The Music of Dan Fogelberg

Peoria Riverfront Park Dan Fogelberg Memorial Site

“To every man the mystery
Sings a different song
He fills his page of history
Dreams his dreams and is gone.”

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about an especially moving song about death by the American musician Dan Fogelberg whose lyrical rhymes often touch on existential themes. I have listened to his entire musical opus and virtually every song he wrote says something profound about life. He is also a master of surprising phrases such as in “sweetest sorrow,” “thundering, velvet hand,” or evocative poetry like “Burning lines in the book of our lives.”

Here are some more of his beautiful words and music.

Part of the Plan

I have these moments, all steady and strong
I’m feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know, I’m all worried and weak
And I feel myself starting to crumble

The meanings get lost and the teachings get tossed
And you don’t know what you’re going to do next
You wait for the sun but it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message comes through
And it says to you

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must that’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand

I had a woman Who gave me her soul
But I wasn’t ready to take it
Her heart was so fragile and heavy to hold
And I was afraid I might break it

Your conscience awakes
And you see your mistakes
And you wish someone
Would buy your confessions

The days miss their mark
And the night gets so dark
And some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message shoots through

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand

There is no Eden or heavenly gates
That you’re gonna make it to one day
But all of the answers you seek can be found
In the dreams that you dream on the way

(There is a tension here between “one day we’ll all understand” and “there is no Eden or heavenly gates.)

 The Leader of the Band (a tribute to his father)

An only child alone and wild
A cabinet maker’s son
His hands were meant for different work
And his heart was known to none

He left his home and went his lone
And solitary way
And he gave to me
A gift I know I never can repay

A quiet man of music
Denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once
But his music wouldn’t wait

He earned his love through discipline
A thundering, velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls
Took me years to understand

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band

My brother’s lives were different for they heard another call
One went to Chicago and the other to St Paul
And I’m in Colorado when I’m not in some hotel
Living out this life I’ve chose and come to know so well

I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go

I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough
And, papa, I don’t think
I said, “I love you” near enough

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul

My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band
I am the living legacy
To the leader of the band

Heart Hotels

Well there’s too many windows in this old hotel
And rooms filled with reckless pride
And the walls have grown sturdy and the halls have worn well
But there is nobody living inside, nobody living inside

Gonna pull in the shutters on this heart of mine
Roll up the carpets and pull in the blinds
And retreat to the chambers that I left behind
In hopes there’s still may be love left to find, still may be love left to find

Seek inspiration in daily affairs
Now you soul is improper and requires repairs
And the voices you hear at the top of the stairs
Are only echoes of unanswered prayers, echoes of unanswered prayers

Well there’s too many windows in this old hotel
And rooms filled with reckless pride
And the walls have grown sturdy and the halls have worn well
But there is nobody living inside, nobody living inside.

Along The Road

Joy at the start
Fear in the journey
Joy in the coming home
A part of the heart gets lost in the learning
Somewhere along the road

Along the road your path may wander
A pilgrim’s faith may fail
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Darkness obscures the trail

Cursing the quest
Courting disaster
Measureless nights forebode
Moments of rest
Glimpses of laughter
Are treasured along the road

Along the road your steps may stumble
Your thoughts may start to stray
But through it all a heart held humble
Levels and lights your way

Joy at the start
Fear in the journey
Joy in the coming home
A part of the heart gets lost in the learning

Somewhere along the road
Somewhere along the road
Somewhere along the road

Same Old Lang Syne

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stood behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn’t recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation lagged

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
We tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

She said she’s married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn’t like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes, I wasn’t sure if I saw
Doubt or gratitude

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the traveling was Hell

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
We tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving, in our eloquence
Another “Auld Lang Syne”

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And, as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain.

Longer 

Longer than ther’ve been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens
I’ve been in love with you

Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you

I’ll bring fire in the winters’
You’ll send showers in the springs
We’ll fly through the falls and summer
with love on our wings

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks
And the pages start to yellow

Longer than ther’ve been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens
I’ve been in love with you
I am in love with you.

River of Souls

I take my place along the shore
And I wait for the tide
It seems I’ve passed this way before
In an earlier time

I hear a voice like mystery
Blowing warm through the night
The silent moon embraces me
And I’m drawn to her light

I follow footprints in the sand
To a circle of stone
Find a fire burning bright
Though I came here alone

And in the play of shadows cast
I can dimly discern
The shapes of all who’ve gone before
Calling me to return

There are no names
That fit these faces
There are no lines that can define
These ancient spaces
The spirits dance across the ages
And melt into a river of souls

Lo que es de mio ~~ what is mine ~~
Lo que es de dios ~~ what is god’s ~~
Lo que es del rio ~~ what is the river’s ~~
Melt into a river of souls

I take my place along the shore
And I wait for the tide
It seems I’ve passed this way before
In an earlier time

To every man the mystery
Sings a different song
He fills his page of history
Dreams his dreams and is gone

There are no names
That fit these faces
There are no lines that can define
These ancient spaces
The spirits dance across the ages
And melt into a river of souls

Lo que es de mio ~~ what is mine ~~
Lo que es de dios ~~ what is god’s ~~
Lo que es del rio ~~ what is the river’s ~~
Melt into a river of souls

I highly recommend the music of this wonderful singer, songwriter, and artist.


Very Best of Dan Fogelberg


Dan Fogelberg: Greatest Hits


Phoenix


Box Set Series

Thank you Dan for your artistic contributions. I hope you have melted into a river of souls.

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3 thoughts on “The Music of Dan Fogelberg

  1. I agree, these lyrics really pack a punch. As a musician myself who however only wrote instrumental music because I am not good with words, I can definitely appreciate them even more. Instrumental music can be great, but when you have meaningful words too, then it become really something special. And the best songs give this strange feeling as if the song is speaking directly to you, almost as if the song was written for you.

    Thanks for the article.

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