Another December, and another calendar year, has come to an end. And so will my Christmas Song of the Day feature for 2015. There is no shortage of holiday songs that time, and radio, forgot or never knew, and as long as that is true, God willing and the creeks don’t rise, I’ll write about them. Who knows, perhaps I’ll get a chance to play some of them on the radio myself to help end their obscurity.
My Christmas Song of the Day for December 31 isn’t from Christmas per se, but it’s very closely associated with New Year’s Eve. It’s a beautiful version of that Robert Burns classic “Auld Lang Syne.”
Kate Taylor (born 1949) comes from a musical family that most famously includes her older brother James Taylor. Helped in part by the success of her sibling, she signed a recording deal and made an album for the Cotillion label, Sister Kate, in 1971. Later in the 1970s, she made two albums for Columbia, which by then was also James’ label; during that time, she had her only charting single, a remake of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss).” After her 1979 LP failed to catch fire, Kate took a two-decade break from the industry, though she would continue to perform sporadically.
On New Year’s Eve in 1998, she and her late husband, Charles Witham, were scheduled to perform a small show on Martha’s Vineyard. As part of the show, Kate planned to perform “Auld Lang Syne,” but she wanted to sing more than the one familiar verse. After looking at the archaic language of the original poem, she and Witham decided to write new words that were true to the spirit of Burns’ original, but were in more modern English. The song was well received, and Kate decided to record it. Big brother James helped with a musical arrangement and a gorgeous harmony vocal, and the CD single was released in the latter part of 1999 with all proceeds going to the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Three years later, the same version of “Auld Lang Syne” was issued on Kate’s first full-length album since 1979, Beautiful Road. Ring out the old year and bring in the new with Kate Taylor’s heartfelt rendition of the traditional Scottish song.