Monday, December 17, 2007

The leader of the band
Several years ago, I was a high school student at a guitar lesson, playing a new composition for my teacher.

As I was playing another four-chord song -- my specialty -- the teacher stopped me.

"You know what this sounds like?" he asked me.

I didn't answer.

"Dan Fogelberg. He sang Leader of the Band."

I didn't know the name, but I knew the song. A few years later, when I had a few extra dollars in my pocket, I picked up a Dan Fogelberg album.

What struck me, as I listened to the album, was how many songs I recognized. The man had a knack for melody and words. Sometimes the songs were very soft-rock, and reminded me of growing up, when my mother had o soft rock stations on the radio and knew of little else.

Longer is a song that I can only assume was played in weddings all over the world in the 80s, and Old Lang Syne is a brilliant piece of work, combining honest lyric with the horns that often populated his music.

When I read in Monday's paper that Fogelberg had died, I was taken aback. At 56, he was too young to die. Many of his contemporaries are running comeback tours and producing comeback albums. They're not dying.

But Fogelberg is gone, leaving a musical legacy which is quite rich. The Leader of the Band and Longer will continue to inspire today's musicians, even if they fail to realize it.

Rest in peace.



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