Reactions to recent stories on Dan Fogelberg, “The Zen of John Prine,” by Jason Wilber, Doc Watson & more
We were happy to receive many responses to Jason Wilber’s beautiful story about his boss, John Prine, “The Zen of John Prine.” Jason stood onstage next to John Prine for 25 years, and shared how that felt to be with that guy. And to play those songs. Almost all of the responses to this one started the same way, with “Thank you Jason for this.” The closeness he gave us to the man was unlike any other tributes written from more of a distance.
Those and other responses are here, including those about our recent publication of our original interview with John Prine, “John Prine: The American Songwriter Interview,” which Rolling Stone said was “like a master-class in songwriting.”
We also were happily surprised by the big barrage of responses
to our recent two-part series on Dan Fogelberg, “Immersed In Music: Dan Fogelberg.” It’s great to recognize to what extent our readers still love Dan with passion, as his greatness is so often overlooked while artists of the same era receive ongoing acclaim. Yet in the long, long run, the songs we love remain.
Reader responses on other subjects are coming next, including the big bunch of answers received to the question, “What is your favorite uncelebrated Paul McCartney song.”
The Zen of John Prine (In Three Lines)
by Jason Wilber, April 10, 2020
Thank you so much Jason. For me and many other Vietnam veterans, John was our guy. Primarily for “Sam Stone” but most especially the poignant line in “Hello in There”: “We lost Davey in the Korean War. Still don’t know what for. Doesn’t matter anymore.” Your beautiful guitar and peaceful presence accentuated John’s songs and performances for us all. Peace and blessings.
Thank you Jason! Thank you for taking the time and care to give us, the fans, a glimpse into the beautiful and timeless friendship you shared with “the boss.” I can only begin to imagine how much more he was to you than a boss. I feel so blessed to have watched you grow with him over the years, and listen to your strokes and tone mellow out like a nice smoky bourbon. Ah, the stories you could tell. I’m certain you’ve learned a trick or three from the man.
Jason, thank you so much for this article and moreover, being part of John’s band for so many years. Your additions to the songs are incredibly tasteful and never cross over to getting in the way of the message. I have been following “The Singing Mailman’s” career since the 70’s and the old adage that things get better with age rings true in John’s case. You have been a huge part of that, Jason and your complements to the music have been wonderful. That goes for Dave Jacques as well. I will miss seeing you three on stage, but the memories I have will absolutely sustain me. Peace.
Thank you for writing this Jason. I first saw John perform in a high school gym in Rockford, Illinois. Jimmy Buffett opened for John, if memory servers me correctly. I saw John many times over the years. With Steve Goodman, Bonnie Raitt and most recently twice at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
I remember the first time I saw you playing with him and I was very pleased to hear your tasteful work on his songs. One of the more recent shows was with Old Crow Medicine Show and it was a young crowd. I was so pleasantly surprised when all these young fans were singing the lyrics with John. They knew and were moved by his songs just like I was ever since I first heard him.
We shared an Army experience of having done basic training at Fort Dix Army Base. His verse about Donald envisioning romantic scenes “after midnight in the stillness of his barracks latrines” just instantly transported me back to basic training and described something I had witnessed at a different time in the same place, but could never have described in such an eloquent way.
In so many of his songs he captures in words all the emotional depth of the human experience. I grieve his loss for myself and the world. I hope to hear you again solo or with whoever you work with next.
2. Immersed in Music: Dan Fogelberg
Parts One & Two
For six decades, I have been subjected to verbal abuse (sometimes just pointed ribbing) dished out by self-styled avant-garde professional and amateur music “critics.” Thank you for appreciating lyrics and melodies that don’t qualify as avant-garde.
Twin Sons of Different Mothers is one of a kind.
A little story for you. One night in 2002, before the show at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, I wound up at a dinner table with each of CSNY and their manager, the late, great Gerry Tolman, just the six of us.
At one point Graham told the guys that I had been at the first show they ever did in ‘69 at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, right before they left for Woodstock. (Joni opened!) Graham said that Dan Fogelberg had also been in the audience that night and had told him that that was the night he decided to make music his life.It was definitely that kind of night! Thanks for all you do
Another beautiful, touching expression. I love the way you get into the heart of it so quickly Thank you for caring and sharing.
You are not the last! I would hear him on the radio many late nights driving home from whatever waitress job I had and cry and sing along with him and cry some more. Many fond of the memories of solitude with Dan
Hans van Gemere (from Holland)
Thanks for these beautiful articles and sharing your thoughts about my favorite singer-songwriter, Dan Fogelberg. I still feel he taught me to listen to singer-songwriters. Today i listen to singer-songwriters like Daniel Romano, Jimmy LaFave, Michael McDermott, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Gretchen Peters, Rosanne Cash etc.
