Folk rock singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg died yesterday of prostate cancer. He was 56.
I know Fogelberg's work will strike many as maudlin and syrupy, the sort of thing that virtually demanded the advent of punk and indie music, but I also expect that a number of those people will have a Fogelberg album or two tucked away somewhere. I confess that Netherlands was the soundtrack to which Sweet Wifey and I fell in love. I make no apologies. When you're in love, the whole world is crunchy granola. We saw him in concert in Memphis in January of 1982, at the height of his popularity, and it's one of our fondest memories.
He was a kind of thinking-man's John Denver, with a broader emotional range, set in compositions more layered, complex and original. He was a seriously accomplished musician, with real virtuosity on a number of instruments. His album Souvenirs, produced by Joe Walsh, features backing vocals and other musical help from Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash) Gerry Beckley (America) and virtually all of the Eagles. His influence can be detected in the Eagles work of the time - on albums like One of These Nights and Hotel California. It was through Fogelberg's bluegrassy album High Country Snows that I first heard the Dobro work of Jerry Douglas, so he should get props just for that.
As to the charge of excessive sweetness, it's true that a cursory tour of his radio hits will give that impression, but his albums explore the human condition a little more thoroughly. The song The River from his debut album Home Free, could be retooled as a punk/emo anthem without much effort. Depressing, angry and bereaved... if you like that sort of thing. Besides, I'm of the opinion that punk was more a response to overblown arena rock like Boston, Foreigner, Bad Co. and the like. Dan Fogelberg was no threat to rock and roll, but 38 Special, Styx and Journey were.
I can't say where he was lately as far as his Philosophy of Life was concerned, but in any case, God bless his family at this time and God grant his soul peace and rest. Thoughts and wishes can be posted at his Official Website.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Fogelberg.
Post-script to men; Prostate Cancer. Okay - you know what to do. Don't put it off. Stop making excuses and just get it over with, then have it done as often as your doctor tells you.