Yesterday, I listened to a new Dan Fogelberg record. A new, old one.
In case you haven’t heard the news, Dan’s concert at Carnegie Hall, from 1979, is being released as a live record. Even better, it’s a solo-live show. And it’s amazing.
I pre-ordered the digital download some weeks ago, and it popped up in my iTunes yesterday morning. Just in time for the long trip back from Fayetteville with my daughter.
Got a chance to listen, uninterupted, to the whole thing, and then to listen back to several songs.
O my, did it transport me back. What a time capsule!
I remember listening to Dan’s original records as I drove to and from college….especially the first four records…pre-Phoenix, if you will…
Now, I am driving my daughter back from college, and listening to a live record of the very same material. A-MAZING.
What an incredible treat for all us fans. This concert was from a seminal time in his career. His early albums had become obsessed-fan favorites. He was on the cusp of releasing “Phoenix,” which would begin a string of smash hits that later continued with “The Innocent Age.”
But this show captures that moment of pre-superstardom…the incredible artist that true “Dan-fans” know and love.
It’s just him and his guitars and keyboard. Which, of course, I love. Musically, I hang out in the folk/singer-songwriter world most of the time. And for years my favorite artists have always been those who write/sing/play their own stuff.
Dan loved doing that. I saw Dan in a live solo show twice, both after the historical time of this record (Irwin Center in Austin, and Starplex in Dallas) and both times were absolutely amazing evenings.
The record captures what I remember of those live performances…how Dan could hold an entire audience of THOUSANDS with just his guitar, keyboard, and voice….how BIG the sound was….how he could capture the essence of his songs.
Again, folk artists do this all the time…which is why they are my friends. What I love remembering is that Dan did this too.
Two observations from the listening…
First, I kept thinking of the recent blog post “Dan Fogelberg is an Underrated Guitarist.” Google it. It’s a music writer who goes back and finds little gems of Dan’s over the years…the amazing stylistic diversity in his writing and playing….rock, folk, jazz, bossa nova, pop, blues…the writer argues that far too many people just stopped with the big hits and never saw all this talent.
The reason I bring this up is that this record does the same thing. It takes you on a musical journey through hits and obscurities,..and all sorts of styles.
Second, as I listened, I kept hearing alternate tunings! Almost everything I’ve written for the past fifteen years has been in alternate tunings. For a long time, I assumed it was David Wilcox who inspired me in them.
But listening to this record, and realizing I’d heard those live show, it dawns on me that it was Dan. The alternate tunings LEAP out at me on this record….I’m gonna have field day trying to figure them out. I got so excited, I called Sheldon Felich to talk to him about it as soon as I got done listening…because I knew he’d understand.
What kept blowing my mind as I listened was to think, “He was just 27 at the time…”
He was just 27, and he’d ALREADY put out all that amazing music…music that has been a soundtrack of my life.
And the big hit, superstardom, was literally just about to burst upon him. All the hits that captured the attention of the masses are yet to come as you hear this record. In fact, “Same Old Lange Sine” is on here. And in a little gem, Dan suggests it will be on his new record…which seems to be Phoenix. (And therefore, must have been released mere months later?) But, of course, it was not….it waited until “The Innocent Age.”
I love that….artistry in real time…big songs, huge hits that are concretized in our memory and history, played here, from back in the moment they were still in flux and creation. Other big hits…the stuff most of the world knows Dan for….isn’t even a glimmer in his eye during this set list.
I LOVE that…
A HUUUGE and copious thanks to Jean Fogelberg, for shepherding this project to birth. It’s been a labor of love (You can read about it at the link), and it becomes a tender gift to the whole world. Thanks so much, Jean.
So, if you’re a Dan-fan, you MUST get this record. Period.
And if you’re one of the many folks who never moved past the hits to get to know him, this record becomes “Exhibit A” for what you’ve been missing all these years, and your best shot at redemption.
Point being, either way, you should get this.