Monday, December 3, 2012

A Toast to Dan Fogelberg

I was recently driving down the highway, minding my own holiday cheer and avoiding WalMart like a punch to the throat, when I was exposed to an extra special (read: not extra special) Song of the Season.

I will accept some responsibility for this, as I was listening to the local radio station that is federally mandated to play Christmas music between Thanksgiving and Christmas; however, I maintain the real blame lies with the author of this little holiday hymn. 

The song began and, not having heard it before, I was intrigued. Somewhere in the middle of the song I thought to myself, “This was written by a hippie.” Then towards the end, I thought to myself, “I'm not sure this resembles a Christmas song by any stretch of the imagination.”

The song is Same Old Lang Syne, and it is written and performed by Colorado based and noted folk singer/songwriter, Dan Fogelberg. I've included the lyrics here, and I thought we should review them together. My notes are after each stanza.

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

Okay, first, does your “old lover” have a name, Dan? Because frankly, that’s just rude to refer to her that way when making introductions. “Oh, John, this is my old lover – Old Lover, this is John.” And second, unless your name is Weird Al Yankovic or Barnenaked Ladies, the words “frozen foods” have absolutely zero business being included in your lyrics.

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

I’m sorry, how hard did you laugh? I’m going to go out on a Christmas tree limb and guess that these two people don’t laugh often, and when they do, it is usually at movies where Adam Sandler is dressed like a woman. Also, the song doesn't say, but I like to picture Dan standing there, still laughing as his old lover crawls along the floor, unassisted, picking up all the spilled contents from her purse.

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged

You know what, this is where you say, “It was great to see you; have a Merry Christmas, and hey – are you on Facebook?” If after three minutes of catching up the conversation is already dragging, then don’t let’s pretend we are suddenly obligated to be buddies, since you, Dan, are obviously busy being a (folk) rock star, and she is merely your old lover.

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

Still got it, eh, Dan? You old romantic. But why not just drive the rest of the way to her trailer park?

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
(And don’t forget a toast to Schlitz Malt Liquor, guys)

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
(the architect, or the tent he designed?)
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie

Yes, she has far too much integrity to lie, so instead, she just married a man she didn't love. Well played, Old Lover.

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

“I wasn't sure what I was seeing, because the beer was kicking in at this point.”

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

I imagine traveling all over the great state of Boulder, Colorado would indeed be a grueling tour schedule.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

"But one's thing's for sure, the beer was helping."

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

NOW who’s laughing, Dan? Guess she must have remembered how you stood there laughing while she had to pick all of her belongings off the grocery store floor without even an offer to help from you. Now you’re standing in snow up to your knees, out in the middle of nowhere with a Miller buzz on Christmas Eve while she drives off in her nice warm car! HA!

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

And God bless us, everyone.

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