♫ Leader of the Band ♫ (Redux)

Admittedly, tonight my psyche seems not to be in music mode … a rarity, indeed!  So, I dug back through the archives to see what I could find, and this one popped up.  I played this only once, a few years ago, so a redux doesn’t seem too out of order.  Interestingly, this one doesn’t seem to have charted outside the U.S., though I recently discovered that Wikipedia isn’t always accurate on that.  Still, the backstory makes it worth a listen, at the very least.


I never know quite why songs pop into my head, do you?  But I do know that once they get in there, they sometimes last for only a fleeting moment, but other times they stick around for days.  As a general rule, I only know a few lines of the lyrics, so my kitchen-singing, when it happens, is repetitious, to say the least.  The girls wear headphones, and since if I am singing it means I am (relatively) happy, they tolerate it.  Singing is a stretch … warbling might be a better word for it.  Anyway … I digress.  This song popped into my head yesterday and I haven’t been able to exorcise it since, so it must be tonight’s song, yes?  In sharing it with you, it invades your ears and leaves my head …

Dan Fogelberg both wrote and sang this one.  The song was written as a tribute to his father, Lawrence Fogelberg, a musician and the leader of a band, who was still alive at the time the song was released.  He would die in 1982, the year after the song’s release, but not before the song made him a celebrity with numerous media interviews interested in him as its inspiration.

The line, “Thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go,” is a reference to Fogelberg dropping out of college. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, but decided to leave in the middle of a semester to pursue music – not what most parents want to hear. Fogelberg’s father was disappointed, but supported his son’s decision, telling Dan to try it for a year. The music thing worked out well: Dan drove to Los Angeles, got a record deal, and became one of the top-selling solo artists of the ’70s.

Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, has performed a version of the song as a tribute to her late father.

And now, ladies and gentlemen … I give you … Dan Fogelberg …

Leader of the Band / Washington Post March
Dan Fogelberg

An only child alone and wild, a cabinet maker’s son
His hands were meant for different work
And his heart was known to none
He left his home and went his lone and solitary way
And he gave to me a gift I know I never can repay

A quiet man of music denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once, but his music wouldn’t wait
He earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band

My brother’s lives were different for they heard another call
One went to Chicago and the other to St Paul
And I’m in Colorado when I’m not in some hotel
Living out this life I’ve chose and come to know so well

I thank you for the music and your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And papa, I don’t think I said I love you near enough

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band
I am a living legacy to the leader of the band

Songwriters: Dan Fogelberg
Leader of the Band / Washington Post March lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

18 thoughts on “♫ Leader of the Band ♫ (Redux)

  1. I know next to nothing about him, as I don’t think he ever had any chart hits here, or any airplay that I heard. The only song of his I knew before this was Same Old Lang Syne, but this is beautiful. I’ve added his ‘Essential’ album to my Apple Music library, to find out more. Thanks for sharing this.

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