WASHINGTON, December 31, 2011 – Well, we’re about to ring out the old and ring in the new. We don’t know about you, but good riddance to a very negative and confusing 2011. Why wouldn’t we celebrate its passing?
The traditional tune on the stroke of midnight as the New Year begins, of course, is “Auld Lang Syne,” the song, with lyrics by Scotland’s Bobbie Burns, that commemorates the old times, old friends, and old memories long gone by as the old year passes.
Paired with its incredibly nostalgic tune, Burns’ original poem is still sung worldwide, even though a likely 90% of those who sing it don’t really have a clue as to what the words—written in Scottish dialect—really mean.
The following brief, delightful scene from the film “When Harry Met Sally” may come the closest to conveying what the song really means.
To see what we mean, check out this video from the film, featuring Billy Crystal and a charming Meg Ryan in her younger somewhat sweeter days. Billy Crystal totally gets it, and so does Meg. It’s a magic movie moment:
Now that you have the setup, let’s explore our Top Ten List of 2011’s best available “Auld Lang Syne” videos. We list them here in order of interest, originality, and effectiveness, at least in our opinion. There are tons more of these videos, of course, and you’re welcome to add your own choices in our comment section.
If you have fun with these, we’ll see about providing an updated list at the end of 2012, a year which, if it even tries, is bound to be better than this one.
10. Susan Boyle, singing “Auld Lang Syne” in a 2010 NBC retrospective. The deal here is that surprise singing sensation Susan Boyle’s rendition of the song is used as a backdrop to remember the passing of various VIPs in 2010, more or less. The singing is simple, moving, and to the point. The video ‘s subjects may or may not reflect your own impressions of greatness.
9. Shirley Temple, Wee Willie Winkie (1937). Although she was getting a bit older, Shirley Temple was still America’s Depression Era darling in 1937. In each film she did, she always made the Great Depression seem that much more bearable with her impossibly bubbling optimism and her willingness to look ahead rather than behind. Here, though, she sings “Auld Lang Syne” to Victor McLaglen’s Sergeant McDuff who, sadly, doesn’t have much longer to reside on this planet. Queue a remembrance of old times past.
8. BBC broadcast with orchestra and chorus. Leave it to the Brits to provide a definitive, heartfelt, and joyously nostalgic rendition of this old New Year’s fave which, after all, originated on their turf—with apologies to Bobby Burns and the Scots, of course.
7. Beethoven Arrangement. Lest we forget, even the great Beethoven spent some time as a starving artist before he assumed his accustomed role as the dominant European composer of the 19th century. To make a few bucks, even the Big B could stoop to penning singing arrangements of popular songs. Here’s his spiffy version of “Auld Lang Syne.” Hack work never sounded so good. And look what happened after he cashed his royalty checks. We should be so lucky.
6. Beach Boys. While we’re on the B’s in the alphabet, let’s fast forward to America’s own masters of rockin’ tight harmony, The Beach Boys, who illustrate in this clip the astounding fact that early rockers could actually sing. A really nifty version of the old classic.
5. Barenaked Ladies in Tempe with fireworks. We can’t verify the authenticity of this clip, but it’s an alleged live recording of a Tempe New Year’s Eve celebration, circa 2008. If you listen carefully, you’ll note the addition of some original lyrics.
4. Jimi Hendrix. Moving backward somewhat in the space-time continuum, we arrive at a New Year’s Eve celebration that commences with a traditional approach to “Auld Lang Syne.” After which, the amazing Jimi Hendrix and Co. enter to alter the musical subject matter entirely.
3. Schwinn Bell Choir. We have no idea where this came from, but it’s certainly the most original riff we’ve yet found on this year-end favorite tune. Although the video seems to be quite contemporary, the musicians are all riding on old, heavy-duty Schwinn bikes that look like the one this author owned back in the day when no one ever heard of a 10-speed.
2. Red Hot Chili Pipers. Yep, you read that right. Not “peppers.” “Pipers.” Whoever these dudes are, they sure give a genuine Scottish flavor to Bobby Burns’ poem and its accompanying tune.
1. Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians (1953). Why not end with this time-honored classic version of “Auld Lang Syne.” Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians rang in the televised New Year celebrations seemingly forever back in the day, meaning the 1950s and 1960s. We forget when their long run ended, but recall that the band performed the official version of the tune for some time even after its leader passed away.
Eventually, the Lombardo ensemble’s Big Band sound gave way to Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and younger viewers today probably don’t even remember a time when you could still hear Lombardo’s traditional sound.
Sorry, but all the celebrations today are sort of crapped up with noise and bombast. They no longer recall that poignant bit of nostalgia that the Lombardo version welled up inside of each and every one of us before we resolutely put away the old and embarked upon the new.
So for those who never encountered it, here’s one version of the Real Deal. Yeah, the video is lame. And yeah, the Lombardo band took things kinda slow. But even jaded, aging Boomers will remember how they gave into Lombardo for that first post-New Year dance before the rest of the long night began to rock.
Comments at the current YouTube video site of this clip say it all:
“I remember, as a kid, staying up on New Years Eve… watching on TV as the big ball in Times Square in New York City dropped, signalling the New Year, and listening to Guy Lombardo and his orchestra play this as the new year rang in…. Not the big parties & noise & rock bands, etc of today, but a more civilized, gentler celebration.”
Thank you, sir, may I have another?
“I just LOVE this version done Lombardo it takes me back to a simpler time in the world back to the 1960’s when I was growing up. Where I lived was torn down because of Agnus [sic] hurricane [1972, ed.], but I would go to Yetter’s beer garden and this song would play at midnight. We would hoist a cold mug of Budweiser and toast the new year, boy if I could go back in time for two hours on new years eve I would not even think twice. Just to see all my friends from back then would be heaven. Salute to times back then!”
Yeah, dude, that’s about right.
Here’s the clip, lame video montage and all. Just listen to the music. Remember whatever it is that you want to remember. And Happy New Year!
Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of theWashington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing insights, visit his WT Communitiescolumn,The Prudent Man in Politics.
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