There was a time when just about everybody thought of Guy Lombardo when it came to “Auld Lang Syne” since he and his Royal Canadians played it every New Year’s Eve for years on radio and TV. His version is available on YouTube and sounds particularly melancholy.
“Auld Lang Syne” continues to be covered by various musicians. The version by The Smithereens on their marvelous Christmas With The Smithereens album opens with the band harmonizing like a barbershop quartet before the guitars and drums kick in. From there, it morphs into a pulsating surf rock tune that’s predominantly instrumental.
Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken also tackled the song as part of group called Husky Team. This inspired instrumental take, from the Hi-Fi Christmas Party Volume 2 CD, mixes “Auld Lang Syne” with the Booker T & The MG’s 1960s hit “Green Onions.”
Perhaps the most relevant version of “Auld Lang Syne” for 2020 comes from a New Jersey band called The Cucumbers. I couldn’t find a link for it, but the song is on the various artists Ho Ho Ho Spice CD, if you have a copy of that. The guitar-driven, slightly Celtic, power pop arrangement and Deena Shoshkes’s spirited vocals cast out any trace of despair and offer instead an exhilarating sense of hope. The quest is underway and better times will soon be here.