Dan Fogelberg “Home Free”

 

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#643 in the Series) is Dan Fogelberg, Home Free

Somehow it’s easier to believe its 40 years since the release of Dan Fogelberg’s inaugural album Home Free than to accept it’s also going on five years since the untimely passing of the Illinois’ native.

Look “Dan Fogelberg” up in Wikipedia and you’ll read that Home Free met with a “lukewarm” response—but that’s not the way it was that fall in Champaign at a time when a college freshman could walk wide-eyed into the music store heaven known as Record Service and encounter a giant display in support of this album.  Suffice it to say it appeared they were buying and selling it by the case!  Such as the state of Mr. Checkbook was at the time however, sad to say that every album that caught my eye couldn’t necessarily follow me home—but my interest was steadily kindled by folks still buzzing about his already legendary sets at places like the Red Herring coffeehouse.

First one in for Sunday morning shifts at the Garcia’s (pizza by the slice!) across the street from the Alma Mater statue got to load the day’s first cassette in the deck and I’d haul buns early for a crack at popping in Home Free. and so going about the business of preparing mass quantities of tomato sauce, the usual toppings, and the first “gut busters” of the day, ever so often got to hear this exquisite suite of countrified folk songs.

It kicks off brilliantly enough with five seconds of silence—broken by the fade-in of a gorgeous chord (strings?), then tentative, tinkling piano, evoking first glimmers of daylight in the wistful, philosophical, and ultimately hopeful ode “To the Morning.”

Up next “Stars” spins a warm, rolling six-string fingerpicking intro into a cinematic tale of unrequited love (think John Cusack wailing in the rain, sitting on the curb at Damen and Milwaukee in “High Fidelity”!) …and it’s getting easier each day to weep about you/harder every night to sleep without you… before Fogelberg turns this lament directly on the object of his yearning: How many years must I be/driven by this dream of love with you?

A pedal steel fanfare heralds an ultimatum—If there are any words that we haven’t said, then let us say them—in “More Than Ever.”  No longer bargaining with romance the singer here commits unilaterally and spiritually: …More than ever I’ll wait for you there/and I’ll never need more than a prayer/to be near you.

Other highlights include: fiddle-infused back-to-nature manifesto: “Long Way Home (Live in the Country),” the toe-tapping, rollicking “Anyway I Love You”, haunting “Wysteria,” and the stormy, tormented saga of the finale, “The River,” …I will die by a river/as it rolls away/bury me in the nighttime/ do not waste the day

Having personally contributed to the ultimate Platinum certification of “Home Free” several times via re-issues on lp, cassette, and CD through the years, I was first surprised and ultimately saddened to read an interview or two in the ’90s where Fogelberg virtually disowned this work, expressing mystification that so many have cherished these songs.  I don‘t know that I would have changed his mind about Home Free but would love to have had the chance to try!

-—Richard Huttel

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Track listing

All songs written by Dan Fogelberg.

  1. “To the Morning” – 6:34
  2. “Stars” – 3:30
  3. “More Than Ever” – 5:14
  4. “Be on Your Way” – 3:24
  5. “Hickory Grove” – 4:40
  6. “Long Way Home (Live in the Country)” – 5:31
  7. “Looking for a Lady” – 2:58
  8. “Anyway I Love You” – 3:50
  9. “Wysteria” – 4:03
  10. “The River” – 7:13

Personnel

  • Dan Fogelberg – organ, acoustic guitar, guitar, piano, electric guitar, keyboard, vocals, Moog synthesizer
  • David Briggs – organ, piano
  • Kenneth A. Buttrey – percussion, drums
  • Farrell Morris – percussion, vibraphone
  • Weldon Myrick – dobro, guitar, pedal steel, steel guitar
  • Norbert Putnam – bass, cello
  • Buddy Spicher – fiddle, violin, viola
  • Glen Spreen – strings

 Links

Listen to Home Free below

Check out these Singer/Songwriter albums

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Posted by Larry Carta

11 Comments

  1. Kevin Fitzpatrick (02 Mar 2012, 20:02)
    Reply

    Beautiful music to accompany equally beautiful memories of a youth long evaporated.

  2. Laurie (02 Mar 2012, 20:06)
    Reply

    this album got me hooked on DF…he’s the best!

  3. Kathy (02 Mar 2012, 21:11)
    Reply

    I first heard this album played over the Quinnipiac college radio station in 1972. I was mesmerized by his beautiful sound, and once I learned it was DF I asked my father to see if they had it at Cutlers, a popular music store in New Haven. The next day it was waiting for me when I got home from classes. It’s been my favorite album ever since.

  4. Kathy Smith (02 Mar 2012, 21:47)
    Reply

    One of my all-time favorite albums! It got much more than a “lukewarm response” in Jackson, MS when it came out!

  5. Sheila (02 Mar 2012, 22:03)
    Reply

    Home Free will always be the best Album of all times. There isn’t one song on this album that I don’t love and always will. I miss you Dan and your wonderful songs. From the 1st time I heard Dan I was hooked. The greatest songwriter I have ever heard.
    .

  6. Deb (03 Mar 2012, 6:34)
    Reply

    Hooked the first time I heard him. My roomie and actually wore out several copies of Home Free! Miss him much!

  7. Lee (03 Mar 2012, 9:16)
    Reply

    aaaaahhhhh 1972 a very good year for music!

  8. Joyce (03 Mar 2012, 10:59)
    Reply

    This album is as fresh and beautiful as it was 40 years ago. I can’t believe it’s been that long, or that I still know all the words to these songs. Thanks for the memories and the beautiful picture show.

  9. Paul (03 Mar 2012, 21:28)
    Reply

    He ‘virtually disowned this work’?? Insane! This album and Souvenirs were definitely his best. The music from those albums holds up very well after all these years. IMHO he gradually lost his creative spark after that…

  10. Andy (04 Mar 2012, 7:36)
    Reply

    Yes, this was a classic album that displayed Fogelberg’s raw talent. He may have “disowned” it in the 90s, but remember Dan also did an album in 2003 called Full Circle, where he returned to his roots. He may have never recaptured the magic of Home Free, but his gifts continued to shine through throughout his career.



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