Together with my wife we traveled to Colorado in 1998 to see him perform at the West Fest. We even had a brief encounter. Four years later we traveled to the USA and attended four concerts at the East Coast including a show in Ontario.
Fogelberg almost scored a hit in Holland with “Longer” and Netherlands. The last song is still sometimes played on Dutch radio. I feel he’s very underestimated by the (American) music critics and I really don’t understand why. His music and lyrics are beyond compare and they have moved and influenced me. I think that The Innocent Age is one of the best albums ever made.
Cindy Bandula Yates
Dan has walked alongside me for four decades.
I love Dan Fogelberg! Souvenirs was one of my favorites I’d put on that record and sing along, belting out harmonies, every song, from start to finish. Longtime Dan fan.
LaDawn Lee Fuhr
I’ve been a FogelFan since the beginning. I’d befriend anyone who owned Home Free. I saw him in concert twice, and they were mesmerizing experiences.
I absolutely love Dan Fogelberg!
I loved and still love Dan Fogelberg. To this day I listen to his greatest hits CD when I’m feeling reflective or nostalgia sets in.
One of the most underrated songwriters and musicians of all time! Great!
His songs were fun to play. (Most) every composer has preferences that reveal themselves over time. Fogelberg for me had a joy that seemed to always come through.
I love love love Dan Fogelberg
Connie Clevenger Withers
Dan grew up about an hour north of where I live. I had the great pleasure of seeing him on an acoustic tour, probably his last one. I couldn’t afford to go, but thankfully won tickets from a radio station. Treasured memory, for sure!
I’m a fan!! Souvenirs got me through high school in the late 70s-early 80s.
I love his music. Coincidentally I was playing The Innocent Age for dinner music tonight. Netherlands is my favorite.
How could they laugh at an artist as obviously sincere and musical as Fogelberg?I belive that in some cases his honest sentiment made them uncomfortable- some cannot tolerate art without irony and cynicism. He had none of these traits in his musical art.
Michael Wesley Hughes
I had a friend at work that was in charge of parking at the Greek [Theater in L.A.]. He would always offer me comp tickets. One afternoon he offered me six tickets for Dan Fogelberg and I took a bunch of teenagers with me to see him. First of all, the show was great. The kids were amazed by this guy they never heard of. Great band and wonderful performance, including an acoustic version of “Statesboro Blues” with him playing slide on a beautiful Martin D-45.
Second, I was amazed at how many incredibly great songs he had written and performed. The wonder of the night reminded me of how easy it was to take an artist for granted, if they weren’t always on the front pages or in the news for things other than their music. He was, indeed, a wonderful writer, great singer and performer who left us way too soon. Thanks for the post and another little reminder of how many great songwriters there are and how rich the tapestry of beautiful songs bring us love, joy and happiness.
Merritt Evan Raff
The guy really was amazing, and the musicians he aligned himself with, like Jim Messina and Joe Walsh joining him on “(Someone’s been telling you) Stories”. A timeless sound.
Read John Prine: The American Songwriter Interview, 4.22.20 here.
Wish every hack cranking out radio songs in Nashville would read this great interview with a master of the craft. Makes me proud to be a Chicago Songwriter. Funny how the Windy City produced writers like Shel Silverstein, Michael Smith, Bob Gibson , Thom Bishop and others who wrote both funny and touching songs that remain classic today.
Linda Spoerle alias Mae Shepard
Our dear pal Joe posted the message of the passing of our beloved John Prine on Tuesday evening the seventh of April… The “mOURning” had already echoed with the morning mourning of legendary John Prine’s passing, while on a “Not So” routine morning walk. Reaching our antique shoppe, on the sidewalk out front, a fresh lifeless stunning woodpecker. The nearby tree, its final resting place, and now a Tree of Forgiveness.
“And I always will remember these words my daddy said. He said, `Buddy, when you’re dead you’re a dead pecker-head.’ I hope to prove him wrong, that is, when I get to heaven.” –John Prine.
Wednesday, April 8th, 2020. Passover. From another legendary hero: “This much madness is too much sorrow!” –Neil Young. Echoes of tears. Indeed. Quite the interview!
Doc Watson’s Long Journey
June 15, 2020
Read “Doc Watson’s Long Journey” here.
Malcolm Orral Thank you so much for all the connective tissue you bring forth in this time of, I think, failed attempts at division. We will not be divided.
Terry Arbegust Excuse me, but that seems on the genius side of things, IMHO. “If ever a musician symbolized transcending those obstacles that derail the journey, it’s Doc. The man couldn’t see. Not the way regular people do, anyway.”