Thursday, January 01, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY: So Many Ways to Tak' a Cup o’ Kindness

Happy New Year!
Flappy New Year!

This is the song you probably heard a million times or so in the days leading up to today. "Auld Lang Syne" was written by Scottish poet Robert Burns (who my grandmother always insisted we were related to. I've never been able to verify that) Burns made no bones about the fact that his poem was based on an older folk song.

Here's the original Burns lyrics:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin' auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin' auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak' a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.


Nobody sings the latter verses anymore, so don't ask me to explain what a right gude-willie waught is.

The first known recording was in 1910 by a singer named Frank C. Stanley. Most the versions you've ever heard stem from this one:

Somewhere along the line the song became associated with Guy Lombardo, whose annual New Year's eve gig in New York, between 1929 and 1976 was broadcast nationwide. It was bigger than Dick Clark's New Year Rockin'  Eve, It was bigger than Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin's annual New Year's Show. Guy Lombardo became known as "Mr. New Year's Eve."

Of course,  I prefer this proto-R&B version by Freddy Mitchell and his piano man Rip Harrigan.

Let's fast-forward to the Rock 'n' Roll era. Jimi Hendrix did a version at the Filmore East right as 1969 was turning into 1970. [Note from 2021: Youtube yanked the video I had posted here. But here's Jimi's song on Spotify:]

And somehow it's not surprising that "Auld Lang Syn" has caught the ear of modern day Celt-rockers. The Dropkick Murphys have performed it. But I actually prefer the version by a Hungarian Celt-punk group called Paddy & The Rats.

One last time: Happy New Year!

For more deep dives into songs, check out The Stephen W. Terrell Web Log Songbook

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