Thursday, December 31, 2009

We’ll Take a Cup of Kindness Yet, for Auld Lang Syne

In just a few hours, we’ll all be getting ready to make and probably break New Year's resolutions (will this be the year I give up Diet Coke?), drink some champagne and watch the ball drop. Ever since New Year's Eve in New York City’s Time Square has been televised, people in the streets and those of us at home traditionally hear “Auld Lang Syne” play at midnight. As we attempt to sing along (does anyone really know all the lyrics to this song?), it might be interesting to think about how the song became a part of New Year’s Eve celebrations everywhere, and especially those in New York.

The song was first published by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1796 in a book entitled Scots Musical Museum. Scott reportedly copied the song down after he heard it sung by an older Scottish man. The term “Auld Lang Syne” translates to “old long since” or “times gone by”. I always think of this song as one of the most popular standards that no one really knows the lyrics to. Check out different versions of the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne here. The song became a central part of New Year’s celebrations in New York City due to the efforts of a Canadian bandleader named Guy Lombardo.

Guy Lombardo grew up in Canada where he heard “Auld Lang Syne” sung by Scottish immigrants. When he formed his dance band, His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians played the song at midnight at a New Year’s eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929. “Auld Lang Syne” has been a part of New Year's eve in New York City ever since.

Here is a 1945 recording of Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians performing “Auld Lang Syne.” Happy New Year to all my readers!

[Image via 1231]

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