Happy Dan Fogelberg Day

Today would have been his 70th birthday.

The Fogelberg Page (main)



All Photos by HENRY DILTZ

courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery

“Sometimes a song’s the only way to
Show you my heart will never stray
So if I can’t find words to tell you
I’ll sing what I cannot say “


From “Sometime A Song”
By Dan Fogelberg




Today, August 13, 2021, would have been Dan Fogelberg’s 70th birthday.

The “would have been” part of that sentence comes with no lack of sorrow. So many of our most beloved singer-songwriters emerged in our lives, blossomed with remarkable, singular, powerful songs, and then left to start their next adventure before ever getting old here. The list of names is familiar and sorrowful, so no need to include it here.

But starting with the death of Lennon in 1980, we’ve come to accept this surreal, schizoid experience of losing a beloved artist, yet still holding their songs in our hands. And these songs aren’t dimished even slightly by their death. In many ways, they are deepened. The poignant ones are more poignant, and the rockers more triumphant. It’s the power of song. Inextinguishable. Impervious to time.

After all, these records were more than performances of songs written by somebody else. These were songs from their hearts and souls of the songwriter, emerging out of their real-time lives. These songs are the pure, living expressions set in motion by a living songwriter during his lifetime, which spin on forever.

That’s the way it’s been with the songs of Dan Fogelberg. I remember well back to 1972, the first time I heard the first song on Home Free, his first album. “To The Morning.” I was stunned. Could that really have been as beautiful and poignant as it seemed? Though it was on an album – his debut LP – that song could have been a 45 for me, as I had to hear it over and over. It was as beautiful as I thought.

Today, after some 48 years have passed since we first heard it, “To The Morning” still is stunning.

In 1992, during our first interview following the release of his album River of Souls. Dan told me he didn’t like hearing “To The Morning” or any of the Home Free album. “That album gives me the willies,” he said.

The willies?

“It’s just so young,” he said. “I just wish I was a little more mature when I wrote it. To me, my voice just sounded so high and so young.”

Of course, that is not the way it sounded to us, his fans. Which is why it amazed him how many fans told him Home Free was their favorite album. Yet it’s an undeniable classic. Though he did develop into a stronger singer as he got older, Dan Fogelberg’s inaugural singing on Home Free is positively angelic. And not only the lead vocals, but all the gorgeous harmonies he sang himself. Very few singers, with the exception of Joni Mitchell, ever rendered their own harmonies so beautifully as Dan.

Dan didn’t have any problem with the song itself, or the songwriting. Only the voice. But that song didn’t come from his voice. It came from his soul. And he had an old soul. It’s instilled in the enduring beauty of “To The Morning.”

Dan Fogelberg, “To The Morning,” from Home Free, 1972.

Dan Fogelberg, “To The Morning,” Live. March 20, 1976 Capitol Theatre, Passaic, New Jersey


Part of his reaction might be due to the fact that Home Free did not sell well, causing Dan to believe it was flawed somehow. It wasn’t. But it was his second album, Souvenirs, produced and empowered with less folk and more rock by Joe Walsh, that was an artistic and commercial success both. And his songs soared from then on.

“Dan by the River,” by Henry Diltz., 1993


 Dan died of Prostate Cancer at his home in Deer Isle. He was 56. In 2008, his wife, Jean Fogelberg, released “Sometimes A Song,” which Dan wrote for her on Valentine’s Day, 2005. It’s a song about the power of song, and the joy of songwriting, and is pure and essential Dan. All proceeds went to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

It was also included on a CD released in September 2009 titled Love in Time, a collection of 11 previously unpublished songs.

Dan Fogelberg, “Sometimes A Song,

“Sometimes A Song”
By Dan Fogelberg

No photo description available.
Photo by Henry Diltz.
“This was back in June of 1975,” said Henry, under the Colorado afternoon sky. This was right outside the cabin in the mountains above Boulder. Ole’ Dan went to the other side years ago. Thanks for leaving all that great music Dan, but we miss your conversation and your energy. See ya over there.”

Listen to me and I will try to
Sing you a song that makes you see
How much I long to be beside you
And how much you mean to me

Sometimes a song’s the only way to
Show you my heart will never stray
So if I can’t find words to tell you
I’ll sing what I cannot say

Let me sing you a field full of waving flowers
I’ll sing of the sun on the sea
Oh this is the way that you make me feel
Every time you smile at me
Will you only smile for me

At times it must seem I take for granted
All of the little things you do
Know in your heart I’m so enchanted
And still so in love with you
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Sometimes a song’s the only way to
Show you my heart will never stray
So if I can’t find words to tell you
I’ll sing what I cannot say

Let me sing you a field full of waving flowers
I’ll sing of the sun on the sea
Oh this is the way that you make me feel
Every time you smile at me
Will you only smile for me

Listen to me and I will try to
Sing you a song that makes you see
How much I long to be beside you
And how much you mean to me
Yes and how much you mean to me

May be an image of 2 people and people smiling
Glenn Frey, Irving Azoff & Dan. Photo by Henry Diltz.
HENRY DILTZ: On tour with Dan in 1977, we played Detroit where Glenn Frey was from. He was in town and after the concert I rode in the limo with Dan, Glenn, and Irving Azoff. We got back to the hotel and the restaurant was closed.. but Irving made them open it so the band and crew could eat dinner. I remember we went through three bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, the finest wine in the world!



“There are songs that people say are the soundtrack of your life, you remember who you were, who you were dating, when this song is on. And then there are songs that aren’t meant to peg a moment in time, but what they did is inspire the next two or three years of your life or a turn in the road. In college, I would take out my Dan Fogelberg records, and would read a passage (of lyrics) from Fogelberg’s work, and go about my day. That was an artist who changed my life, who made me change where I wanted to go and the music I wanted to play, and thus, led me here.”

-Garth Brooks



For more:
See Dan Fogelberg; Immersed in Music, Part One.

Dan Fogelberg, Immersed in Music, Part Two.

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