Core Curriculum: Dan Fogelberg

Dan Fogelberg’s continued omission from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame [1] is especially mystifying, given the fact that he recorded artistically and commercially successful albums in three decades and has influenced a wide variety of artists ranging from Garth Brooks to My Morning Jacket, and many others. Today, we will look at the compilation albums of Dan Fogelberg’s music and see if there is indeed a “core” of Dan Fogelberg songs that remain relevant outside of his biggest singles, to see if the numerous greatest hits and best of compilations capture a similar strain of his material to preserve a consistent aspect of his work. This work is meant, as before [2] to indicate the difference between periphery and core with the artist’s work and a demonstration of the similarities of approach in retrospective musical efforts to see where there is variety and where there is a consistency of approach in what is included. With that said, let us look at various retrospectives in order of their release and see what sort of patterns we find in their recording, omitting box sets and only including smaller retrospective efforts, including thematic ones. As might be imagined, Dan Fogelberg was a successful enough artist to warrant many of these efforts.

The first greatest hits album for Dan Fogelberg was, unsurprisingly, a 1982 album, Greatest Hits, that remains his most successful hits album, having gone triple platinum. It includes the following songs from his early career (up to a couple of new songs recorded after The Innocent Age):

Part of The Plan (1)
Heart Hotels (1)
Hard To Say (1)
Longer (1)
Missing You (1)
The Power Of Gold (1)
Make Love Stay (1)
Leader Of The Band (1)
Run For The Roses (1)
Same Old Lang Syne (1)

In 1995, we received the second compilation work from Dan Fogelberg, an album called Love Songs that, although it is indeed true that the songs are about love, they are not necessarily all about romantic love, which included the following tracks:

Heart Hotels (2)
Hard To Say (2)
Longer (2)
Make Love Stay (2)
Leader Of The Band (2)
Run For The Roses (2)
Same Old Lang Syne (2)
Lonely In Love (1)
A Love Like This (1)
Seeing You Again (1)

Only two years later, the compilation “Promises” was made collecting the following Dan Fogelberg songs:

To The Morning (1)
Part Of The Plan (2)
Souvenirs (1)
Looking For A Lady (1)
Song From Half Mountain (1)
Leader Of The Band (3)
More Than Ever (1)
Comes And Goes (1)
Old Tennessee (1)
Promises Made (1)

Only a year after this, a budget compilation was made of Dan Fogelberg songs called “Super Hits,” which included some hits and some more obscure selections:

The Power Of Gold (2)
Tullamore Dew (1)
Phoenix (1)
As The Raven Flies (1)
The Language Of Love (1)
Nexus (1)
Beggar’s Game (1)
Tuscon, Arizona (Gazette) (1)
She Don’t Look Back (1)
Longer (3)

Three years after this came the beginning of the more generous compilations of Dan Fogelberg’s work, The Very Best Of Dan Fogelberg, which included the following seventeen tracks:

Nether Lands (1)
Part Of The Plan (3)
Heart Hotels (3)
Longer (4)
Hard To Say (3)
Leader Of The Band (4)
Same Old Lang Syne (3)
Run For The Roses (3)
Make Love Stay (3)
Missing You (2)
The Language Of Love (2)
Believe In Me (1)
Lonely In Love (2)
She Don’t Look Back (2)
Rhythm Of The Rain (1)
Magic Every Moment (1)
A Love Like This (2)

It was only two years after this before we received another Dan Fogelberg anthology, this time the single-disc retrospective “The Essential Dan Fogelberg,” which contained the following songs:

Longer (5)
Make Love Stay (4)
Heart Hotels (4)
Same Old Lang Syne (4)
Power Of Gold (3)
Hard To Say (4)
Phoenix (2)
Part of The Plan (4)
Run For The Roses (4)
Missing You (3)
Rhythm Of The Rain (2)
Language Of Love (3)
There’s A Place In The World For A Gambler (1)
Leader Of The Band (5)

And more recently, in 2016, a very generous double-cd album, called “The Definitive Anthology” has appeared with the following songs:

Phoenix (3)
Sweet Magnolia (And The Traveling Salesman) (1)
The Language Of Love (4)
Part Of The Plan (5)
Same Old Lang Syne (5)
Run For The Roses (5)
Illinois (1)
Nether Lands (2)
There’s A Place In The World For A Gambler (2)
Tucson, Arizona (Gazette) (2)
Beggar’s Game (2)
Heart Hotels (5)
Believe In Me (2)
She Don’t Look Back (3)
Nexus (2)
Make Love Stay (5)
Seeing You Again (2)
Hard To Say (5)
Missing You (4)
As The Raven Flies (2)
A Love Like This (3)
Longer (6)
Rhythm Of The Rain (3)
Magic Every Moment (2)
The Power Of Gold (4)
Lonely In Love (3)
To The Morning (2)
Leader Of The Band (6)

