06 December 2011

Totaled Up and Bagged: Ridiculous Christmas Lyrics

We've been playing Christmas music at my day job since... wait for it... November 1st. So I've had a lot of time to listen to and analyze a lot of lyrics. Instead of giggling to myself at work over some of the stupidity and/or unintended sexual innuendo in these Christmas songs, I thought I'd bring the joy to you, my dear readers. However, before I could even write my first post, a friend and fellow writer posted a brilliant note to Facebook picking apart the lyrics to a Dan Fogelberg song that I've always found annoying. His comments made me laugh, so I asked if I could post it here for you all, and he obliged (thanks, Ty!)

Give a nice Jello World welcome to Ty Unglebower, a freelance writer and actor who is just Too XYZ to conform to a typical nine-to-five kind of existence. And he loves power ballads. Can you say awesome? Check out his blog for more of his thoughts, and follow him on Twitter (@TyUnglebower).


Allow me here and now to lambaste, ridicule, mock, and overall hate that most holy of Christmas tunes…Dan Fogleberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne.” (Great homonym, huh?)

For the uninitiated, this ditty has nothing to do with Christmas, save for the events taking place on a snowy December 24. Beyond this, it has no holiday connections whatsoever. The lyrics are garbage, and the tune is so wispy and whiny that you can do nothing with it. You cannot slow dance to it, or make out to it or anything. Listen for it this holiday season on ANY wall to wall Christmas station. You are bound to hear it sooner or later.

And now, join me, as I follow Dan, assisted by his actual lyrics, on his chance encounter with a former lover, whilst at the supermarket. Here we go…

Met my old lover in the grocery store,
The snow was falling Christmas Eve.
I stole behind her in the frozen foods,
and I touched her on the sleeve.

For starters, who the hell opts to go to the grocery store on Christmas Eve? Even if I ever had to, (which I seriously doubt), few things would make the already hated chore of grocery shopping worse than running into an ex-lover. I may not be able to avoid it, but I sure as hell would not call attention to myself.

Either way, who “steals” behind somebody? What kind of creepy bullshit is that?

Also, the term “frozen foods” is extraordinarily unsuited for just about any song, a ballad in particular. (Which, in theory, this is.) I am not saying it would never be appropriate, but any song that would meld these words successfully into its story arc should not posses the pretense that this song does. Moving on…

She didn't recognize the face at first,
but then her eyes flew open wide.
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse,
And we laughed until we cried.

I’ve laughed until I have “cried”, that is to say, had tears in my eyes, three, possibly four times in my whole life, including childhood. Point being, it doesn’t happen often, and while I grant that different things tickle different people, what sort of sheltered existence do these two people have to be living to find transcendental hilarity about a spilled purse?

We took her groceries to the checkout stand,
The food was totaled up and bagged.
We stood there lost in our embarrassment,
As the conversation dragged.

If this were any other song, “frozen foods” would be the worst lyric in the piece. But Fogleberg tops himself with what has to be the only such reference in ANY song ever, by singing the phrase, “totaled up and bagged”.

Lost in embarrassment as the conversation dragged…that’s generally, when I say, “nice to see you, goodbye.” Or in this case, I suppose I would add, “Merry Christmas.” Either way, I’d leave. Why push an already awkward moment? But do they leave it at that? No…

We went to have ourselves a drink or two,
But couldn't find an open bar.
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store,
And we drank it in her car.

Couldn’t find an open bar on Christmas Eve. You don’t say.

But no problem…you can drink a 6 pack IN HER CAR! Where is the missing verse describing the two of them being hauled off and booked for public consumption?

If I were actually dating this girl, that would feel a bit tacky to me. Even worse when it’s an ex…

Then the first of what seems like 90 recitals of the chorus…

We drank a toast to innocence,
We drank a toast to now.
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness,
But neither one knew how.

If spending time with your ex in her car at the parking lot of a liquor store in the snow on Christmas Eve away from your family while throwing back a few doesn’t get you past the emptiness, nothing will.

