As we walk, rock and or roll into 2023, a bit of music never hurt anyone, and many songs have been written about the event. From old favorites to new these songs help us reflect on the year gone by and bring hope for the year ahead. I’ll keep this short post brief and get right to the music!
So we of course need to start with the oldest New Year song, a tradition since the late 1700’s in Scotland. The legendary Poet Robert Burns transcribed words he said he heard from an old man. It’s an amalgam of old poems and folk songs put to the tune of yet another old folk song which is listed on the Roud Folk Song Index as number 6294 out of over 25,000 songs.
“Auld Lang Syne” is roughly translated into several meanings, according to Wikipedia “into standard English as “old long since” or, more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by”, or “old times”. Consequently, “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for the sake of old times”. Burns gave us a gift we give to ourselves and others every year and we still keep track of him as we mark Robbie Burns Day every January 25th.
The first recording was an instrumental by ‘Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians’ in 1939. For tivia sake, he is from the same place, London, Ontario where I grew up. Guy Lombardo, who was dubbed “Mr. New Year’s Eve” performed the first nationwide (heard in Canada as well) radio broadcast from the Roosevelt Grill in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from just after the stroke of midnight in 1929. In later years it was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel through to 1976. The song was heard on Radio and TV after the ball drops at Times Square for many years, and the recordings are still broadcasting every year. The first vocal recording of the song, not particularly surprising is by Bing Crosby in 1947. Sung by millions of people around the world there are well over 400 versions both vocal and instrumental. The Beach Boys (1964), Rachel Ann Morgan (1990).
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve became the main broadcast replacement for Guy Lombardo, but the first edition, on the eve of 1972 was actually ‘Three Dog Night’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 1973‘ with Dick Clark serving as the Times Square ‘Reporter’ and show Producer. The next year was hosted by George Carlin before Clark took over in 1975.
I’d have to say there does not seem to be a song that has replaced “Auld Lang Syne” as a popular sing-along, but certainly one that gets a lot of airplay is ” New Year’s Day” written by Bono (credited as all songs are to U2) and recorded by U2 (1983). Not purpose written as a song for the new year it’s actually inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement led in great part by Lech Wałęsa, coupled with words of love about his then new wife, Ali (Stewart) Hewson. Bedouin Soundclash (2006), Stella Starlight Trio (2012).
“New Years Day” by Bon Jovi (2016), not as well known a song but about new beginnings.
“New Years Day” by Slaid Cleaves (2004) gives us an Americana view.
A bit more recent “New Years Day” (2018) was recorded by Taylor Swift and written with Jack Antonoff. Not exactly a happy go lucky let’s party in the New Year song but it’s quite deep and reflective. A very fine song. So far I’ve just found some YouTube covers.
Here are some more songs about the New Years Eve or the New Year in general; “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” written by Frank Loesser first recorded in 1947 by Margaret Whiting. Ella Fitzgerald (1960), Kacey Musgraves (2016), “New Year’s Eve” Tom Waits (2011), “New Year’s Resolution” Otis Redding & Carla Thomas (1968). The ultimate New Year’s party song “1999” written and performed by the late and great Prince from his 1982 album ‘1999’.
Happy New Year and all the best for 2023!
Many thanks as always for reading my blog!