I have a pair of Dan Fogelberg singles. They aren’t mine. They’re my brother’s.
When I moved to Austin in 1997, I took all the 7-inch singles in the house with me. Most of them were mine anyway, but a smattering were divided unevenly between my siblings. We collected them when we were kids, but then CDs eventually replaced vinyl. So no one was using the old turntable anymore. (It was busted anyway.)
Among those singles were two big Dan Fogelberg hits — "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne". I thought they were all right when I was a kid, but by the time I reached high school, they struck me as overly sentimental and way, way too commercial. (Burgeoning post-punk kid and all that.)
And yet, the news of Fogelberg’s passing caught me off-guard. I hadn’t thought about Fogelberg in years — maybe the last time was when I was sifting through those 7-inch singles — so to hear that news instantly transported me to that time and place when I couldn’t avoid his music. Namely, in my brother’s car with his mixed tape of slow songs on repeat. The driver always determined the playlist. You can imagine how taxing my turn behind the wheel must have been.
It’s not the same reaction as the news of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s death. Honestly, I’ve heard of Stockhausen but not from him. And for some reason, I keep getting him confused with Edgard Varèse. I don’t have a time or a place I can associate with Stockhausen’s music, although his name conjures up the feeling of exam time during college.
Tastewise, I’ll probably seek out Stockhausen’s music and leave the Fogelberg singles in storage. Stockhausen was, to me, this nebulous idea of a person, and my reaction to his passing is essentially intellectual. Fogelberg, on the other hand, was an ubiquitous presence in my youth, and his death makes that youth feel much more distant.