Thursday, December 20, 2007

One Of The Great Ones Leaves Us For Higher Ground

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dear friends,
Dan left us this morning at 6:00am . He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side. His strength, dignity, and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him.
It's taken a couple days now since I first heard the news for the awful finality of it to really kick in and hit me fully. What really did it was putting Netherlands on the turntable last night and realizing that not only was it a work of art so close to perfect that no mere mortal could have created those melodies and wrote those words without backing from a higher power, but that even now, after not having played it for years, that I still know every word, every melody, every nuance from the first piano notes of Netherlands to the final chords of False Faces.
I've been to a lot of concerts in my life. Some great ones and some not so memorable, but I remember the first time I saw Dan Fogelberg and I remember it like it was yesteday. It was 1974 and myself and my buddy David were at Grand Valley's Field House for the final night of the Eagles "On the Border" tour. We were up front, as was usually the case in those days, and although my memory is not 100% I seem to recall Glen Frey coming out to announce that they'd brought a friend of their's to open the show for them, a guy named Dan Fogelberg. Well, we were there to see the Eagles, had never heard of this Dan guy, but when Dan walked out on stage with just his guitar and a chair to sit on we gave him our full attention and over the next hour we were blown away by this one guy and one guitar. What a voice, what songs......the next day I went out to the record store and bought Dan's first album and proceeded to play it until it was burned into my being.
That was 1974. Just 3 years later he gave us his 4th album, Netherlands. By then he was well known all over the planet for his music and words. He continued to make albums thru the 80's and although they continued to be high quality offerings they explored other musical areas and were less "spiritual" then Netherlands and 1981's "The Innocent Age". I"m ashamed to say that I don't recall exactly when I saw him the second time but it was in Grand Rapids and it was just him, several guitars and a piano. I brought my wife this time, not a buddy, so I'd say mid 80's would be a safe guess. I do recall vividly though the 3rd and last time I saw him. It was 2003, in South Bend, Indiana at the Morris Civic center. A place I've seen a number of concerts over the years. This time It was the 30 year anniversary tour and Dan was touring with a full band. A real Treat because I finally got to hear him do tunes that I'd sung along with for years. He was enjoying himself and even let loose enough to do some great rock n roll along with the beautiful ballads. We didn't know it at the time of course, but that was going to be Dan's last tour and looking back now I'm damn glad we made the drive to South Bend. Not long after that tour he was diagnosed with advance Prostrate cancer and although he battled for several years ultimately the cancer won and this past Sunday, the 16th of December, 2007 Dan passed away and one of the most beautiful voices I ever heard will be heard no more.
I could ramble on with more stories, but I think I'd rather put on the headphones and listen to Netherlands one more time before I call it a day. If you're so inclined to do such things you can visit the living legacy website
and light a candle for Dan, or just visit and read the notes that people all over the world have left to honor his memory. If you tend to get emotional some kleenex near by might not be a bad idea. I don't know if Dan realized fully while he was here the effect his songs had on people and the power those songs had to heal souls, but I'm pretty sure that from where he's sitting now, he does.
"And the Chords struck at birth
Grow more distant
Yet, we strike them again and again.
And we plead and we pray
For a glimmer of day
As the night folds it's wings
And decends...
Exposing the loose ends".
Thanks for the moments of peace Daniel.
I'm including this article because it's the only one I've read this week that made me smile. I'll be racing that guy to the stage should our fantasy ever come to life......
Fogelberg's death a loss to entire generation
Loss of folk/rock singer and songwriter reminds columnist of mortality
Date published: 12/20/2007
It's not quite the same as losing Elvis or even, for that matter, John Lennon. But my sense of immortality flagged a bit this week when I read about the death of Dan Fogelberg, a songwriter and folk/rock singer who was a favorite of mine.The fact that he was only 56--not that much older than my 51--accentuated the loss of the "Power of Gold" and "Leader of the Band" writer to prostate cancer.
Yes, people in my generation have lost our share of favorite performers through the years. To be sure, Lennon, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, Jim Croce, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughn and scads of other performers loved by us baby boomers have gone by the wayside. But most of them went either from their own excesses, in accidents or had their brilliant careers snuffed out by a killer. Somehow, having a favorite performer from your high school and college years succumb to prostate cancer pretty sharply undercuts the irreverent and immortal essence of rock 'n' roll.
While some see Fogelberg as a soft-rocker best known for tunes that play in malls and elevators, I have a stack of CDs with tunes that both rock and relate the wonders of life and love. My first thought on hearing he had lost his long battle with cancer was remembering Fogelberg at a concert at Paramount's Kings Dominion. That made me smile, because I attended the concert with a buddy who also enjoyed Fogelberg's range of music, from rock to jazz to country. My pal and I hadn't thought a lot about who'd be at the concert; we were just glad to have the chance to see him at a nearby venue. That evening featured Fogelberg alone, alternating between a guitar and keyboards. I remember leaving with the thought that I had just seen someone who truly understood using music and words to tell a story and evoking emotion. From "Longer" to "Dancing Shoes" to "Missing You" to "Rhythm of the Rain" and so many more tunes I'll listen to for years, he had a unique style and voice that used soft tones and harmonic melodies to reel listeners in.
While the loss of Fogelberg has made me accept the fact that this will occur more and more as the years go by, I'm not giving up on another rock 'n' roll connection. It's the fantasy, surely shared by many jackleg musicians, where I'm at a concert for say, oh, the Dave Matthews Band. Suddenly, an announcement's made about how the drummer has sprained his ankle and can't go on. "Anyone out there who could fill in for him, get instantly famous and make a million bucks, please run up here right away," says the announcer. Even when I'm 80, I'm not giving up on that one.
I'll still be out there with my sticks in my back pocket, and my feet tapping--even if they never call on me.
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415 Email:

Dan Singing "Leader of the Band"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic--but check out this Lyle Lovett CD "Joshua Judges Ruth"

"Quadropenta" from GroovyFab

Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 10:25:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tom Eckels said...

Thanks for the tip Quad....I've been listening to a lot of Lyle lately. This will be a welcome addition to the discography.


Monday, December 24, 2007 at 12:54:00 AM EST  

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