December 28, 2022

Happy New Year?

I was scrolling through YouTube the other day, looking for some video of Guy Lombardo ringing in the new year as crowds cheered in Times Square, when it occurred to me to wonder if people really celebrate New Year's like this anymore, with a sense of optimism about the coming year. Otherwise, I mean, what's the point of celebrating, other than as an excuse for getting drunk? (And frankly, wouldn't that make more sense if you were convinced that next year would be even worse than this year had been?)

As 1940 passed into 1941, there would have been a sense of apprehension about the European war, but still confidence that we'd be able to remain out of it. As 1962 turned to 1963, we lived in dangerous times, but nobody would have had a clue about what was coming next. And then 1967 becomes 1968, and the new year couldn't possibly be as bad, could it? We all worried about Y2K, and when that didn't happen, we celebrated 2001 because of the movie and all. When 2019 slid seamlessly into 2020, the talk was about a new Roaring Twenties. How'd that work out for you? It would all be fixed by 2021 though, which had to be better, but it wasn't. Neither was 2022. Is there any reason to believe 2023 will be any different?

On a personal level, our lives have shown improvement each year, but I like to think it's been because of proactive things we've done to make things better for us. In that sense, I have guarded optimism that 2023 will continue in that trend. But make no mistake; if so, it will be a personal victory in a world that continues to deteriorate. And I have to ask myself, in all this, how a society can possibly keep going when its people have no confidence that things will, or even can, get better? Without that hope, how does it survive? The answer can only be inside each of us, I suppose.

Ah yes, Guy Lombardo. For those of you who don't remember the name, Guy Lombardo epitomized New Year's Eve for generations of Americans. He and his Royal Canadians began ringing in the New Year on radio in 1929 and on television in 1956, and though he displayed a musical style that some thought was old fashioned even back then, his fans included both Lawrence Welk and Louis Armstrong. You could usually find Guy and the orchestra ringing in the new year from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, and it was a fixture on CBS (except for a few years in the late 1960s when the show was syndicated), with no serious challenger until Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve came along. His popularity remained, though, to the extent that even though he died in 1977, the broadcast continued for a couple of additional years. For many people, his rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" remains the definitive way to celebrate the beginning of the new year, even if they don't know who's performing it.

Here's the 1957-58 show in glorious black and white, as well as a clip from his last show, on New Year's Eve 1976; although the show's in color (and some of the music is a painful attempt to be modern), there's still kind of a black and white sense to it, don't you think? (I love how CBS is still using the same kind of clock they had on the Gemini and Apollo flights!)

New Year's Eve hasn't been the same without Guy Lombardo, just as it isn't the same without Dick Clark. Just as it isn't the same without hope and optimism. Nevertheless, you have the opportunity to make it good for you, so go out there and make it so. TV  


  1. Guy had the perfect line back in the day..."When I go, I am taking New Year's Eve with me..."

  2. I presume that there was no ball drop.or other public New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square on December 31, 1942, December 31, 1943, or December 31, 1944 due to World War II. The Times Square celebration probably resumed on December 31, 1945, after the war had ended.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!