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of course there are many ways to interpret this beyond the reality of it. just wanted to share that he described what literally happened
I was wondering if the snow turning to rain meant his magical moment with his lost love was over, and the rain represented he was back to reality. The tears are a great analogy!
After about 30 years, I returned home and looked up the guy who broke my heart when I was 18 (and he was about 23). Being out was new to me, and it was obviously (from my now mature perspective) a very deep infatuation. Yet even at that, I was deeply affected. I wanted to know why he ended it. Yeah, kinda dumb -- but I had never forgotten the hurt. So I called him and we made plans. I went over to his place, to pick him up and go out for a drink, catch up on old times, and who knows, right? Wrong. Here was a man who used to be athletic, handsome, on his game, smart and funny, with this honest-for-real twinkle in his eye, who was now somewhere lost in the midst of this old man I stood before. It was the first time in my life I was actually stunned beyond words. But I gathered myself together and we went out; and his was a tale of sadness and, from what I could tell, a slow road to physical and emotional dead ends. That twinkle in his eye flashed now and then, and it only made it all the more sad. As in the song, we ran out of things to say; and yet, still, I felt "that old familiar pain." I never did ask him why he left; and I realized it wasn't important to know. Moreover, I should have left well enough alone. Same old lange syne, indeed.
I have long loved this song about lost loves and of paths not taken. I must admit that it almost brings me to tears every time I hear it because it strikes so close to home. This beautifully sad story is one most everyone can relate to and find tucked away in the most protected part of our hearts. Will there ever be a love as strong or as ultimately painful as our "first love"? I've always believed that one way you can tell real friends from mere acquaintances is that the second you see them, it's like your conversation picks up almost right where it left off, even though there may have been decades in between. It just feels natural and comfortable, like coming home.
That indeed seems to be the case with these two former lovers, meeting by chance at a convenience store. They talk naturally and comfortably for hours. Then, as the last verse describes him suddenly being "back at school", feeling "that old familiar pain", and the snow turning "into rain" suggests, there is unfinished business there. For me, the symbolism of the snow turning into rain cannot be happy. I am a skier and I know what rain does to snow. For me, the singer is sad and clearly longing for his "old lover". But the lines that I don't see considered often are in the chorus. Following the toasts to "innocence" and to "now" are the lines that, for me at least, resonate with the longing felt by most everybody who ever loved, and lost, their "First Love": "And tried to reach beyond the emptiness /But neither one knew how," seem to describe both of them longing to reach out and perhaps reconnect, but neither being quite able to. Neither of them could find their way through "the emptiness" that they obviously sensed still lay between them. This is true for him because of the way he felt as he "watched her drive away" and his sadness watching the snow turning into rain. And probably true for her as well because she is stuck in a loveless marriage. He isn't married at the time (not until 1982) and her marriage seems on a downward spiral.
Now we can't possible know what was in the heads and hearts of Dan and Jill all those many years ago. It was what it was. But in a sense, it almost doesn't matter because the song belongs to all of us now. We can, and do, take our own meanings and interpretations of Mr. Fogelberg's wonderful words and phrases and make them our own. It is the way we relate to all poetry and "Same Old Lang Syne" is certainly poetry. Its just poetry set to hauntingly beautiful music.
Two times in my life I managed to "reach beyond the emptiness" and reconnect with former loves. The first time was with my "first love" and there was a good deal of real pain involved with the breakup. That story is like something out of Shakespeare. But I did reach out decades later and, even though things didn't ultimately work out, the time we did manage to steal for ourselves and spend together was magical and remains among the happiest memories of my life. I wouldn't trade a second of it for the world. In the second, following a number of years apart, she reached out to me in a letter and we are still together, 13 happy years later. So I guess the point of this is that if there is unfinished business from earlier in your life, and if circumstances allow, I urge you to make the effort. Who knows? Perhaps you too just might be able to "reach beyond the emptiness" and find some peace and happiness there. It's sad to me that Dan and Jill weren't able to make that work. But, if they had managed to pull that off, then there would be no song to wring all those emotions from our hearts. My heart yearns for them and, for myself as well. This is a wonderful song Mr. Fogelberg. Thank you.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.