Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan Fogelberg 1951-2007

Light-rock guru Dan Fogelberg, mandatory listening in 1970s California, has passed on. He is survived by his wife, Jean.

Dan Fogelberg, Lyric Rocker, Dies at 56
December 17, 2007, The New York Times

Dan Fogelberg, the singer and songwriter whose hits “Leader of the Band” and “Same Old Lang Syne” helped define the soft-rock era, died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56.

His death was announced Sunday in a statement released by his family through the firm Scoop Marketing and also posted on his Web site.

Mr. Fogelberg learned he had advanced prostate cancer in 2004. In a statement then, he thanked fans for their support. “It is truly overwhelming and humbling to realize how many lives my music has touched so deeply all these years,” he wrote. “I thank you from the very depths of my heart.”

Mr. Fogelberg’s music was powerful in its simplicity. He did not rely on the volume of his voice to convey his emotions; instead, they came through in his soft, tender delivery and his poignant lyrics. Songs like “Same Old Lang Syne,” in which a man reminisces after meeting an old girlfriend by chance during the holidays, became classics not only for his performance, but also for their engaging story lines.

Mr. Fogelberg’s heyday was in the 1970s and early ’80s, when he scored several platinum and multiplatinum records fueled by such hits as “The Power of Gold” and “Leader of the Band,” a touching tribute he wrote to his father, a bandleader. Mr. Fogelberg put out his first album in 1972.

Mr. Fogelberg’s songs tended to have a weighty tone, reflecting on emotional issues in a serious way. But in an interview with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 1997, he said it did not represent his personality.

“That came from my singles in the early ’80s,” he said. “I think it probably really started on the radio. I’m not a dour person in the least. I’m actually kind of a happy person. Music doesn’t really reflect the whole person.”
I was secretly terribly fond of his song Part of the Plan, the lyrics of which carried me through many a personal crisis:

I have these moments
All steady and strong
I’m feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know
I’m all worried and weak
And I feel myself
Starting to crumble.

The meanings get lost
And the teachings get tossed
And you don’t know what you’re
Going to do next.
You wait for the sun
But it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes
Through to you.
Some kind of message comes through.

And it says to you (chorus)

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand

I had a woman
Who gave me her soul
But I wasn’t ready to
Take it.
Her heart was so fragile
And heavy to hold
And I was afraid I might
Break it.

Your conscience awakes
And you see your mistakes
And you wish someone
Would buy your confessions.
The days miss their mark
And the night gets so dark
And some kind of message
Comes through to you
Some kind of message
Shoots through --

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand

There is no eden or
Heavenly gates
That you’re gonna make it to
One day
But all of the answers you seek
Can be found
In the dreams that you dream
On the way.

The following is the only version of the song I could find on YouTube, by some fellows I've never heard of, the Wheezetones. This was apparently their first show, too! Nonetheless, they give this charming, wonderful song the respect it deserves, and it's worth listening to if you've never heard it before. The song is an exact cover of Fogelberg's original, including the magically-acoustic finish.

The Wheezetones- Part of the Plan

[via FoxyTunes / Dan Fogelberg]

Thanks for the song, Dan. Resquiat in pace.


abstractjenn said...

56 is so young! My thoughts are with his family.

Renegade Evolution said...

man, that stinks.

shadocat said...

I never realized how much I loved Dan Fogelberg's music, until I heard the news of his death. His songs were a big part of my early adulthood, and many of them mirror some of my own experiences. He was underappreciated in his day--maybe now we'll take another listen to his music and realize how great it was.

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