve? Thanks for your help.Jorge - Mexico, Mexico
This song is a great example of how true love can never really change, even after we lose the relationship. It shows you that even though two people have moved on, the original love that was there is still holding strong. Another example of this is a song by Dan Acosta & AXIS UNKNOWN called "Keepsake" - it reminds me of my ex-wife and chokes me up whenever I hear it. I found it on iSound.com one day while checking out some new bands. If you like this type of song, I highly recommend Dan Acosta as well.Dan - Huntington Station, Ny
Dan has been battling advanced prostate cancer for a couple years now. I pray for his full recovery so we can have more classics like this.Bill - Downers Grove, Il
I just shared this song with a friend who I had lost touch with since High School. Tears me up whenever I hear it and think of her.

A former co-worker claimed that the song was written about his wife. I never had reason to doubt him, but I always wondered if it were true.
She was from Peoria, was married to an architect before she married my friend and would be about the right age.
Rick - St. Peters, Mo
I was so impressed by this song when I was young, that I published my first novel 2 years ago, with my vision of what led the youg couple to the grocery store. The nove, titled "When Love Was New" is meant to be a prequal to Mr Fogelberg's work. This is the best rock song ever written.Forrest - Charlotte, Nc
Dan did not write "Tell Me to My Face" it was a cover of a Hollies tune.Charles - Charlotte, Nc
Yeah, yeah, pretty song. I always imagined that the old lover he meets is the same one he wrote the spiteful "Tell Me to My Face" break up song for. (X-boyfrind dedicated that song to me so I dedicated Queen's "Death on Two Legs" to him.
Last I heard Fogelberg had declared the wolf was his brother and the earth his mother. Sometimes with great talent comes a few missing screws.
Lalah - Wasilla, Ak
There's not much need to explain what this song is about. It's pretty clear. I have the scene completely laid out in my mind - as if it happened with my old girlfriend. Very personal song for me.Joe - Orlando, Fl
the snow turned into...rain...Phill - Oakland, Ca
Dan Fogelberg once commented that he used the opening notes of the "1812 Overture" for the tune.Ray - Spring, Tx
I have heard this song for years, and thought nothing of it until now. Laying on my couch, the song came on the radio with some commentary by the dj. I looked up the words on the net and tears streamed down my face. What a beautiful songKatie - Bronx, Ny
This song is a tear jerker for sure. It makes you realize the things you took for granted in your past and overlooked. I was only 12 when this was a hit, but it was an age of innocence still going into my teenage years. Fogelberg is a talented song writer and not given the kudos he deserves.Dee - Indianapolis, In
One of only three songs that can make me tear-up. The others are Alone again naturally by Gilbert O'sullivan and You've got a friend By James taylor.........all have very personal meaning to meJoe - Ocala, Fl
Dan Fogelberg is one of the most underrated singers out thereDave - Pomeroy, Oh