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Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 46

No worries, everybody: I may slow down, but I can’t quit the Mellow.

Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg – The Power Of Gold (download)

(A word before I start:  I am aware that Dan Fogelberg has cancer.   Last year during Mellowmas, a Fogelberg fan (Fogelfan?) gave Jeff and I some shit for ripping on "Same Old Lang Syne" simply on the basis that he was sick.  It goes without saying that I wouldn’t wish any kind of cancer on anyone, and I wish him all the best as he continues his path towards recovery.  That being said, I’m sure Dan – or any artist – would not expect their music to be treated (or reviewed) any differently because of this.   And therefore, I see no problem with tackling "The Power Of Gold."  If you do, by all means, stop here.)

I first came across "The Power Of Gold" earlier this year when Jeff Ash – he of the fantastic AM, Then FM blog – recommended another song from the same album, Twin Sons Of Different Mothers.  (I’ll get to that song too at some point, Jeff, but fer cryin’ out loud, it’s seven minutes long.)  Twin Sons Of Different Mothers was the first of two collaborative projects between Fogelberg and falutist flutetits flutist flute player Tim Weisberg.  I’m guessing the two ‘bergs met at synagogue.

"Daaaaaan!  I told you I was going to wear this hairstyle to the photo shoot!"

Yes, the two of them look slightly similar, and both look like they’re mere moments away from going into hibernation for the winter.  The ‘bergs must have known this, as their ’95 reunion featured a disturbing lack of facial hair and a defensive title:

But enough about the smooth-faced ‘bergs:  today we’re talking about their hairy 1978 album, the one which perfectly represents the way two white guys would translate the term "brothers from another mother."  A bit of history, first:  it’s interesting to note that at this point in his career, Dan Fogelberg was a massive success, based not on any particular song but on an entire album.  (Imagine that.)  His second release, 1975’s Souvenirs, featured one (and at this point, his only) hit: "Part Of The Plan," which included backing vocals by Joe Walsh and Graham Nash, and peaked at #31.  However, Souvenirs managed to reach #17, and went on to sell over forty million copies.  (Wait a minute – sorry, that was Thriller.  Two million.  My bad.)  With that many copies sold, I suppose you could say that Dan Fogelberg truly, truly knew (wait for it)…the power of gold.

(This is what happens when I take more than two weeks off.)

But it’s true: anything Fogelberg touched turned to gold…fool’s gold, you might say.  (What is wrong with me?)  Fool’s Gold was Fogelberg’s backing band, and even they were able to release an album.  (By the way, vocalist for Fool’s Gold?  Tom Kelly, CHART ATTACK’s favorite songwriter!)   The point I’m feebly attempting to make is that the man was on a roll.  I mean, even when Fogelberg decided to ignore his current success and head towards a potentially career-damaging move, he couldn’t fail. 

See, Fogelberg knew Weisberg from his previous album, Nether Lands – the two had collaborated on the song "Give Me Some Time" – and Fogelberg suggested the two of them record an album entirely composed of instrumentals.  They almost succeeded: seven out of ten songs were instrumentals, and "The Power Of Gold" was actually a last-minute addition after they realized that their grand finale song, recorded with a full orchestra, featured an out-of-tune piano.  Fogelberg quickly whipped up the song, released the album, and fled the country, uninterested in hearing the critics rip apart his instrumental jaunt.  But as I said: much like Parker Lewis but inexplicably wussier, Dan Fogelberg couldn’t lose.  Twin Sons Of Different Mothers reached #8 and sold a million copies, with "The Power Of Gold" peaking at an impressive #24. 

I was but a year old when this song hit the charts, but I imagine the reaction was "wow, Dan’s really rockin’ this one!"  Which is not to say that he was, in fact, "rockin’ this one."  In Fogelberg standards, however, this was some pretty heavy shit.  I’m not saying that all his other stuff was chock full o’ wuss, but…well, yes, I guess I am.  In fact, I don’t know if you know this, but when someone (Jeff) is being a pussy, I now call them (him) a Fogelberg.  Still, how do you think this conversation went down?

Dan:  Tim, I think this song could be our opportunity to really rock out.
Tim:  Dan, I play the flute.

