Slowing the tempo...
Older,Wiser Dan Fogelberg Plays Down Pop Music Career

Rocky Mountain News
Michael Mehle

July 3, 1998

Most artists record a Christmas album with hopes that one of the songs becomes a seasonal hit that leads to a hefty royalty check each December. Dan Fogelberg has a different idea. The Colorado favorite spent this spring and early summer in his studio recording Christmas songs of a different sort for an album he expects won't be out until 1999 and likely won't be a Frosty the Snowman-sort of soundtrack.

"I've written some beautiful Christmas carols, but in the mode of, say, the 1640s or the 1730s,'' he said on the phone from his ranch in southwest Colorado. "It's fun. You think the song is ancient, then you see my name next to it. I've also written some good medieval lute music.''

Ah, there's nothing like medieval lute music and Christmas carols from the Middle Ages to help thwart any obvious commercial ambitions.

But then, that's Fogelberg's prerogative lately. As he said: "I've had enormous success in the pop music business, but there are other areas I find more interesting that I want to explore. I have the luxury of the success behind me.''

That past success - and a whole lot more - can be heard on last year's four-disc retrospective box set. It covers Fogelberg's various visions, from soft pop to melodic rock to lulling ballads. But when it comes to making new music, don't expect him to return to the adult contemporary pop form that made him the soft-rock poster boy with baby boomers.

"We're not talking major, commercial-type efforts here,'' he said. "I'm not talking pop music. I'm not talking radio type things. I'll be 47 this summer, so I'm looking at the things I want to do musically to satisfy myself.

"I've had my time in pop music, and I'm deeply grateful for it. But I don't see myself wanting that anymore. It's for kids. It's a young person's medium. That's what radio is about. That's what MTV is about, really. It's about image and selling stuff to kids. For me to try and write another "Same Old Lang Syne" or "Longer" would be ludicrous. That was in my 20s. That was one part of my musical evolution. For it to be interesting to me now, it has to be something that pushes past the 3 1/2 minute pop song.

"It might be a Spinal Tap sort of thing to do. It's like (the band's fabled rock opera) 'You're a saucy one, Jack.' Every pop artist says, 'I'm going to go out and write my great symphony.' I'm not interested in writing great symphonies. But I do enjoy exploring my instrument, and that's more interesting than writing pop songs for the masses.''

Fogelberg isn't through giving fans more of what they want: last summer he had the tape decks running while he went on a solo acoustic tour. He recorded more than 60 shows and is still sifting through them all to put together a live solo album.

"I've always gone back and forth from a band situation and being an acoustic guy,'' said Fogelberg, who released a double live album with his band, Dan Fogelberg Live - Greetings From the West, seven years ago. "Especially in the '90s, more and more people have said, 'I'd like to have a collection of these songs performed solo.' It's something I've always wanted to do, and I think the show that I'm doing this year is a really good one for that.''

But fans had better see Fogelberg while they still have the chance. He has said before that he wouldn't tour after he turns 50, and he's sticking to that statement - sort of.

"Nothing is written in stone, but I'm really looking at winding it down in the next four years or so. I turn 50 in 2001. But 2002 is 30 years of touring, and that might be better, to say, 'Look, 30 years is enough, thank you very much.' It's been great, but there's more to life than touring.''