"Top Five" songs to celebrate the new year


Unlike Christmas songs, which flood malls and living rooms with mediocrity for what seems like months, there are very few New Year’s related songs out there. Of course there’s the classic “Auld Lang Syne,” but it was recorded in the late 1700s. Here’s a few New Year’s songs that weren’t recorded before the Civil War to get 2009 started on the right foot.

“New Year’s Resolution” – Donovan
It’s hard not to like Donovan. Songs like “Sunshine Superman,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and “Mellow Yellow” feature his apathetically warm vocal styling that feels at home on a Wes Anderson soundtrack. The troubadour’s sound blends a mix of folk, jazz, pop and psychedelia. He even taught John Lennon and Paul McCartney his finger-picking guitar style, which is utilized prominently in this largely instrumental song that has seemingly no lyrical connection to New Year’s, but is beautiful nonetheless.

“Revolution I” – The Beatles
Fitting for the times when we’re all in need of some change, this plodding ballad provides an adequate backdrop for today’s warring and unstable world. The Beatles repeatedly tell you “it’s gonna be all right” – an optimism that is offset by the usual anti-institutional complaints of the 1960s. Aside from this, you could always sing the chorus as “You say you want a resolution …” to remind yourself to keep those New Year’s promises to yourself.

“New Year’s Day” – U2
Most likely, no one besides Bono and the gang has a clue or a care the song is about the Polish Solidarity Movement, an anti-communist movement that, oddly enough, took place in communist Poland in the 1980s. Still, this is a beautiful song, and like most U2 songs, you don’t have to jump on board with Bono’s politics and activism to enjoy it. So crank it up and just pay attention to the part where they say “New Year’s Day” in the chorus and pretend it’s about being hung-over with your friends Jan. 1.

“In the New Year” – The Walkmen
In a song that could easily be confused as a Bob Dylan cover with a lack of lyrical ambition and talent, New York’s The Walkmen ring in the New Year with a waltzy meandering that features some aptly appropriate material. Guitarist/vocalist Hamilton Leithauser sings “I know that it’s true/It’s gonna be a good year/Out of the darkness/And into the fire/I’ll tell you I love you/And my heart’s in the strangest place/That’s how it started/And that’s how it ends.”

“The New Year” – Death cab for Cutie
Though the lyrics are mind-numbingly obvious, this song pretty much hits the nail on the head for every New Year’s party I’ve ever been to. “So this is the New Year/And I have no resolutions/For self assigned penance/For problems with easy solutions/So everybody put your best suit or dress on/Let’s make believe that we are wealthy for just this once/Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn/As thirty dialogs bleed into one.” Happy New Year everyone!

Compiled by Jason Yurgartis.