Dan Fogelberg confirmed on his official website that "Same Old Lang Syne" is indeed autobiographical:
- "In 1975 or 76 I was home in Peoria, Illinois visiting my family for Christmas. I went to a convenience store to pick up some whipping cream to make Irish coffees with, and quite unexpectedly ran into an old high school girlfriend. The rest of the song tells the story."
After talking for a couple of hours the conversation came to an awkward end as the lyric notes.
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out and I watched her drive away
Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain...
Having felt a fair amount of pain in high school those lyrics makes me a bit melancholy when I hear them. But the song that I will remember Dan Fogelberg most for is his song written about his Dad called "Leader of the Band". His father was a musician and he passed that talent down to Dan. Parts of the lyric made me think of my Dad while he was still alive.
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My Dad helped define who I have become both good and bad. I am blessed that there was far more good than bad in my father. I remember all that my Dad taught me and Fogelberg's song brought back memories.
I thank you for the music and your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And, papa, I don't think I said 'I love you' near enough
My Dad knew how much I loved him. Still I wish I had told him more. But this is the portion of the song that continues to impact me as a son.
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band
My Dad was a wonderful, kind, loving and flawed man. I have the flawed part down. I hope I am following his legacy of joy, kindness and love that he modeled so humbly.
The Psalmist writes that as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. I am so blessed that I had a dad that allowed me to understand how that looks. Not every man does.
Dan Fogelberg's music impacted my life and I am sad that he died after only fifty-six years. That is how old I am today. Fogelberg died far too young because of advanced prostate cancer. In a couple of weeks I will undergo my annual physical and the moment of indignity known as the digital exam. I enjoy digital in music and video but not so much in this context. That single moment is why men start sweating whenever they see rubber gloves. Before he died Fogelberg begged men to get the blood test and suffer that moment of discomfort to help prevent prostate cancer. His music will surely endure. But I hope that part of the living legacy of Dan Fogelberg will be getting stubborn men like me to take a moment to love themselves and their families by scheduling regular prostate screening.