The True Story Behind This Holiday Song Will Tear At Your Heart

Dan Fogelberg from www.danfogelberg.com

A chance encounter with a high school sweetheart on Christmas Eve is the story told in the song “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg. You’ve probably heard it hundreds of times every holiday season.

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

The lyrics just grab you right away – and as it turns out, it’s a true story!

The year was 1975 and Fogelberg was at his parents’ home in Peoria, Illinois for Christmas. They wanted to make Irish coffees so he headed out to buy whipping cream.

His high school sweetheart had also returned home and was sent to the store for egg nog.

The only store that was open was a convenience store and they both ended up there at the same time.

She didn’t recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

They talked for a bit inside the store, and then went outside to split a six-pack of beer in the parking lot. They had some drinks, reminisced, and then went their separate ways.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

Fogelberg released the song “Same Old Lang Syne” in 1980 and it was an instant hit. He never revealed the name of his former girlfriend and her identity remained a mystery for many years. Fogelberg died of prostate cancer on December 16, 2007, at age 56 and fans figured the mystery died along with him.

But a few days after his death, a woman named Jill Anderson Greulich came forward with her story to the Peoria Journal Star. She said she is the woman in the song, and she first heard it while driving to work but kept quiet about it. She said Fogelberg took a couple of artistic licenses with the story: her eyes are green, not blue, and her husband was a P.E. teacher, not an architect, but otherwise, it’s a true story.

On the 40th anniversary of the song, Greulich said “I am so glad that Dan was a part of my life!”

In 2008, the City of Peoria gave the street outside that convenience store the honorary designation of “Fogelberg Parkway”.

Now that you know the story behind the song, you may hear and feel it differently!

Met my old lover in the grocery storeThe snow was falling Christmas EveI stole behind her in the frozen foodsAnd I touched her on the sleeve
She didn’t recognize the face at firstBut then her eyes flew open wideShe went to hug me, and she spilled her purseAnd we laughed until we cried
We took her groceries to the checkout standThe food was totaled up and baggedWe stood there lost in our embarrassmentAs the conversation dragged
Went to have ourselves a drink or twoBut couldn’t find an open barWe bought a six-pack at the liquor storeAnd we drank it in her car
We drank a toast to innocenceWe drank a toast to nowAnd tried to reach beyond the emptinessBut neither one knew how
She said she’d married her an architectWho kept her warm and safe and dryShe would’ve liked to say she loved the manBut she didn’t like to lie
I said the years had been a friend to herAnd that her eyes were still as blueBut in those eyes, I wasn’t sure if ISaw doubt or gratitude
She said she saw me in the record storesAnd that I must be doing wellI said, “The audience was heavenlyBut the traveling was hell”
We drank a toast to innocenceWe drank a toast to nowAnd tried to reach beyond the emptinessBut neither one knew how
We drank a toast to innocenceWe drank a toast to timeReliving in our eloquenceAnother auld lang syne
The beer was empty, and our tongues were tiredAnd running out of things to sayShe gave a kiss to me as I got outAnd I watched her drive away
Just for a moment, I was back at schoolAnd felt that old familiar painAnd as I turned to make my way back homeThe snow turned into rain
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