Intriguingly enough, there appear a tendency for Dan Fogelberg compilations to get longer. The first four compilations for the artist, which were released in the 1980s and 1990s were all short collections of about ten songs or so. On the other hand, the three collections released since 2000 range from fourteen to twenty-eight songs, demonstrating that the canon of essential Dan Fogelberg songs is getting longer, and that any new compilations will need to be pretty big in order to compete with the extant collections that already exist, especially “The Definitive Anthology,” which does indeed look to be definitive, unless one wants to look at box sets or get the complete albums of an obviously essential artist. Given that each new compilation has added new songs and contained a certain amount of older songs, there is a question as to which songs are essential for an artist. Here is, in order of frequency, the songs that have appeared on Dan Fogelberg compilations:

Longer (6)
Leader Of The Band (6)
Hard To Say (5)
Heart Hotels (5)
Make Love Stay (5)
Part Of The Plan (5)
Same Old Lang Syne (5)
Run For The Roses (5)
The Language Of Love (4)
Missing You (4)
The Power Of Gold (4)
Phoenix (3)
A Love Like This (3)
Rhythm Of The Rain (3)
Lonely In Love (3)
She Don’t Look Back (3)
Nether Lands (2)
There’s A Place In The World For A Gambler (2)
Tucson, Arizona (Gazette) (2)
Beggar’s Game (2)
Believe In Me (2)
Nexus (2)
Seeing You Again (2)
As The Raven Flies (2)
Magic Every Moment (2)
To The Morning (2)
Illinois (1)
Sweet Magnolia (And The Traveling Salesman) (1)
Tullamore Dew (1)
Souvenirs (1)
Looking For A Lady (1)
Song From Half Mountain (1)
More Than Ever (1)
Comes And Goes (1)
Old Tennessee (1)
Promises Made (1)

If one wanted to own every single Dan Fogelberg song that had been released on a compilation, one would only need to own three compilations. 28 of the songs would be provided in the Definitive Dan Fogelberg Anthology, which has every song that has been included in more than one compilation. Promises would provide an additional seven songs that are unique to that compilation, and the obscure Super Hits compilation would provide a single unique option, Tullamore Dew. Every other compilation is entirely included within the Definitive Anthology. In stark contrast to many artists, it appears as if there has not been a definitive list of songs that are part of the canon, in that there is still an expanding selection of songs that has been included on more than one compilation, with the Definitive Anthology providing ten songs with their second appearance on a compilation alone, demonstrating an interest in increasing the list of songs that have canonical recognition.

So, what songs are essential in the canon of Dan Fogelberg works? Two songs have been included on half a dozen compilation so far, “Longer” and “Leader Of The Band,” and it is pretty clear that any compilation that does not include these two songs should not be taken seriously as a document of Fogelberg’s career when it comes to hits. An additional nine songs have been included in 4 or 5 compilations, indicating a high degree of agreement that these are essential songs by Fogelberg as well: Hard To Say, Heart Hotels, Make Love Stay, Part Of The Plan, Same Old Lang Syne, Run For The Roses, The Language Of Love, Missing You, The Power Of Gold. These eleven songs have a high degree of agreement as to their status as important songs in Fogelberg’s career, and it is unsurprising that all of the were hits. These eleven songs can be taken as core material of his that any serious compilation would need to compete with existing material. An additional 15 songs have been included on more than one compilation, marking them as emergent songs which may in time be considered canonical, with 5 of those songs approaching that status and the other ten being included for the second time in the Definitive Anthology, which marks the outer extent of Fogelberg’s definitive canon of best songs. If we consider Phoenix, A Love Like This , Rhythm Of The Rain, Lonely In Love, and She Don’t Look Back as being songs whose growing acceptance make them essential, that would mean a new compilation would need to have sixteen songs merely to equal the songs included on 3 or more existing compilations, with another ten songs beyond that which have already appeared in multiple compilations.

Where does there remain room for new compilations? It would appear, at least given the material that has appeared on compilations so far, that the most fruitful area for new compilations or new definitive songs to be found is in the posthumously released material that has not been included on a great many compilations so far. Rhythm Of The Rain, A Love Like This, and Magic Every Moment are songs that were released at the tail end of Fogelberg’s major label career and are just now approaching status as being essential hits. When an artist’s essential hits grows to the extent that Fogelberg’s has, it is clear that the artist’s music is being re-evaluated in a powerful.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/08/04/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-dan-fogelberg/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2020/07/06/core-curriculum-styx/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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