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Dan Fogelberg: Soft Rock Superstar

Wikimedia Commons / Epic Records

Dan Fogelberg: Soft Rock Superstar

Anyone listening to adult contemporary radio in the late '70s and early '80s was bound to hear one distinctively soothing voice singing introspective songs about the intricacies of relationships. That voice belonged to Dan Fogelberg, who died five years ago today.

He dominated the Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts in 1980 with tender love song "Longer," but it wasn't just romantic relationships that inspired Fogelberg. His hit from the following year, "Leader of the Band," was written about his father, a musician and a high school band director. Fogelberg's father died just months after the single was released.

And a nostalgic – but not romantic – meeting with an old flame was the genesis for Fogelberg's holiday-tinged "Same Old Lang Syne." The song's events unfold almost exactly as they did in real life – at least, according to Jill Greulich, the woman Fogelberg wrote about. She didn't reveal herself when she first heard the song on the radio (although she knew it was about her), but she told her story after Fogelberg's death, correcting just a couple of small inaccuracies – the color of her eyes (green, not blue) and her husband's profession (gym teacher, not architect)…

It seems a little amazing that a songwriter could take a simple real-life encounter and, without much embellishing, turn the story into a song that still brings a tear to the eyes of listeners more than 30 years later. But that was Dan Fogelberg.