That being said, "The Power Of Gold" features less flute than any other song on the album.  There may be some light flute (y’know, as opposed to heavy flute) over the main riff of the song, but it’s obscured by those bad-ass (not true) electric guitars.  I imagine that Fogelberg and Fool’s Gold began recording the song, and invited Weisberg to jump in whenever he felt comfortable.  Weisberg, however, just sat there, looking slightly lost, and eventually began reading the classifieds until Fogelberg poked him in the back with the end of his acoustic guitar.  ("Hey, I’m paying you by the hour here.") 

So what else does "The Power Of Gold" have going for it?  Well, don’t look to the lyrics, that’s for sure.  In fact, I bet you can’t even make out most of the lyrics; they’re buried in the mix.  My guess is that Fogelberg had the line "are you under the power of gold?" and simply worked backwards from there, finding words that rhymed with "gold" (using "sold" and "cold" but, sadly, not "mold," "resoled" or "cuckold").  I seriously have no idea what the hell he’s talking about.  Let me look up some of the lyrics.

The story is told of the power of gold and its lure on the unsuspecting
It glitters and shines, it badgers and blinds
And constantly needs protecting
Balance the cost of the soul you lost with the dreams you lightly sold
Are you under…the power of gold

Oh, wait!  Guys!  I get it!  He’s talking about THE MUSIC INDUSTRY!  Either that or he’s after me lucky charms!

Okay, so maybe there’s some real meaning in the lyrics.  How about the music?  Well, it’s definitely on the heavier end of mellow, but the drums are still weak, and there’s way too much piano – especially that run down the keys occurring right before "the power of gold" on every chorus.  Everyone knows that runs down the piano keys are supposed to occur spontaneously in a moment of passion.  For shame, Dan!

However, the thing you’re most likely to remember about "The Power Of Gold" will be the excellent (and high) harmony line over Dan’s lead vocal.  That’s good ol’ Don Henley, providing some of his trademark, "Witchy Woman"-esque falsetto.  (Fogelberg was managed by Irving Azoff, who also managed The Eagles.)

Despite the odds, "The Power Of Gold" does manage to toe the line between rock and wuss-music, and therefore is a worthy addition to your shameful Mellow Gold collection.  And as you all know, some of Dan’s mellowest hits were still to come.  (Note: any of you hijack this post and turn it into a rip on "Longer," I will personally hunt you down and punch you in the mouth.  I love that song – especially the flugelhorn – to the point of tearful irrationality.)  And after listening to "The Power Of Gold" and a few other Fogelberg tunes over the past few days, I think I’m actually becoming a fan.  I suppose I’m under the power of…okay, I’ll stop.

See you next time for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

  • Hey, that’s a kick-ass guitar solo! Sort of. But the two things I remember most about Dan Fogelberg are that a Bloom County character had a tattoo of his face and that I played guitar for our chorus’ rendition of "Longer" at a school assembly. Didn’t help me get any dates. Not even with the sophomore in chorus who knew I had a big crush on her.

  • David

    David: Yaaaayyyy, Jason’s back!
    Jason: Dan, I play the flute.

  • 360sound

    I always thought that The Power Of Gold was probably about the Eagles, or  it could be about Azoff himself. The two were apparently good friends in college, and Azoff was certainly a rising star at that point. But, this track kicks wuss ass, for sure. Between this, Kenny Loggin’s scorching "Nightwatch" from the same year, and the debut from Toto, MG was clearly being affected by the sounds of London ’77, no?

  • Jason, it’s "Witchay Woman."  Didn’t you watch Seinfeld?

  • Rich

    Beau, I think you’re talking about Lola Granola and Dan "Fogelburp"!!!

  • Dw Dunphy

    Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity at work: Dan Fogelberg’s "Power Of Gold" next to… oh, Metallica’s "Master Of Puppets". Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy. Dan Fogelberg’s "Power Of Gold" next to… uh… Dan Fogelberg’s "Leader Of The Band". HEFTY, HEFTY, HEFTY. Makes ya wanna throw up some devil horns and do weird shaky-tongue things.  DwD

  • Dw Dunphy

    I just bowled with someone who’s old, cold and smells like mold.

  • Rich — As EBN or possibly OZN once said, Lola … Lola … Lola.

  • Grumpies

    I don’t know, I actually kind of like this whole album, even though I can’t stand most of Dan Fogelberg’s stuff.

  • I wonder why Dan didn’t say: "Yeah, you play the flute, but c’mon so does Ian Anderson.  Let’s Jethro Tull this muthafucker!"

