Greatest Hits, by Dan Fogelberg
If you’re asking me, this particular compilation was released a little early in Fogelberg’s career. This particular compilation, which includes previously unreleased songs in “Missing You” and “Make Love Stay” was released after the massive success of the singer-songwriter’s magnum opus “The Innocent Age,” and it tells of a period of personal difficulty and struggle that would lead to albums like Exile later in the artist’s career. There is something of a prophetic air to this album, in that even though the album was immensely successful, going triple platinum, and even though its song choice is stellar–the songs are all solid here–Dan Fogelberg experienced a commercial decline after this album. Even the new songs themselves have a prophetic aspect about them, in that the two new songs are somewhat prophetic about the personal struggles that the singer would face in his personal life, with “Missing You,” discussing the difficulties of being alone on the road and missing one’s spouse, and “Make Love Stay” asking the plaintive question of how one could make love stay, something that Fogelberg never seemed to completely solve, alas.
This song fulfills one of the essential aspects of a Greatest Hits album and that is to contain the artist’s hits up to that time, and all of the songs here qualify as hits. The order of the songs is changed, so this retrospective does not go beginning to end as some do, even so there is a rough placement of songs from the beginning of Fogelberg’s career first with most of the big hits from The Innocent Age towards the end, with the new and more unfamiliar songs in the middle of the collection. So it is that we begin with Fogelberg’s first hit, “Part Of The Plan,” and then move to a set of three songs that contains two songs from the middle of the time period included here in “Heart Hotels” and “Longer” along with one of the hits from his most recent album in “Hard To Say.” After this comes the two new songs as well as a somewhat lesser known but still wonderful top 40 hit in the next segment of the album, with “Missing You” and “Make Love Stay” being separated by “The Power Of Gold,” which came from one of the singer’s duet albums with Tim Weisberg. The album is then closed by three songs that were massive hits from “The Innocent Age,” specifically the lasting hits “Leader Of The Band,” “Run For The Roses,” and “Same Old Lang Syne.”
Overall, this album is somewhat disappointing only it that it contains just about every big hit of the artist on the Billboard Hot 100 and thus may give casual listeners the understanding that there was little more to the artist than these songs. Still, every song on here is a hit, and a great many of them remain worthwhile songs as part of the singer-songwriter canon of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. If later compilations are preferable to me, it is mainly because they include more songs than this one does. With only ten songs there is simply not much room at all for hidden gems, and the retrospective came early enough in the singer’s career that it misses another decade of great songs that were successful on the Adult Contemporary chart (if not the Billboard Hot 100), but those are issues that later compilations would solve. A fan should consider this album to be half or less of the essential songs of Dan Fogelberg, and something that ought to whet the appetite for even more martial from the artist.