Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan Fogelberg: August 13, 1951 - December 16, 2007. R.I.P.

I get home from work, and I check through e-mails and other stuff, when I stumbled upon Talmadge's blog, and my jaw dropped.

Dan Fogelberg died yesterday of prostate cancer. He was 56 years old.

I have been a huge fan of Fogelberg for a very long time. I have been fortunate to see him twice in concert - and one of those shows featured him, an acoustic guitar, and a piano - and that was it. It totally blew me away. The second time I saw him was in 1995 with my ex-wife. Ironically, I proposed to my ex-wife that weekend. Her favorite Fogelberg song was "Run for the Roses". Strangely enough, that's one I can take or leave.

In his box set, he told of a time where after "Twin Sons..." was finished, he headed for Europe because he feared that the album was heading for disaster. When he came back to the states, he had a hit record on his hands! I remember when I went to see him in 1995, he introduced "Old Tennessee" as one that "goes back many years... if you're old enough to remember this song, you probably have a babysitter tonight." The audience got the biggest kick out of that one.

I have every album the man has put out, and I love them all, but I must single one particular album out: 1981's The Innocent Age. I found that this album held so many meanings for me as I was pushing 30, and now that I am just a few months from turning 40, that meaning has now intensified. If you think about it, the album is a loosely conceptual album about getting older, and so many of those songs leave a haunting effect - and the song that the album closes with, "Ghosts", left a haunting image on me that I still can't shake, 26 years after its release.

I agree with Talmadge - the man did put out quite a bit of sappy material. But less talented people would kill for his songwriting abilities - sappy or otherwise. When the man rocked out, he could rock with the best of them. And the resume of who he has played with & produced reads like a California rock "Who's Who": the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, Little Feat, Emmylou, CSN, I could go on. In this age of computerized crap & all beats with no imagination, Fogelberg's stuff, for me, sounds like a breath of fresh air.

In 1994, my ex-wife bought a copy of the sheet music of his Greatest Hits album. I was so excited when I learned how to play "Longer" and "Leader of the Band", note for note, on my acoustic guitar. Since then, I have managed to learn, either on guitar or piano, the rest of that sheet music. But strangely enough, as you will see, some of my favorite Fogelberg songs weren't the hits.

So, without further adieu, here are my 15 favorite Fogelberg songs, in no order:

1. "Ever On" (The Wild Places, 1990)

This closes out what was, hands down, his best album of the 90s. To me, it is a fitting farewell for this man.

2. "Ghosts" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Still haunts me to this day.

3. "Windows and Walls" (Windows and Walls, 1984)

The Innocent Age was about getting older; this song is about already reaching that age and wondering what's left. Beautiful melody.

4. "Old Tennessee" (Captured Angel, 1975)

Not just because my new home state is in the title. Great song.

5. "Song from Half Mountain" (Souveniers, 1974)

Fogelberg solo - absolute killer song.

6. "The River" (Home Free, 1972)

Another haunting melody and lyric from his first album.

7. "As the Raven Flies" (Souveniers, 1974)

I agree with Tal - my favorite track from this album, and one unjustly ignored.

8. "Tullamore Dew/Phoenix" (Phoenix, 1979)

Kicks this album off with a bang. Over 8 minutes long and all awesome.

9. "Hearts and Crafts" (Portrait: The Music of Dan Fogelberg 1972-1997, 1997)

This B-side of "Same Old Lang Syne" featuring the Chieftains, and is one of his best songs.

10. "Nexus" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Very atmospheric song - kicks off this album with a bang as well.

11. "The Innocent Age" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Could be his best melody and lyric - capturing the simplicity of his heroes in the Buffalo Springfield.

12. "Road Beneath My Wheels" (Live - Greetings from the West, 1991)

A blues song with Fogelberg on bottleneck guitar? This totally rocks!

13. "Seeing You Again" (Exiles, 1987)

This song brings back a ton of memories for this one particular lady that I let go of. Seeing her again was very hard for me, but was inevitable - she was one of my sister's best friends. In retrospect, I wished I had never let her go. I would even go as far as to say that I should have married her instead of who I actually married.

14. "The Reach" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Very unjustly ignored - one of his most atmospheric and ethereal recordings.

15. "Scarecrow's Dream" (Nether Lands, 1977)

I had to throw in a curve ball, but this is a beautiful song.

Farewell, Mr. Fogelberg. And many thanks for the memories, and for all of the great music that has touched my heart and left a lasting mark on my life.



Blogger nettiemac said...

I had to blog about him too. Great post, BTW.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Talmadge G. said...

This has nothing to do with Fogelburg (unless, of course, you pull out his Christmas album from '99), but Merry Christmas to you and J-Lo. I raise a glass to both of you, hoping this will be the first of many years' worth of cherished Christmas memories, shared in your new home.

1:49 PM  

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