December 29, 2006 | HARMLESS UNTRUTHS

Absolutely nothing’s changed

So there are trillions of songs about Christmas, but I can only think of two pop/rock songs about New Year’s, the famous one being U2’s “New Year’s Day” and the not-so-famous one being the Dismemberment Plan’s “The Ice of Boston”. (Apparently, there is a song by Death Cab for Cutie called “The New Year”, but I don’t have much interest in it, as seeking it out would be a violation of my irrational scorn for Death Cab and Bright Eyes and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I’ll explain this later.)

In my love-hate relationship with U2 (equally reciprocated by the band, I’m guessing), I tend to feel like they have always been a little too sincere, but if you actually read the lyrics to “New Year’s Day” you realize that it’s pretty cynical. “Nothing changes,” Bono sighs. “Though I want to be with you night and day, nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” And there is the nice bit about how “we are told this is a golden age, and gold is the reason for the wars we wage.” Good stuff, generally (especially rhyming “day” and “Day”), though I certainly am right sick of this song.

The sentiment is actually not far off from what the D-Plan were going for in “The Ice of Boston”. I used to listen to live shows of the Plan pretty often — they were plentiful on the internet circa 2000 and I didn’t use to have any of their CDs. So I got used to live versions of this song, and I think the studio version is pretty weak in comparison. Trolling around youtube this morning I found a couple copies of it, including this one that is pretty decent (though mostly missing the bass):

At the bottom of this page I’ll also give a live mp3 and the lyrics. This song is very easy to understand and very easy to relate to. I have had a few New Year’s Eves like that.

Not this year, though. In all, it’s been a decent year.

I was so completely exhausted a couple weeks ago, after a grueling end to my semester, with no prospects of a real vacation or anything. But things have been okay since then. My Christmas was surprisingly refreshing, a genuinely nice one. I was so not looking forward to Christmas, I wasn’t in the spirit at all, but I had a good time with family and that was all I had hoped for. I put a handful of pictures on flickr.

For the upcoming New Year, I don’t really have any resolutions. I never do, actually. This is one of my problems in life, not being resolute enough. My life has been gradually getting more fun and more productive since it ground to a halt when I moved back from Poland a couple years ago. It’s kind of like I went down an amazing and awesome detour for a long time, from 2002 to 2004, and then I hit an apparent dead end. And my choices were to either keep going straight into dubious terrain, or to back up, and I didn’t do either one, but instead swerved off the road to the left, trying to pick up the highway somewhere further ahead than I was when I branched off. And now I’m somewhere close to where I would have been if I had never gone off the path, and it was a bumpy ride but an interesting one. I don’t know if it was the sensible thing to do, but I am not really interested in sensibility. Some of those side paths are starting to look tempting again…

Getting old is not so bad. In 2007 I will turn 30, and I guess I’m okay with that. I guess for New Year’s I can resolve to turn 30 with a bang, making the most out of the shreds of youth I have left. It’s sort of exciting. Maybe nothing changes on New Year’s Day, but I don’t really want things to change that much, at least not in my personal life.

Blech. I can’t end the year on that note. How about a quick reference to “Auld Lang Syne”? Wikipedia gives us this final verse, which is pretty rad:

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

Translated into modern English as:

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

Take a right gude-willie-waught, amigos and amigas. Happy New Year. And check out the Plan song below:

“The Ice of Boston” · The Dismemberment Plan · live in Seattle, 2/26/2000

Listen to this song:

(Download this song)

pop open a bottle of bubbly
yeah here’s to another goddamn new year
and outside 2 million drunk Bostonians are getting ready to sing Auld Lang Syne out of tune
i sit there and raise a cheer
looking at the clouds, orange with celebration
i wonder if you’re out there…
hey the ice of Boston is muddy
and reflects no light in the day or night
and i slip on it every time
pop open the third bottle of bubbly
yeah and i take that bottle of champagne,
go into the kitchen,
stand in front of the kitchen window,
and i take all my clothes off
i take that bottle of champagne and i pour in on my head
and i feel it cascade through my hair and across my chest
and the phone rings, and it’s my mother
and she says, “Hi honey, how’s Boston?”
and i stand there all alone on new year’s eve
butt naked, drenched in champagne
looking at a bunch of strangers
looking at them looking at me
looking at them and i say,
“I’m fine mom! How’s Washington?”
hey the ice of Boston is muddy
and reflects no light in the day or night
and i slip on it every time
so i guess the party line is i followed you up here
but i don’t know about that
mainly because knowing about that would involve
knowing about some pathetic, ridiculous, and absolutely true things about myself
that i’d rather not admit to right now
i woke up at 3 a.m. with the radio on
that Gladys Knight and the Pips song on
about how she’d rather live in his world with him than live in her own world alone
and i laid there, head spinning, trying to fall asleep
and i thought to myself,
“Oh Gladys girl, I love you, but oh, get a life!”
hey the ice of Boston is muddy
and reflects no light in the day or night
and i slip on it every time