Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dan Fogelberg

It's been tough finding time to post the last couple of days, but I do need to say something on Dan Fogelberg, who passed away Sunday at age 56 after battling prostate cancer for the last several years.

To me, Fogelberg was a middling talent at best - sappy love songs like "Longer" undermined his more substantial rock, folk, and bluegrass efforts. Despite the saccharine balladry of his commercial peak, I hold several of his albums in high regard. The Joe Walsh-produced Souvenirs was his first successful album and a favorite of my high school years. The disc includes his first hit, "Part Of The Plan", the up-tempo, folkish "Morning Sky", and the tough-rocking "The Raven" (featuring Walsh on lead guitar). Also included is one of Fogelberg's best ballads, "Illinois", about a young man's longing to return to his roots (Fogelberg was born and raised in Peoria, and attended the University of Illinois).

The lushly-orchestrated Nether Lands spent a lot of time on my turntable in my dorm room my freshman year of college. The title track is a lovely evocation of the beauty of the high country, while "Love Gone By" is another fine up-tempo rocker. Twin Sons Of Different Mothers, his collaboration with Tim Weisberg, is perhaps his most interesting album of the period. An adept fusion of folk and jazz, the disc features the hit "The Power Of Gold". Phoenix hasn't held up so well over the years, but it contains my favorite Fogelberg song, the anti-nuke "Face The Fire". The LP also features the aforementioned "Longer", the first in a string of hit ballads including "Same Old Lang Syne" (about a chance encounter with an ex-girlfriend in a convenience store) and "Leader Of The Band", a song about his father, a musician and high school band teacher. After the hits dried up, he continued to release well-regarded albums like the bluegrass-oriented High Country Snows up until the time of his cancer diagnosis. Above all, Fogelberg was well-liked and respected by his peers, and held his fans in high regard. Dan Fogelberg seems to have been one of the genuinely nice guys in the music field.

Neither "Face The Fire" nor "Morning Sky" is readily available on the internets, so I'll give you "These Days", a strong track from his Captured Angel LP that got a lot of FM airplay at the time, but today is almost forgotten.