Behind The Song: Dan Fogelberg, “To The Morning”

Dan died on this day in 2007 at the age of 56

Dan Fogelberg, “To The Morning”

It’s the first music we heard from Dan Fogelberg and none else was needed. For “To The Morning” only, the opening song and first single from his debut album, Home Free, we’d have loved Dan Fogelberg forever. It’s a timeless and genuine hymn for being on the earth, embracing the coming of every day and all that is sacred always.

The album immediately established that he was not only a master tunesmith, but also a purveyor of harmonies so sweetly conveyed that they seemed miraculous, a soulful blend of perfectly tuned, heartfelt vocal harmonies.

Home Free was produced at Quadrophonic Studios in Nashville by Norbert Putnam. Though Dan did not play piano on every song, that is him on the keys here. The strings were arranged by Glen Spreen, with Buddy Spicher on violin and viola and Putnam on cello and stand-up bass.

I happily interviewed him on more than one occasion and was honored when he asked me to write his life story for the liner notes to his boxed set Portrait. He was a romantic man and spoke of many love songs borne out of real love. But his greatest and longest-lasting romance was with songwriting itself. He honored the mystery of songwriting, and never abandoned his reverence for what he knew was a mystic, sacred source.

“I can’t sit down in a room,” he said, “and say, ‘I’m going to write a song now.’ Or make an appointment with another songwriter, which I find absolutely ludicrous. But I know a lot of people in Nashville who make their living doing that. That’s not my style.  My stuff has to come from the creator. It has to come from an inspirational source.  And therefore I’ve gotten very patient and learned to wait. And when I force myself, it usually doesn’t work.”

Dan Fogelberg, photo by Henry Diltz

“Songwriting to me is the ultimate reward,” he said, “the ultimate thing I do. When you do a good one and it’s finished, it still feels good. It still feels great. I do it and I don’t understand it. It’s just so amazingly unconscious. It’s the most mystical thing I’ve ever experienced.”

When asked if after all these years, he knows what the secret to songwriting is, he laughed and said no.

“I sure don’t. It’s given me a little more faith in a greater being, certainly. But it’s still unexplainable. And at some point, you’ve got to make that leap from the intellectual process to blind faith, basically. You’ve got to learn to trust those feelings.”

Then, softly, he added, “You’ve got to use the force, Luke.”

Dan Fogelberg, “To The Morning,” live

“To The Morning”
By Dan Fogelberg

Watching the sun
Watching it come
Watching it come up over the rooftops

Cloudy and warm
Maybe a storm
You can never quite tell
From the morning

And it’s going to be a day
There is really no way to say no
To the morning

Yes it’s going to be a day
There is really nothing left to
Say but
Come on morning


Waiting for mail
Maybe a tale
From an old friend
Or even a lover
Sometimes there’s none
But we have fun
Thinking of all who might
Have written

And maybe there are seasons
And maybe they change
And maybe to love is not so strange

The sounds of the day
They hurry away
Now they are gone until tomorrow
When day will break
And you will wake
And you will rake your hands
Across your eyes
And realize

That it’s going to be a day
There is really no way to say no
To the morningYes it’s going to be a day
There is really nothing left to say but
Come on morning


© Dan Fogelberg/Sony ATV Music Publishing LLC

Carleen and Orlan Cahoon, “To The Morning”

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