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The Old Year

(Words and Music: Brendan Nolan; Produced and arranged by David Gossage)


Key of E flat; Guitar: Capo 3rd fret, C

In my early twenties I lived in an apartment building in Montreal where many of the tenants were elderly. There are people in this song that I’ve known or seen.

The Old Year rails at the sun
To a shadow from the past
Long since gone
And people walk around him on their way
Some shake their heads in sadness
For it’s little they can say
His hair hangs like thin moss
From his naked head
And he looks like the old year
Someone said
And the circles and the lines
That map his weary face
Make it seem like
He was never young at all

Ring in the New Year
Ring out the old
Time goes on
And this story’s been told
There is little to be learned
Dwelling on the past
A brave new world
Marches on

The Old Year lies crumpled in his bed
Too cold to bother getting up
Count those sheep instead
But soon he hears a knock upon the door
He’ll know if he can face the day
When both feet touch the floor
Only the landlord to say he’s overdue
No “good morning” or “how are you”
And the day will go on
As the days always do
May as well just close my eyes again


The Old Year faded without a friend
He was lying by the window
When the landlord called again
And he lived for twenty years down the hall
Now fresh paint covers any trace
That he was there at all
He’s with the lost ones
In a place, not the best
Away from all the ones
Who bought their rest
Oh, but it would have been fine
When they laid me down that day
If someone could have said
I passed this way