LANE: Write me. Constantly.
RORY: Every day.
LANE: Encouraging letters full of hope and see you soons.
RORY: I’ll be tying yellow ribbons around the old oak trees.
Rory is referencing the 1973 pop song Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree by Tony Orlando and Dawn, from the album Tie a Yellow Ribbon.
The song is tells the story of a man who has “done his time”, and is returning home to find out if his sweetheart still loves him. She is supposed to leave a yellow ribbon tied around an oak tree if the answer is yes, but to his delight he finds she has put out a hundred yellow ribbons to show how very welcome home he is. This is reminiscent of the “thousand yellow daisies” that Max gave Lorelai when he proposed.
Urban legend imagined that the man was a convict getting out of prison, but the lyricist L. Russell Brown said it was about a man returning from war, inspired by the folk tales of women wearing yellow ribbons during the American Civil War to show they were waiting for a Union soldier to come home. The war is presumably the Vietnam War, since the man is riding on a bus to get home.
Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree was a massive success world-wide, and the #1 song of 1973 in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is estimated that it has been played more than three million times on radio.