Every night in junior high, I'd get in bed, surround myself with the orgy of pillows that made up my nightly nest, and turn on the clock radio to Love Songs. Then, as I drifted off to sleep, a woman named Delilah would play slow, soft serenades dedicated to lovers long gone. I would listen closely to the dedications, and my heart would ache strangely, in a way it never had before, for people who had lost someone they'd loved, to distance, death, or the cheap hussy at the liquor store. No matter the story, I felt their pain. I could hear the yearning, that deep ache in the bones, all the way through the radio waves. I hoped one day to love that much myself. I was 14; of course I did. The music that accompanied these stories was always older than me, from an era when sentimentality was king.
There were a few classic songs that I got to know over the years, sad songs sure to elicit tears that were requested over and over and over. Some were treacly, but some were decent songs that had gotten attached to the dedication circuit through no fault of their own.
Same Old Lang Syne told an every day story, the kind you might say was pregnant with regret. A few lines were genuinely touching; more than a few made me cringe. But somehow, even with the gratuitous sax solo at the end, I came to love it. Running into an ex in the grocery store, the most mundane of places; two people looking back, not only wondering "what if?" about one another, but also remembering a time when their lives had spread out before them, unformed, electric with possibilities. At the moment they meet, it's clear that at least one of them has settled, and for both of them, the surprises their lives once held have long since faded to disappointment, loneliness.
When I woke up this morning and read that Dan Fogelberg had died, I immediately thought of this song. I'd heard it in the nail salon a few weeks back, and strained to hear the words. After all those cheesy dedications, and all those years, it still captured me, treacly lines and all. That's something.