Thursday, December 29, 2011

“Another Auld Lang Syne” Unit Quiz

(Just for Alyssa, who loves this song and knows all about it.)

(Actually, JK, she can't stand it. I do like it, in spite of having some fun with it. Dan Fogelberg left us too soon. I love "Run for the Roses", "Heart Hotels" and especially "Leader of the Band." For a balance to this foolisheness, I hope you visit the Dan Fogelberg  Website at 

"Another Old Lang Syne"

1. Where did the speaker meet his “old love?”
2. Was she actually old or did he mean “former?” Why didn’t he say “former?”
3. When did this occur and what was the weather like?
4. Where did he encounter her? Do you find that disturbing?
5. How did he get her attention? Was this a “good” touch or a “bad” touch?
6. Did she recognize him at first? How did she react?
7. Why did they “laugh until (they) cried?” What does this show about their sense of humor?
8. Where did they take her groceries? What happened to them there? Were you surprised by that?
9. As they stood there, why were they embarrassed? What happened to the conversation as a result?
10. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
11. How did they have a “drink or two?”
12. How classy was that?
13. What two toasts did they drink?
14. Were they able to reach behind the emptiness? Why or why not? Would you have been able to reach behind the emptiness yourself?
15. Who had she married?
16. How did he keep her? (“In a pumpkin shell” is not an acceptable answer.)
17. Would she have liked to have said she loved the man? Why didn’t she?
18. Had the years been a friend to her?
19. What color were her eyes?
20. What conflicting emotions did the singer see in her eyes?
21. Can you tell the difference between doubt and gratitude in someone’s eyes? Why or why not?
22. Where had she seen him?
23. What exactly was a record store, anyhow/? Are you sure?
24. Do you think he was doing well?
25. Characterize the audience and the traveling. Do not use bad words, if possible.
26. Do you think the traveling was “hell” because he had to play at venues with goofy names like Jiffy Lube Live?
27. What did they relive in their eloquence? Grammatically, exactly how does the phrase "reliving in our eloquence" work? (I can't make any sense of it.)
28. So how did this all end?
29. How did she end their time together? Do you think that was sweet?
30. What did he watch her do?
31. So he had a flashback to when he was in school. Why do you think this happened?
32. What did he feel? Why? (I don’t know why either. I guess I’m dense.)
33. What happened to the meteorological conditions as he turned to make his back home? Was this symbolic like in a Hemingway short story? Of what? How do you know?
34. Why is this song titled with the name of a song associated with New Year’s when it happens on Christmas Eve? What’s up with that?


  1. This is excellent. I haven't heard this song in so long! I love it, but it definitely deserves to be mocked!

  2. The lyrics make me wonder if it is autobiographical.

  3. @ Mary G: I'm with you. And what deserves to be mocked should be mocked! Ha!

    @Brad: I heard Fogelberg say in an interview one time that the song was based on an actual encounter. He wouldn't say which parts were, uh, "imaginative constructs."

  4. I'm sorry, I've been listening to this song and reading comments and just have to go all literary on it. I think it significant that he steals up behind his his old lover in the frozen foods, a sort of doubly cold place in the cold and snow of winter. Is it the chill of the relationship they once had or the emotional distance they have in their relationships now? Dunno. Thank goodness he had the sense to touch her on the sleeve and not put a full body press/hug on her. She would have crowned him with her purse and that would have made for a very short song.

    The cold of the song is contrasted with her architect who kept her "warm and safe and dry" but that don't cut it with her emotional needs. She could have said, "Love your records, babe," shaken hands and walked away. Instead they have a drink and drink a toast to innocence and to time. A lot of water under the bridge with these two, I suspect. I wonder how it all went wrong for them. Was it the traveling he felt he had to do to build his career? Sounds plausible.

    So this reunion can't last forever and it ends on the wreckage of shattered dreams and the smoke of what could have been. What was the "old familiar pain" he felt on watching her drive away? Was it the pain of separation and the pain of knowing he made a choice years ago that brought him to this awkward reunion?

    We all have made choices that have led us to where we are. Occasionally those choices come back to us in the people who were involved at that critical juncture. And so we choose our paths and our lives are not the same.

    The snow turning into rain I have thought about and I think it's related to a poem by the French poet and all-around rascal Francois Villon who wrote famously, "Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?" or "Where are the snows of yesteryear/last year (your choice)?" The answer here is that the snows of yesteryear and the relationships of yesteryear and the people and choices of yesteryear are no more: like the snows, they have turned to rain, to the present, to nothing.

    I feel so depressed now. I think I'll listen to "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" to cheer myself up...