Friday, December 29, 2006

Should old acquaintance be forgot...

Last year at this time, I recorded a version of "Auld Lang Syne" ("Auld Lang Syne 2006") with hammer dulcimer. This year, I decided that it would become a tradition to do a new version every December to see which direction each one took. This time around, I went with mountain dulcimer and vocals. Using the Fantom as a controller, I created a tribal rhythm as the pulse and laid down a simple sub-bass track with a neat soundfont to really ground it.

I was going to embellish the arrangement with some other elements, but something came up. Champ, our 16 1/2 year-old black labrador/border collie mix, took a turn for the worst (he was diagnosed with renal failure some time ago and suffered a sort of stroke as well, from which he bounced back) and the decision to let him go was made. In researching the lyrics, it struck me that the verses containing lines such as "we two have run about the hills", "we two have paddled in the stream", "we've wandered many a weary foot", etc., very much related to the kind of adventures that we've shared with this old dog. My wife Jae has been his companion since he was a tiny puppy and I only have known him for the past five years, but what amazing times we've spent together; he is truly a dear friend and I knew we were living on borrowed time, so this sudden signpost hit me like a ton of bricks. Tomorrow morning, we visit the vet to free him from the pain of this earthly life.

I was going to really lay on the sentimentality with this development, but in the Scots-Irish tradition, I decided to leave out the dramatic modulations and tear-jerking minor chords in order to celebrate his life as opposed to mourning his death. The melodic-harmonic riffs that bridge the verses and end the piece are motifs that recall Champ at his happiest, prancing along in the summer sunshine. Finally, I recorded his voice on this, his last day with us, and let him have the final word, as it were. We're sure gonna miss you old buddy. And we will never forget you.

May we all know love and laughter
of good companions, ever so
may the road rise up to meet them
when it's time to let them go

go forth, ye old dog - you'll always be a rascal!

Your friend, Bing

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

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

And surely you’ll get your pint mug !
And surely I’ll get mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the hills,
and pulled the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine (dinner time?) ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-friendly draught,
for auld lang syne.


"Auld Lang Syne 2007"

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