The Best Versions of ‘Auld Lang Syne’: From Billy Crystal to Rod Stewart

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Videos by Rare

Videos by Rare

At the end of When Harry Met Sally, the new lovers rush into each other’s arms on New Year’s Eve, kissing — finally — as “Auld Lang Syne” plays. It’s a triumphant, romantic moment… until Billy Crystal starts yammering:

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?”

And Meg Ryan responds, simply: “It’s about old friends.”

Undoubtedly, this is one of the best “Auld Lang Syne” moments of all time. But with New Year’s Eve right around the corner, it’s time to revisit them all.

“Auld Lang Syne”

“Auld Lang Syne” has been a New Year’s Eve tradition since the late 18th century. In 1788, the Scottish poet Robert Burns penned the lyrics in his native, Scots language, the title meaning “Times Long Past.” In 1799, his words were set to music, creating the (mostly translated) song we know today:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And the days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

And surely you will buy your cup
And surely I’ll buy mine!
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun till night
The seas between us Lord and swell
Since the days of auld lang syne

For old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot
For the sake of auld lang syne?

For old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot
In the days of auld
lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

With a focus on endings, new beginnings — and drinking — the words made for an instant New Year’s Eve classic. Or Hogmanay, as the Scots call the holiday.

‘When Harry Met Sally’

For rom-com lovers, “Auld Lang Syne” will always be associated with the breathless reunion of Harry and Sally. It’s also a rare instance in cinema where the song stands front and center, acknowledged by both characters, as they debate its meaning. The meaning is also particularly poignant given the friends-to-lovers dynamic in When Harry Met Sally.

‘Sex and the City’

In the Sex and the City movie, “Auld Lang Syne” foregrounds Carrie and Miranda’s emotional reconciliation. The beautiful rendition here is sung by Mairi Campbell, a Scottish folk singer. No wonder it sounds so authentic!

‘Elf’

Though it’s brief, Zooey Deschanel lends her memorable vocals to “Auld Lang Syne” at the end of Elf. Her singing remains a high point of the film, as well as the performance by the late, great James Caan. Watch Deschanel and Caan perform the New Year’s Eve favorite here, with Caan on keys!

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

No holiday list is complete without It’s a Wonderful Life. And though it’s sung at Christmas here, instead of New Year’s, the busy Bailey home highlights the communal joy that drives “Auld Lang Syne.” Forever, this song will be associated with George Bailey’s happy — angelic — ending.

Rod Stewart’s Version

With Scottish ancestry — his father came from Edinburgh — Rod Stewart is a natural favorite to sing “Auld Lang Syne.” Watch him wow the room, live at Scottland’s Sterling Castle in 2012. This performance has it all: a beautiful violin solo, bagpipers, fireworks, and of course, an emotional delivery from Stewart.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Was Investigated by the FBI as Communist Propoganda

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