Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Old Long Since"

If you weren't sound asleep before the stroke of midnight last night (and who could sleep, with all those stupid fireworks going off up and down the street?), you might have heard--or maybe even found yourself singing--the above-titled song to greet the New Year. Of course you probably heard or sang it in some form of its original language, which is Scots. So you sang "Auld Lang Syne."

I did a little Googling this morning and learned that "old long since" is a literal word-for-word translation of the title. More loosely it means something like "old times" or "long, long ago" or "days gone by." I also found that "Auld Lang Syne" is one of the most-sung songs on the planet, especially at this time of year. This makes the third thing I discovered rather amazing, which is how few people actually know the lyrics. If you hear them sing it in a crowd, everything sounds pretty normal, because different folks know different parts, while they all take turns faking the parts they don't know. But get them to sing it one-at-a-time, and things turn to worm dirt pretty fast. One guy on CBS Sunday Morning today, when they shoved a microphone in his face, actually sang "Should old acquaintance be forgot . . . keep your eye on that grand old flag!" I'm not making this up.

The rest of today's post is a public service. To get everyone properly informed for next New Year's festivities, here are the words to "Auld Lang Syne" as written by Scotland's most famous poet, Robert Burns (who apparently got some of them from an old man he met in 1788, who might have heard them in another song written in 1711 or maybe other songs to boot--it gets a bit mysterious):

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
       and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
       and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my jo (or dear), for auld lang syne, We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
       and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
       for auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes,
       and pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
       sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
       frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
       sin auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
       and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
       for auld lang syne.

Here's a bit of good news for those who don't like to learn anything that's not going to be on the test: You can probably get through New Year's Eve with just the first verse and chorus. But I think being aware of the whole song will make you a more well-rounded person.

I also wanted to find a really nice version of the song on YouTube. Well--surprise!--there are scads of them to choose from. I finally picked this one by a popular Scottish singer named Dougie MacLean. It seems to track along with the above lyrics better than most, though he does switch some of the verses around and adds or changes a few words here and there. But at least he doesn't say "keep your eye on that grand old flag."

The more I listen to this, the better I like it. I hope you do, too. And I hope that you all have a happy, safe, and wonderful 2012.

1 comment:

Scots Abroad said...

Aye, Wee Buddy - Ye did a braw guid job wi' yer Hogmanay post!

Loue tha' clip!

In our fair Alloway, Robbie's birthplace, guid wishes to ye an' yers are also sung:

"…Noo let us hope our years may be
As guid as they ha'e been,
And trust we ne'er again may see,
The sorrows we ha'e seen.

And let us wish that ane an'a'
Our friends baith far an' near,
May aye enjoy in times to come -
A hearty guid New year!"

Joy an' Peace!