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Dan Fogelberg's living legacy

Country Musings by Robert Loy, January 2008

The world of music lost a lot of greats in 2007 - Denny Doherty (of the Mamas and the Papas), Beverly Sills, Frankie ("Rawhide") Laine, (lead singer of Boston) Brad Delp, Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Don Ho, Luciano Pavarotti, Ike Turner, Robert Goulet, Luther Ingram and, of course, Porter Wagoner and Hank Thompson, to name just a few - but none that I personally will miss more than Dan Fogelberg.

I had the privilege of interviewing Dan a few years ago, and of all the interviews I've ever done, this was by far the most enjoyable. It was the only time I can think of where an interview felt more like talking to a friend than talking to somebody trying to sell me something.

The man had no ego. When I informed him that on the same night he was playing in town George Jones was performing as well, Fogelberg laughed and said, "If I had to make that choice, I think I might have to go with George." His concerts had that same feeling of intimacy to them too, like your coolest friend welcoming you into his living room.

Some people only know Fogelberg for the ballads like "Longer" and "Same Auld Lang Syne," but he was a lot more versatile than that, doing everything from rock to jazz, bluegrass to Renaissance Christmas music. My favorite song of his is "Leader of the Band," probably because there are so few songs of filial love, and as a father, I appreciate it. In that song, Fogelberg calls himself the "living legacy" of his musician father. When I interviewed - well, when Dan and I talked that day - I asked him if he ever thought about what his legacy might be.

"No, I don't think in terms of legacy," he said. "I think in terms of life. That's why I've never been self-promoting. Life is more important than what happens afterwards. I really don't care if 50 years from now, nobody knows who the hell I was. It's more about having a great day tomorrow."

A couple of years after our conversation Dan Fogelberg was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, and he put up a message on his website (still there today) encouraging men to get their prostate exams so they don't have to leave their loved ones too soon.

He didn't say it was his legacy. I'm saying it.

Guys, PLEASE, if you're over 50 (or over 40 with a family history of prostate cancer) get a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) and a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test EVERY YEAR. I know people make jokes about the DRE, but have you noticed nobody makes jokes about prostate cancer? Get it done, it's not that bad, and it very well might save your life. Do it today, don't wait. If caught in time, prostate cancer is very treatable. If you wait too long and it becomes advanced prostate cancer, your chances for survival are significantly slimmer.

I personally think Dan Fogelberg's music will live forever, but I'm sure Dan meant what he said, and he doesn't care if you forget all the great music he gave us, so long as you have a great day tomorrow and live to see many more happy pain-free tomorrows on earth. And one way to insure that happens is to get a prostate exam regularly.

Somehow I think it's fitting that the Living Legacy's legacy is life itself.