Thursday, November 10, 2005

Homage to Dan Fogelberg

I was introduced to Dan Fogelberg’s music in 1979. Sean Murphy, my good friend at the time, had a couple of albums. The first one I heard was Netherlands. Being a “band geek”, I was intrigued by any popular music that incorporated an orchestra. It wasn’t long before I jumped into the Fogelberg catalog and became a fan.

As I was also a budding singer/songwriter, I thought Fogelberg* as really cool because not only did he write the songs, he also played a lot of the instruments on the records. And not only could he play several instruments, he played them very well.

Fogelberg had everything that I wanted. He could sing well. He played guitar really well. He was a handsome devil. He wrote (what is now considered to be sappy) romantic ballads that were literate and fit my Archetype of Romantic Love.

I learned a lot about guitar playing from Fogelberg. I would play along with the albums looking at sheet music, amazed that I could make it work. Once, in my dorm room, I played the bridge from “Phoenix” along with Fogelberg as a cute coed came into the room, and she was mightily impressed. If I only had his looks, I would have got lucky. Or so I would like to think.

I recall reciting the lyrics to “There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler” to Lori once before we started dating, and I think she was impressed. Keep in mind that Lori is now married to a doctor who does not play the guitar. He’s a great guy, but I’m just saying he doesn’t play the guitar.

Over the next month or so, I intend to write about the albums that Fogelberg released from 1972-1981. These had the most impact on me and influenced a lot of my own writing and playing style. The ‘reviews’ of these records will include some mundane information regarding technique and zeitgeist, along with what individual songs meant to me on a personal level.

My Fogelberg era ended in 1984 when I left college in Texas and transferred to a smaller school in Illinois. By then I had abandoned the Archetype of Romantic Love that had ultimately failed me (which is a nice way to say that I pulled my head out of my ass and grew up a little bit).

I bought a live performance DVD last year, and enjoyed it very much. He sings in a lower register (don’t we all), and being human, seems to perspire a lot under the lights (don’t we all).

Last year, Fogelberg was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and spent almost a year aggressively fighting it. As of August 2005, his website says that he is healthy again.

*I have never met the man, so I don’t think it is good form for me to refer to him as “Dan”.