(Note – this is Scott writing.)
Independent thinkers, activists, and peacemakers have lost a friend in the passing yesterday of Dan Fogelberg. Just 56, Dan “the artist” Fogelberg succumbed to a long battle with prostate cancer.
To be sure, Dan Fobelberg is most famous for his soft-rock hits: tales of loves (Longer, Since you’ve asked); loves lost (The Long Way, Tell me to my face); and greed gone bad (Sutter’s Mill). Dan will also likely be “immortal” for tributes to New Years (Same Old Lang Syne); to the Kentucky Derby horses (Run for the Roses); to Geogia O’Keefe (Bones in the Sky); to under-appreciated fathers everywhere (The Leader of the Band); to abandoned seniors (Windows & Walls) and to the renewing power of nature (To the Morning).
Fogelberg’s range across 20 albums was extraordinary; he could do sappy (Wysteria), driving rock (As the Raven Flies), classical (Netherlands), jazz (Holy Road), or blue grass (High Country Snow).
I encountered his music long before he became a pop icon, via a progressive free-spirit who prized his early albums.
For one of her art classes, I had the “honor” of having my portrait painted via Fogelberg’s frame from his Souvenirs album cover. :-} She got an “A” for my embarrassment.
When I saw her dance to Fogelberg’s “Dancing Shoes,” I was smitten, a “pas de deux forever.” I sometimes wondered if she was one “who lived somewhere in Pennsylvania” in my favorite bittersweet ballad, “The Last Nail.” Two decades later, I witnessed one of Dan’s last major concerts – at Wolftrap, Virginia — one of the most incredible one person performances ever.
For all his fame, Fogelberg had an unflinching independent streak — a willingness to write for the sake of his art, not for sales; for what was on his heart, even if it ran headlong into political gales.
Consider “The Power of Gold,”
Balance the cost of the soul you lost
With the dreams you lightly sold
Then tell me that you’re free of the power of gold
or “Face the Fire” (theme song for the anti-nuclear resistance.)
I hear the thunder three miles away
The Island’s leaking into the bay
The poison is spreading
The demon is free
And people are running from what they can’t even see
or “Democracy” (1993 on the Portrait album),
Now there’s people living out in the street
Going hungry with no shoes on their feet
While the government just twiddles its thumbs
And spends more money on guns
And they keep on planning nuclear war
Tell me who is it they’re planning it for
If not the men that make their profits from hate
I swear it seems they can’t wait
Is this what democracy means?
or “A Voice for Peace.”
You know that everybody has a voice
And how they use it is their own free choice
But in your glory I will not rejoice
If you choose the ways of war…
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust
My country ’tis of thee; in God we trust
But how much longer will he shelter us
While we choose the ways of war
While the winds of war rage on
Let mine (oh let my small voice) be a voice
May such a spirit be his “living legacy.” Quaker “Friends” may especially like “the light” in Nexus (written long before we’d heard of Lexus)
Across the vein of night there cuts a path of searing light
Burning like a beacon on the edges of our sight
At the point of total darkness and the lights divine divide
A soul can let its shadow stretch and land on either side
Yet Fogelberg had his dark moments, as in The River,
I was raised by a river
Weaned upon the sky
And in the mirror of the waters
I saw myself learn to cry….
I will die by a river
As it rolls away
Bury me in the nighttime
Do not waste the day.
Years later, he’d become far more sanguine about life’s trails, as in the widely copied, “Along the Road:”
Along the road
Your steps may tumble
Your thoughts may start to stray
But through it all a heart held humble
Levels and lights your way.
I’m having my own “old lang syne moment,” listening to Dan’s quite “different” Christmas album – a favorite here in our house. Try listening to the track 8 instrumental, “snowfall,” without something tugging deep inside.
Ten years ago, Dan appended “Ever On” to a four disk collection of his music: (Portrait). It’s a fitting benediction:
May the trail rise up to meet you
May your heart rejoice in song
May the skies be fair above you
As you journey ever on.
Ever on–ever on….
May your love be there to guide us
May it always keep us strong
May we walk within your footsteps
As you lead us ever on.
Ever on Dan…. ever on.