Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Genius of Dan Fogelberg

Daniel G. Fogelberg (08/13/1951 - 12/16/2007)

Today is the third anniversary of Dan Fogelberg's death from advanced prostate cancer at the age of 56.  His music lives on, and many people are listening today to the strains of "Leader of the Band" or looking for his song lyrics or biographical information on  My favorite song of his was a lesser-known gem entitled "Run for the Roses."  I've pasted the lyrics at the bottom of this article.

I loved "Run for the Roses."  Now they only play it on Derby Day.  Since I grew up around the racetrack (my dad was a trainer and farrier and my brother was a jockey), I know the life, the smells, and the excitement very well.  The life of a racehorse isn't all glory and roses, and not all of them get to experience bluegrass pastures and retirement for breeding purposes after their racing careers are finished.  The poignancy of the race itself was reflected in Fogelberg's voice on that song.  If you listen hard, you can feel the strength and valor of the colts and fillies striving for the win, but you will also feel the pain of those horses whose lives are filled with quiet desperation.  They race their hearts out for their humans, yet many don't often experience the thrill of the win.  They eventually are relegated to lives of duty, escorting the racing "stars" as they train, offering themselves as transport for humans, for work or occasional recreational riding.  In the worst cases, they are abused, neglected, or abandoned, and their bodies may be sold for meat or worse.  I believe Fogelberg captured all those feelings in his voice and in the lyrics.  I don't know how close he was to the racing experience, but his genius lay in his empathy and the ability to bring those feelings to life.  May he rest in peace, but his music live forever.

Run For The Roses 

Born in the valley and raised in the trees 
Of Western Kentucky on wobbly knees 
With mama beside you to help you along 
You'll soon be a-growing up strong 

All the long, lazy mornings in pastures of green 
The sun on your withers, the wind in your mane 
Could never prepare you for what lies ahead 
The run for the roses so red 

And it's run for the roses as fast as you can 
Your fate is delivered, your moment's at hand 
It's the chance of a lifetime in a lifetime of chance 
And it's high time you joined in the dance 
It's high time you joined in the dance 

From sire to sire, it's born in the blood 
The fire of a mare and the strength of a stud 
It's breeding and it's training and it's something unknown 
That drives you and carries you home