December 16, 2007

The Last Auld Lang Syne

Dan Fogelberg left us too soon and too young at 56. He passed away earlier today after a long battle with prostate cancer. Fogelberg wrote ballads that had a knack of hewing close to the emotional bone while insinuating his deceptively simple melodies into our consciousness:

Dan Fogelberg, the singer and songwriter whose hits "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne" helped define the soft-rock era, died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56.

His death was announced in a statement released by his family through the firm Scoop Marketing, and it was also posted on the singer's Web site.

"Dan left us this morning at 6:00 a.m. He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side," it read. "His strength, dignity and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him."

I for one hate the "soft rock" label. Fogelberg was primarily a balladeer, with folk-music sensibilities in his songwriting. He could write with the emotional range of Jim Croce and Gordon Lightfoot, and his music was accessible while skillfully supporting the tenor of the lyrics of his songs. "Same Auld Lang Syne" might sound like easy listening, but anyone paying attention to the lyrics understood the pain and loneliness of former lovers coming to terms with their choices.

Even had that been the only song Fogelberg had given us, his career would have been noteworthy. However, he also wrote the elegant and poetic love ballad "Longer", a sweet and heartfelt pledge for a lifetime commitment that has found its way into many wedding celebrations. Fogelberg also sang about the conundrum of what comes after passion in "Make Love Stay", and a tribute to his father in "Leader of the Band." Fogelberg rarely used a cheap rhyme or a trite phrase, and if people write him off as an easy-listening artist, it shows they didn't listen close enough at all.

We will mourn Fogelberg's passing, and selfishly regret all of the music we will never get from him. At the same time, we will hold what we have from him a little more dearly than before. Thank you, Dan. We will not forget the leader of the band.

Michelle Malkin has more.


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» The Leader of the Band from Obi's Sister
Dan Fogelberg has died of prostate cancer. His music haunted my youth, my dating years, and can still conjure up feelings long forgotten. 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 ... [Read More]

» RIP Dan Fogelberg from The Sundries Shack
I was away from the house pretty much all day yesterday, so I missed the sad news that Dan Fogelberg had passed away. I can not claim to be a fan of Fogelberg’s music, but there’s little denying that he was a skilled musician and songwrite... [Read More]