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Monday, December 17, 2007


The whole soft-rock genre was never my thing, but if you listened to the radio in the late 1970's and early 1980's its exponents exhibited a fairly strong presence with groups such as the Little River Band and Air Supply wimping up the airwaves. Among these performers was one Dan Fogelberg whom, while I never got with his music, I felt was the least offensive of the bunch because his mellow stylings came off like a guy in an intimate setting relating his stories to a close friend, and as such weren't meant to be the full-on premeditated assaults of wussy treacle perpetrated by his contemporaries. And while I found his "Leader of the Band" to be somewhat vomitous I do have a soft spot for "Same Old Lang Syne," a melancholy tale of two former lovers seeing each other again after many years and sharing a moment of reminiscence, a song that means a lot more to me these days than it ever could have when I first heard it some twenty-six years ago. And now Fogelberg is dead at the unfairly young age of 56, cut down by advanced prostate cancer, not a way anybody should go. The following obit is from this morning's New York Times:

Dan Fogelberg, Lyric Rocker, Dies at 56
Published: December 17, 2007
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.

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.

“One of my dearest friends is Jimmy Buffett. From his music, people have this perception that he’s up all the time, and, of course, he’s not. Jimmy has a serious side, too.”

Later in his career, he would write material that focused on the state of the environment, an issue close to his heart.

Mr. Fogelberg’s last album was 2003’s “Full Circle,” his first album of original material in a decade. A year later his cancer was diagnosed, forcing him to forgo a planned tour.

Survivors include his wife, Jean.

Dan Fogelberg in concert (and looking a hell of a lot llike SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's Kevin Nealon).


Anonymous said...

That's a pity. I rather liked Fogleberg, not because of his hits (which were - as usual - the weakest songs in his canon) but because he had a stunning musical virtuousity(*) and a quiet truth in his songs. His early work, like Souveniers and Captured Angel, hit a comfortable midpoint between Country, Folk and Rock. His later Bluegrass album High Country Snows is one of my all-time favorite albums. Songs like "As The Raven Flies" and "The Last Nail" remain heartbreaking even today. I was never a big fan of Dan's, but the albums of his I do have are more than just guilty pleasures.

* - Originally a session musician, Fogleberg played most of the instuments on his albums and performed many of the vocal overlays as well.

Anonymous said...

I have had the pleasure of seeing Dan Fogelberg perform solo acoustic twice. His lyrics are incredibly far reaching and meaningful to me. He will be missed.