Friday, December 21, 2018

christmas song or it ain't

There are two songs that fall right onto the "Is DieHard a Christmas movie?" argument line and can be argued from both sides...

First is Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne", a soft and sentimental (though I could just say "Dan Fogelberg" and you could automatically assume "soft" and "sentimental") tune about a dude who sees an old flame in a grocery store. They agree to meet at a bar to catch up, but can't find anything open because it's New Year's Eve.  So they buy a six pack, sit in her car, drink, laugh and drink a toast to innocence.  Finally, the beer was empty and they run out of things to say, and she gives him a kiss as he gets out and she drives away.
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There's really nothing in the this song that says New Years or Christmas or anything else, other than its the part of the season where it's easy to reflect upon your life.

They try to reach beyond their emptiness, but neither one knows how.  He even admits in the song "just for a moment I was back in school, and felt that old familiar pain, and as I went to make my way back home, the snow turned into rain..."  So other than a reason for reflection, is this really a Christmas song?


So why is this a Christmas song then?  Because it happened for reals.

The women in question is named Jill, and she and Dan were in the Woodruff High Class of '69 in Peoria, Indiana and dated for a while.  She went out for eggnog and he was trying to get whipping cream for his Irish coffee, and the only place open was a convenience store atop Abington Hill (in 2008, the street where you'll find the store, being the source for this song, was designated as "Fogelberg Parkway"). They bought a six pack of beer and sat in her car and talked for two hours.

Some years later, Jill heard the song on the radio as she drove for work and immediately knew it was about her. She kept quiet about it, as she didn't want to disrupt Dan's marriage, and for that reason or othewise, he refused to identify who the girl in the song was.

When Dan Fogelberg passed in 2007 of prostate cancer, she finally spoke up about her identity and the truth in the song. While she corrected the lines "Her eyes were still as blue..." (they are green) and "she said she married her an architect" (her husband was a teacher), she didn't comment on the line "She would have liked to say she loved the man but she didn't want to lie", but while married upon the chance encounter in question, she was divorced when the song was released in 1980.

I love this song and knowing this story makes me love it even more.

(FYI, it became Dan Fogelberg's biggest hit, and was an immediate hit -- he was still writing songs for the album "The Innocent Age" when "Same Old Lang Syne" came out. The wait for the release helped, as three more singles came out and the album sold 2 million copies)


And that brings us to "Last Christmas" by a little 80s band called Wham!, made up of megastar Andrew Ridgely and his often forgotten sidekick George Michael. Written and produced by Micheal, it was released in 1984 on the flip side of "Everything She Wants" record.  The song details a failed relationship from the perspective of a guy who just can't let go, and the only reference to Christmas in the song itself is the when the title is sung: "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, and the very next day, you gave it away" (he confesses his resolve, however, because THIS year, to save himself some tears, he'll give it someone special)

Unlike "Same Old Lang Syne", George Michael didn't necessarily draw on his own experience, he simply had a revelation while he and Ridgely were visiting Michael's parents  Andrew says that they were chillin', watching some TV, when suddenly George ran upstairs. An hour later, he came back down all excited, asking Andrew to follow him back up.

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They are even dressed in Christmas attire! 
He says, "We went to his old room, the room in which we had spent hours as kids, recording pastiches of radio shows and jingles, the room where he kept a keyboard and something on which to record.  He played me the introduction and the beguiling, wistful chorus melody to 'Last Christmas'. It was a moment of wonder."

So it's a song about heartbreak, it only references Christmas when singing the two word title, and in a whispered "Merry Christmas", which is followed by "I wrapped it up and sent it with a note saying 'I love you', I meant it".  The chick he's pining over has a soul of ice, and so much power over him that not only is he lamenting his year without her, that if she kissed him, "I know you'd fool me again."

However, the video gives it much, much more of a Christmas feel. George and Andrew are at a ski lodge with their bae (baes? bae's? what is the plural of bae? and why do I care?), and they are all about decorating the tree, having a big Christmas dinner, and looking longingly at each other with a glass of wine and a coiffed mullet.

And at the very end of the video, a title card that says "Merry Christmas and Thank You".


But... this is my post.

On appeal, ruling reversal


Problem Solved.