meaning and early instances of ‘same old, same old’

Of American-English origin, the phrase same old, same old is used to convey that something is unvaryingly familiar or drearily predictable.

This phrase is first recorded as the title of a song by Roger Kellaway (born 1939), American jazz pianist and composer, who, in an email dated 12th March 2016, told the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary (draft additions, September 2016) how he happened to choose this title:

In 1959 I was playing bass with Ralph Marterie’s Big Band. In the saxophone section playing first Tenor was Joe Farrell. Joe was the first person that I ever heard say, “Same Old, Same Old”. I have no recollection of ever hearing anyone else use this expression. I just liked it as a song title. That’s why I used it.

This song was registered on 27th December 1963, as number EU804382, in the Catalog [sic] of Copyright Entries (Copyright Office – The Library of Congress, Washington, 1964)—m stands for music, and d. b. a. for doing business as:

Same Old, Same Old; m Roger Kellaway. © Jack La Forge, d. b. a. La Forge Pub. Co; 27Dec63; EU804382.

A Jazz Portrait of Roger Kellaway, the record in which first appeared Same Old, Same Old, was awarded a ‘Jazz Special Merit’ by Billboard: The International Music-Record Newsweekly (The Billboard Publishing Company – Cincinnati, Ohio) of 22nd February 1964:

Special Merit Picks are new releases of outstanding merit which deserve exposure and which could have commercial success within their respective categories of music.
                                                           Jazz Special Merit
A Jazz Portrait of Roger Kellaway
Jim Hall, Regina R 298 (M)
Although Roger Kellaway is a relative newcomer he has nevertheless a brilliant solo style of his own. Jazz and piano devotees will delight in finding this fine jazz talent. Six of the selections are Kellaway compositions. Listeners will probably be hearing his “Same Old, Same Old” played as a single on many pop radio stations across the country in the near future.

Same Old, Same Old – Roger Kellaway – Billboard – 22 February 1964

The second-earliest instance of same old, same old that I have found is from Habilitat: Learning to Live Without, an article about Windward Habilitat, Inc., a rehabilitative live-in programme for drug addicts, published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii) of 8th June 1971; one of the staff, Gerard DeLiso, explained the following to the reporter, Murry Engle:

“First, understand, nobody really comes here looking for help. They come here under pressure of some sort—parole, their parents, the court, being afraid of that last and final overdose, or just being tired of the same old, same old.”

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