Closing Time, Desperado and Auld Lang Syne

Edinburgh Scotland

Edinburgh Scotland

I lived between heaven and temptation my third year of medical school or more specifically my apartment was located above a heavenly pie shop and across the street from a popular bar. My classmates and I celebrated the start and end of our lives as medical students at that bar, toasted our high scores and drowned the low ones. But the truth is I spent more time at the pie shop studying than at the bar partying.

The actual apartment was a bit of a dump but it was walking distance from school and since I didn’t have a car that was more important than the peeling paint. My other good fortune was that the last tenants left behind a ratty sofa bed and rusty-legged kitchen table so the apartment came furnished at no extra charge. Despite my low standards the pullout bed was just too rich in signs of love, lust or murder to feel comfortable sleeping on so I folded it back up, draped a sheet over the couch and slept on that.

Edinburgh Castle - Scotland

Edinburgh Castle – Scotland

In the third year of medical school there was no summer break, which meant I spent the entire sultry Iowa summer sweating and sleeping on that ratty couch. By Labor Day the window was propped open with an anatomy text and remained so until the maples turned red and pumpkins started to collect at the entrance of the market.

An old slide of cowboys in 1985

Desperadoes? No just an old slide of cowboys – 1985 Washington

Each night, whether I was studying or trying to sleep, I would hear the bar crank up the sound system for the last song, Desperado by the Eagles. As the song played the bar emptied and a flood of voices filled the parking lot. Most sounded happy, some giggled and laughed uncontrollably but occasionally I’d hear edgy voices transition into shouts followed by the breaking of glass but it never got too crazy. Desperado with its drawn, sad lyrics seemed perfect for the last song of the night and even when I was trying to sleep I didn’t mind hearing it. It takes only a few notes of Desperado to cause flashbacks of that lumpy couch, sweat soaked sheet, slamming car doors and friends bidding farewell for the night or perhaps forever.

Sheep grazing near Glenn Coe - Scotland

Sheep grazing near Glencoe – Scotland

Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote a great farewell song when they penned Desperado in 1973 but in 1788 a Scottish farmer wrote the best farewell song of all, Auld Lang Syne. Robert Burns, started life as a tenant farmer’s son and despite having only a smattering of formal education became Scotland’s National Poet. Auld Lang Syne is the marriage of a Burns poem with a Scottish folk tune and has been sung at New Years Eve parties around the world for more than two hundred years. But what does “Auld Lang Syne” mean? According to wiki you can substitute “long, long ago”, “days gone bye” or “for old days” in place of “Auld Lang Syne” but that wouldn’t sound or feel right. The following video is James Taylor singing “Auld Lang Syne” combined with photos from our travels in Scotland. The Video begins in Edinburgh goes to Inverness then Glencoe and finally ends at the castle in Stirling. I hope you enjoy it.

Categories: Hiking, Travel, Writing

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9 replies

  1. The video and musical accompaniment brought back memories of the finest parts of Scotland. James Taylor was a nice counterpoint to The Eagles’ Desperado in your story. I never thought of it as a Last Call song, but it works. Especially when I think of Tequila Sunrise as The Morning After song. Cheers! – Mike

    • Hey Mike,

      Desperado and Tequila Sunrise, I suspect the boys that wrote those songs have a few stories to tell. I’m glad the video brought back some good memories of Scotland. I would like to make a few more visits there before my last call. Speaking of last calls when you’re ready to catch a beer in Bham drop me a line.

  2. From Desperado to Auld Lang Syne – lovely. The video made me kind of teary, and I’ve never even been to Scotland. Maybe I was there in another life? Thanks for the uplifting minutes.

  3. i would love to visit Scotland, and your post reinforced that. I enjoyed your video, photos and memories to the accompaniment of James Taylor’s rich voice. Lovely post, Brick. 🙂

  4. Have just searched your blog for Scottish posts and enjoyed reading this about your student days. One of our sons studied at Edinburgh University in historic buildings along the Royal Mile!

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