Certain songs and lyrics mean more at different times in your life, right? These days I’ve been thinking about Dan Fogelberg’s Part of the Plan and wanted to shoot out a quick blog to share the lyrics because they might speak to you too in these difficult pandemic times (and difficult times all around).
Dan Fogelberg, in case you’re not familiar, was, to me, a beautifully lyrical, meaningful singer songwriter with an ethereal voice and poetic soul. He tragically died in 2007 from cancer. He was only 56. But in the three decades or so before that, he turned out so many gorgeous ballads, from Longer, which became a popular wedding dance song, to Leader of the Band, a heartfelt tribute to his music mentor dad, to Same Old Lang Syne, a somewhat heart-wrenching tale of love lost. I even loved Run for the Roses, about the magnificent energy of race horses.
In the category of “I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but …” I ironically have all kinds of very specific remembrances around Dan Fogelberg (as I guess a lot of us do around music and musicians who move us).
For example, I first saw him perform with his band at Sienna College in upstate New York when my boyfriend/now husband Jim and I were going to nearby SUNY Albany. I clearly remember sitting near the back of the fairly small auditorium with my suite mate/now long-time friend Linda and her boyfriend at the time. I remember having a wonderful time and starting to feel closer to Jim as he introduced me to other great music, like the band Genesis. That was back in 1979 or 80.
Truth be told, though, I did get to know Dan Fogelberg a few years prior to that. In an even funnier example of “I can’t believe I remember that when I can’t remember _________ [your most recent activity here],” I was at Paula Schuster’s house in Dix Hills when she played me his recently released Souvenirs album, which contained the hit single, Part of the Plan, in about 1974. Even more randomly, I remember that Paula went to school with Ralph Macchio (from Karate Kid movie fame), that her father Artie drove a bright emerald green Cadillac I loved the looks of, and that her mom Renee, secretary at the school my mom taught at, was a perennial dieter who used to often famously eat M&Ms in exchange for meals. (She was thin as a rail too!) If you knew how bad my memory is for things that actually matter!!!
Anyway, I later went with mom to see Dan Fogelberg again – this time performing solo – playing piano and guitar in a small venue with a signature rotating round stage. The place was known then as the Westbury Music Fair (subsequently changing to all kinds of different bank names but still standing and often featuring retro-music). It’s where I walked down the aisles to graduate from high school too and next door to the (no-longer-existing) Tivoli Terrace where Jim and I walked down the aisle to get married.
The performance – in November 1991 – was intimate and beautiful. Plus we got to sit in the third row, getting the tickets from a friend of my mom’s who had season tickets at the theater but didn’t know ‘who this Dan Fogelberg was.’ (It’s how we also got to see another musical hero of mine, from the same great seats, Smokey Robinson, who I also dragged mom along to see, though she really liked both shows.) Just as an aside, I’ve gotten to see everyone from Neil Sedaka to Lyle Lovett, to John Hiatt and Ben Vereen over the years at that great little theater.
Well, I guess this blog wasn’t as short or quick as I thought it would be because I just love to share the little stories behind the music. But I hope you enjoy the lyrics (partially recounted below) and the song, Part of the Plan. (Click on this link to hear the original studio version.) Till next time, stay safe and well …
I have these moments
All steady and strong
I’m feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know
I’m all worried and weak
And I feel myself starting to crumble
The meanings get lost
And the teachings get tossed
And you don’t know what
You’re going to do next
You wait for the sun
But it never quite comes
Some kind of message
Comes through to you
Some kind of message comes through
And it says to you. . .
Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand
There is no Eden or
That you’re gonna make it to one day
But all of the answers you seek
Can be found
In the dreams that you dream on the way