Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (An Annual Series): Part III -- In Which I'm Revealed as a Sentimental Old Fluff Edition

[I originally posted this little confessional back in 2013; I'm reposting it now not because I'm trying to make it a tradition or anything, but because Sam Anderson -- a very fine staff writer for the New York Times Sunday Magazine -- recounted an almost identical story last week; you should READ HIS VERSION HERE after mine, because his is much funnier. -- S.S.]

This is, as I have been wont to say here on many previous occasions, a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.

It also has a certain relevance to tonight's festivities, which will be revealed later in the narrative. Please be patient.

Anyway, so the other day I was in a cab heading down the West Side Highway in a snowstorm, and the driver had the radio tuned to whatever soft-rock Lite FM station they inevitably have on when they don't have WINS News Radio blasting or some guy from Queens yelling about sports.

I wasn't particularly paying attention, but suddenly some soft-rock Lite FM staple song came on, and immediately I knew three things.

1. I had definitely heard it before.

2. It was probably from the 70s or the 80s, although I couldn't rule out the possibility that it might have been more recent, and it had that whole California soft-rock vibe, which I usually detest, in spades.

3. I had no idea who the guy or the group singing it was, although I was painfully aware that when and if I found out I was gonna kick myself. Because pretty much everybody in the world, at least of a certain age, would have been able to recognize it instantly.

The truly insidious part was that there was something about the damn thing that grabbed me. Yes, the vocals had that laid-back L.A. Mr. Sensitive shtick that usually makes my gorge rise. But the tune was charming, the voicings of the harmony parts in the chorus were really quite lovely, and -- try as I might to deny it -- it was getting under my skin.

Fortunately, because of the roar of traffic, I couldn't really hear the lyrics, although one word -- "architect" -- jumped out. "Hmm," I thought. "There's a word you don't hear in a pop song everyday."

Anyway, I then went about the rest of my weekend, but I knew with an absolutely dread certainty that I was gonna break down sooner or later and look the song up on the Intertubes.

So, late on Monday, I googled "Soft Rock song with the word architect in it" and up it popped.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...and my fingers are shaking as I type these words....Dan Fogelberg (the horror, the horror!) and his 1980 smash (which I had apparently put out of my mind, probably deliberately, ever since its original vogue) "Same Old Lang Syne."

Well. In case you're wondering, no -- I have no interest in revisiting the rest of Fogelberg's body of work, and yes, I still basically can't stand the whole genre he represents, but goddamn it -- this damn song works and it gets to me. Like I said, it's melodically quite charming, and now that I've actually deciphered the lyrics, it turns out that -- despite a certain smugness that kind of rankles -- they actually make a pretty good little short story.

And the record's not even a new guilty pleasure, to be honest, because I don't feel particularly guilty about liking it.

Sticks in my craw a bit, though.

As I said, this is a very sad story, so please try not to laugh.


mainuh said...

Completely forgot about that song, much like you.
His album "Exiles" is worth checking out on youtube - a Stax, Tower of Power influence, quite a change.
He died way to early, 56. Here's hoping he found some peace in one of the most beautiful places in Maine, Deer Isle.

Merry Christmas. Steve.
Thanks for your blog.


John Werner said...

Steve, you did good. Perhaps not to the extent you seem to, but I dismiss Folgelberg. I do this even though when I was in high school I liked some his stuff and our senior song strangely enough was his Souvenirs which probably is stranger than it seems because I'll bet 75% of the class never heard it before! Anyway I'm writing because this would be the first Christmas in some time I did not hear this song in passing prior to the day. I guess that tells me that where I live I don't listen to the stations on radio because they are all so poor. You helped me correct an oversight because this is one superior Christmas time pop song. Now I need to listen to me some Rosemary Clooney Baby It's Cold Outside and I'll be done!