This week’s Free Ride* muses on the songs of Dan Fogelberg, who would have turned 60 today had cancer not cut his life short in 2007. I always associate Fogelberg with a neighbor friend of my growing up years, Ginny, who got me to play Longer Than for her wedding. I was not a fan of the light rock genre during my senior year of high school. But I was hoping to go to LA and be a studio guitarist, so I was always really interested in hearing how the great session players plied their craft when creating any style of music, including the soft stuff. And so I learned to appreciate folks like Dan Fogelberg, who always surrounded himself with some of the best session players in the business. Russ Kunkel on drums, Linda Rondstat on background vocals, Al Perkins on steel, Willie Weeks on bass. And Fogelberg did all his own guitar work. So you might find me at home during that year of prep for a career that never happened, learning Larry Carlton bends and sweet Louis Shelton licks, and Longer Than arpeggios.
Fogelberg contributed quite a few lyrics on the theme of freedom, in syrupy songs like Sweet Magnolias and Captured Angel. But he also had an edgier side, a political side, as he hung around with the No More Nukes crowd and composed songs in protest of war and environmental destruction and the plight of Native Americans. Perhaps his biggest hit of a song in this vein came in his collaboration with flutist Tim Weisberg, when he decried the greed of our culture in Power of Gold.
The story is told
of the power of gold
and its lure on the unsuspecting
It glitters and shines,
it badgers and blinds
And constantly needs protecting
Balance the cost
of the soul you lost
with the dreams you lightly sold
Are you under…the power of gold
It’s a truth, if not a scientific fact, that longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean, people have been in love. With other people, and with gold. Needing to be free of one in order to love the other. Dan Fogelberg gave us some easy on the ears ways to listen to both sets of this long love, and figure out which is stronger. And he had some mighty good folks backing him up. Maybe it’s time to get the guitar back out and learn an arpeggio or two.