And by the way, how fucking ridiculous would it be to lift up a beer can, or any drink for that matter, and utter the words... "To innocence!"

She said she'd married her an architect,
Who kept her warm and safe and dry,
She would have liked to say she loved the man,
But she didn't like to lie.

So you’re keeping her away from her family as well?

And sweetheart, get a backbone and leave if you don’t care for hubby…there are other places to stay dry. Perhaps it’s shit like this that forces her to drink…

I said the years had been a friend to her,
and that her eyes were still as blue.
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I
saw, doubt or gratitude.

It’s doubt, if she’s got any taste. But then again, she’s sharing a 6 pack in a parking lot with Dan Fogleberg, so all bets are probably off.

Also, what a hatchet job Fogleberg did with the rhythm on this verse! Even if you know the song, you’ll choke on this verse. And why keep it? The message of this verse was so profound he couldn’t part with it?

She said she saw me in the record stores,
and that I must be doing well.
I said the audience was heavenly,
but the traveling was hell.

I quote verse two of this same song…”she didn’t recognize the face at first”.

But if she knew your face from the record store, why didn’t she recognize you at first?

A slightly altered chorus follows…

We drank a toast to innocence,
We drank a toast to now.
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness,
But neither one knew how.

We drank a toast to innocence,
We drank a toast to time.
Reliving in our eloquence,
Another 'auld lang syne'.....

Please, PLEASE tell me that any reference to “eloquence” as it pertains to these two jokers is very much tongue in cheek. If I had to choose 1,000 words to describe this song, “eloquent” would not even make the list…

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired,
And running out of things to say.
She gave a kiss to me as I got out,
and I watched her drive away.

Just for a moment I was back at school,
and felt that old familiar pain.
And as I turned to make my way back home,
the snow turned into..........rain.

The finale.

To begin with, “beer” cannot be empty. A can can be empty of beer. Or a beer can can be empty. But beer itself is not empty. I’d forgive it as poetic license, if Fogleberg hadn’t pushed the boundaries of the English language about 14 times in this song already by this point. Or if there were any proof he was a poet.

Also, hard to believe you ran out of things to say, when there is no indication at all that either one of you said a damn thing of substance in the first place.

So she kissed you and you get out. Hey, babe, how about at least a ride back to the grocery store where he left his car?! Not that it matters; he appears to be walking home, not back to the grocery store anyway.

And Danny boy, nice way to treat the woman you loved so much; let her down three beers at least, and drive away as the snow turns into rain. Nothing dangerous there.

Not to mention the fact that he left the grocery store without getting whatever the hell he went in there for in the first place. Less surprising is the complete lack of any entourage on the part of Fogleberg at what was supposedly the height of his popularity. (When nobody, I suppose, could get “Leader of the Band” out of their heads.) Says something that even then, he was alone and void of human contact, except for a chance meeting with an ex.

Ironically, he describes his life as being nearly as vapid, aimless and pathetic as the song itself turns out to be.

I love Christmas Spirit…


  1. I am afraid to listen to this song. I get songs stuck in my head like nobody's business.

    But the post: Snarkily divine! I love a good dissection when someone just can't stand it anymore, and Ty, you did it proud.

    Because I don't have the tune in my head and never heard this song before (for which it seems I should be thankful), I'm risking ridicule by lifting this stanza out of context:

    "We drank a toast to innocence,
    We drank a toast to now.
    And tried to reach beyond the emptiness,
    But neither one knew how."

    --because it reminds of the recent Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson TV movie "The Song of Lunch"--especially the last two lines. You just can't go home again. Especially if one of you is a douche.

    But before I wipe away a poignant tear, I'll just scroll back up and read more snark. Saved!

    Becky B

  2. Wowzer, what a stinkin' bunch of lyrics! This ought to be a running theme here, because this is a delightfully funny snarkfest.

  3. Becky - "Especially if one is a douche" haha! Too funny. Thanks for stopping by.

    Jenny - I do plan on picking apart a few more songs this month, so stay tuned!


Got something to say?