A Letter to Auld Acquaintance
So there I was, listening to music on Pandora (which is oddly something I don’t do all that frequently… I like to be a control freak when it comes to what goes in my ears), and suddenly it comes on. Just like “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, this poor song only gets use for about 24 hours out of the year. But unlike all the songs that strictly go with a single holiday or event, poor Auld Lang Syne is perhaps one of the most misunderstand song of all time. So I decided to do a little bit of digging and figure out what this songs even means… because honestly I had no idea.
Literally the title translates from Scottish to mean “days gone by”, however that truly doesn’t help in the understanding of the song. It was originally written as a poem by Scotsman Robert Burns and was just set to a traditional folk tune. This still doesn’t bring us any closer to getting it. The fact is, most people simply get caught up on the first line and then the rest sort of becomes Scottish mumbo-jumbo. If you were wondering, the first line is actually a rhetorical question: “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” When put into a realistic phrasing in English, it is asking “Should old friendships be forgotten?” The song then continues as a plea for people to remember the past as they look to the future.
“We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.”
This section basically says that we’ve traveled a lot and picked a lot of flowers (gowan is the Old English word for daisy). But through all of our weary wandering we can’t forget the past. Similarly the next stanza refers to the “but seas between us braid have roar’d” (translating to “the broad seas between us have roared” but we continue to look toward the future.
All in all it is actually a really touching song. I guess it just goes to show the power of lyrics, even if you dont know them entirely. I have included below my favorite cover of the song. Listen to it as you toast champagne tonight and have a very awesome New Years this evening.
Subscribe for more musings next year. I have a pretty cool thing coming in January.