"...and I'm in Colorado when I'm not in some hotel, living out this life I've chose and come to know so well." — Dan Fogelberg, August 13, 1951 - December 16, 2007
Boomers and rock music are synonyms. We trace our lives with music. Some of our songs are hard-edged and confrontational. Some are soft and poetic.
Yesterday, one of our softest poets died. Dan Fogelberg passed away at 56 following a three-year battle with advanced prostate cancer.
Dan created part of the sound track of my life beginning in 1972. When I was grieving the departure of a girlfriend in college, Dan brought me closure with "Be on Your Way." When I was discovering new love with my future wife, Dan sang "To the Morning" in the background. When I realized the follies of my youth and looked ahead to the responsibilities of adulthood, he gave me perspective with "There's A Place in the World for a Gambler." When the urge came to own a piece of Colorado mountain property, Dan offered his sage counsel with "Long Way Home (Live in the Country)." When my father passed away, Dan further elevated my appreciation and gratitude for Dad's life with "Leader of the Band."
After the announcement three years ago that Dan was cancelling a concert tour because of advanced prostate cancer, I felt as if a brother had just received such a horrific diagnosis. Like thousands of others, I sent him a get well note:
I finally hugged my father before he left. I finally found peace after lost love. I finally claimed a purple mountain for my soul — all this because of your musical journey, always more than lyrics and melodies. I finally discovered gratitude and grace. Your music is timeless; your heart, boundless. If you should dispair, remember it's part of the plan, then set it free. Here's the hope you've given us ... back at you. Let it shine, brother.
My great good fortune was to have seen Dan perform live shortly before his fatal diagnosis. The stage did not have set embellishments we associate with big musical acts: just a bar stool, a majestic grand piano and overhead spotlights. The Paramount Theater on Colfax provided a simple, rustic, honest context that is Dan's overriding message. His perfectly tuned passion and joy came through every soulful song. We left the theater feeling better about our lives, having witnessed in two hours a pure distillation, exoneration and exaltation of mortal existence.
As the Boomer generation ages, we will continue to lose great musicians and poets like Dan, and these moments will cause survivors to pause and ponder their gifts. We could not have been fully Boomers without them.