World’s Worst Songs: Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne”
Dan Fogelberg’s wuss-rock holiday epic “Same Old Lang Syne” is the foundation stone upon which World’s Worst Songs is built. In the Olympics of Suck, it’s Michael Phelps. I have written about it several times over the years. Therefore, I will condense my problems with it into a handy bulleted list. Clip and save!
- Even a true story, which “Same Old Lang Syne” is supposed to be, can be told badly, and this one rings false from start to finish. The details are all wrong. Bars closed but liquor stores open?
- Miserably clunky writing: “then her eyes flew open wide,” “we drank a toast to innocence / we drank a toast to now,” “the beer was empty and our tongues were tired.” Lame as the latter is, it’s worse because Fogelberg doesn’t need “tired” to rhyme with anything. It just sits there like a meatball for no good purpose.
- I have no sympathy for wealthy and famous rock stars who bitch about how travel makes it hard to be wealthy and famous. If travel is so bad, the McDonald’s around the corner is probably hiring.
- “As I turned to make my way back home, the snow turned into rain.” In Fogelberg tunes, it frequently rains or snows as if the universe were wryly commenting on Dan’s life. As if the universe gives a shit.
- The song ends with a hideous smooth-jazz “Auld Lang Syne.” If it takes place on Christmas Eve, what’s that doing there?
- Wimpy singing, wimpy playing in general. Fogelberg could be a competent performer of rock songs, but by 1980, he was content to ride the soft-rock train all the way to the bank. Over and over and over.
More than any other song I have written about, “Same Old Lang Syne” generates passionate defenses from people who like it. Before you fill out the “comments” form below, please refer to this guide to determine whether your point has been made previously by another Fogel-fan.
“How would you know if it’s any good? Have you ever written a song?“ As my Popdose colleague Jack Feerick once said, “You don’t have to be a dancer yourself to notice when the ballerina falls flat on her ass, my friend.” Related: quoting Brendan Behan on critics being like eunuchs in a harem. I’m impressed with your erudition, but if you’re so smart, how come you like this song?
“But it’s a true story! I experienced that very thing, just like Fogelberg did.” I experienced something like it too, but I didn’t write a crappy song about it.
“As a piece of music, it’s beautifully constructed.” Hell yes, it’s pretty. It should have been an instrumental.
“Dan Fogelberg is much more popular than you are.” Kim Kardashian has 17 million followers on Twitter. Next question.
“You’re an idiot/dork/moron/asshole.” Yes, I am. What’s your point? Related: “You have no soul.” Maybe not, but I’ve got ears.
My all-time favorite comment was from an English teacher who accused me of being a complete literary philistine. “You’re just like my students who dislike Shakespeare,” he wrote. “You fail to understand his genious [sic].”
If Dan Fogelberg is Shakespeare, then I’m Brendan Behan.
Yeah, I hate “Same Old Lang Syne,” and I’m prepared to hate anybody who doesn’t hate it as much as I do. Here it is, dramatized in Legos, which improves it immensely.