Trapped on Planet of the Wuss
A commenter to the post below mentions some New Year's songs, including Dan Fogelberg's early 80s holiday perennial, "Same Old Lang Syne." Can I just say how much I hate "Same Old Lang Syne"? Let me count the ways:
Wimpy singing, wimpy playing. As was the case on most of his early 80s work, Fogelberg goes for sensitive and soulful, but comes off like a wuss. And it's too bad, really, because he was actually a fairly competent singer of rock songs when he tried to be. I'm thinking the entire Souvenirs album (the one with "Part of the Plan"), or "Tell Me to My Face," one of the great pissed-off classics of all time, from the Fogelberg/Weisberg album in '78, or "Face the Fire" from Phoenix the year after that. But Phoenix, of course, contained Fogelberg's wimp-rock monument "Longer," and he rode various permutations of that slush up the charts time and again for the next three years or so.With the possible exception of Back in Black, no album that came out while I was in college did I detest more than The Innocent Age. And the most detestable tune on that most detestable of albums is "Same Old Lang Syne." I hate that record. Hate it hate it hate it. And I am prepared to hate anyone who doesn't hate it as much as I do.
Bitching about travel. It's another song in which a wealthy and famous rock star sings about how the travel makes it so hard to be a wealthy and famous rock star. Well, if the travel is so bad, then give up singing and get a day job like the rest of us. Or else shut up about it.
Lyrics: stupid, stupid, stupid. The story told in "Same Old Lang Syne" rings false--the details are wrong, as anyone who's ever met an old love unexpectedly can probably tell. All the bars are closed but the liquor stores are open? Only on Planet of the Wuss. "We drank a toast to innocence/We drank a toast to now." Shut up. And as songcraft, the lyrics have got problems, too. "The beer was empty and our tongues were tired"? Clunky as it is, that line might be forgivable if he needed "tired" to rhyme with something, but he doesn't--it just sits there like a meatball for no good purpose.
Love and precipitation. And while we're hating on the lyrics, let's not forget the song's final lines: "And as I turned to make my way back home/the snow turned into rain." This sort of thing was a recurring theme in Fogelberg's early-80s material. But it never just rained or snowed--it always rained or snowed in such a way as to show the universe's wryly commenting on Dan's life. As if the universe gives a shit.
Can't read the calendar. Why, if the action takes place on Christmas Eve, does the song end with "Auld Lang Syne"? (And a hideous smooth-jazz "Auld Lang Syne" to boot.) That's New Year's Eve, you twit.
The company it keeps. "Same Auld Lang Syne" appears on Fogelberg's album The Innocent Age, which could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch. It's docked points for the treacly and sentimental "Leader of the Band" (I don't care if it's a tribute to Dan's father; that tasteful low brass makes me want to hurl). And then there's the monumentally stupid "Run for the Roses," about thoroughbred horses. I said it then and I'll say it now: Somewhere in Kentucky, a horse has written a song about Dan Fogelberg.
(PS: Don't bother e-mailing me to say that Fogelberg has prostate cancer and has temporarily retired because of it. I know, and I wish him and his family well. But I still hate "Same Auld Lang Syne" just the same.)
Coming tomorrow: Our yearend countdown.