  • Flute solos only work in R&B songs from this era. C’mon, everybody knows that!

    Jason, remind me to send you (yes, the burden is on YOU) Babyface’s version of “Longer.” It’s on his new album of (mostly) covers along with his versions of Bread’s “Diary,” James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” and “Shower the People,” Dave Loggins’s “Please Come to Boston,” and several other soft-rock classics. Apparently Babyface grew up listening to these songs and still loves them, but I’m guessing he also grew up with the Isley Brothers’ versions of James Taylor and Carole King songs.

    Or maybe it’s that Babyface wrote, produced, and performed ’80s and ’90s R&B better than most but what he REALLY wanted was to be the next Dan Fogelberg. Being part of Eric Clapton’s AC monster “Change the World” in ’96 must’ve been a personal high point for him.

  • Ross51

    ROTFLOL!!! Ahhh…sheeeeesh…thanks for not keeping your twisted sense of humor all to yourself, Jason!  :D  I must be a Folgelberg fan, because I know all the words to ‘Run For The Roses’ and ‘Same Old Lang Syne’.  I can’t remember where I just set my coffe cup down…but I remember the lyrics to those Folgelberg tunes.  Perhaps The Power of Gold has something to do with  mind control?  LOL  Hey, his ‘Beggar’s Game’ song is rather spell-binding. ;)
    Thanks for the Mellow Gold fix!  

  • I forgot to mention that even though I don’t like “Longer,” I can’t get enough of Fogelberg’s “Heart Hotels.”

  • You know Dan Fogelberg was the first (and apparently last) winner of the Rock Music Award for Best New Artist, in 1975? I remember being a little irked that someone won Best New Artist when I’d reviewed his first album for my high school paper a few years previous.
    The Rock Music Awards were Don Kirshner’s idea for a TV special. "The Best of My Love" won Best Song. You know that joint was rockin’.

  • I wonder how many Best New Artists, especially at the Grammys, have actually been around for only a year or so when they’ve won. Shelby Lynne’s a ridiculous example of winning in 2000 or 2001 even though she’d been making albums since 1989.

    “The Power of Gold” sounds a bit like Stephen Bishop’s “China Syndrome” theme, “Somewhere In Between.”

  • Dw Dunphy

    Robert, like NBC used to say, if you ain’t heard it, it’s new to you! (Freakin’ Universal tools!)

  • Dw Dunphy

    Why does Weisberg look so pissed off anyway?

  • Deiter

    For those who Remember, Fogelberg had a big(ger) hit just prior to “Gold” with “Longer Than.” (What could be wussier than title ending in a preposition?) For my money, “Longer Than” was the far wussier of the two. (Guess what? The singer has been in love “longer than…”, fill in your favorite crusty cliche here.) Maybe you might consider throwing that little nugget up to the teeming Mellow Goldites. Fogelberg was adorable though, wasn’t he?

  • That Guy

    Umm, I hate to be “That Guy,” but the actual title of the song is “Longer,” and it came out two years after “The Power of Gold.”

    But yeah, as far as cliches go, the song was a whole BOX of Hallmark cards. Pretty tune, though.

  • Dw Dunphy

    Longer than… Tommy Lee?

  • Wolfcreek

    Most folks who criticize Fogelberg’s music seem to only be familiar with the few songs that got radio play. But then the same is likely true for many who say they love it and rate “Longer” as their favorite song of all time. I’m sure you know that music execs who make those decisions always go for what they think will have mass appeal. In Dan’s case, those radio hits were not representative of the bulk of his music, in my opinion.

    I don’t know how familiar you are with the rest of Dan’s music, but if you’ve only heard the “hits” and the Weisberg collaborations, you should try listening to his other albums.

    By the way, Dan is not Jewish, so your remark about meeting at synagogue is pretty silly.

  • Actually, since this post, I’ve acquired the box set and am making my way through it.

    As for the synagogue comment, it was a joke. And the whole post is silly.

  • Ray

    Longer than… there’ve been fishes in the ocean,

    Softer than… Liberace at the Playboy Mansion…

  • Fogelberg has since died from his battle with Cancer, your take on it was funny, but so full of mistakes that I almost spewed coffee on my keyboard. Dan wrote Power of Gold as an after thought for the Twin Sons Recording because he found out after already recording with an orchestra, that the piano wasn’t tuned to the correct octave which made it more costly to redo, than to just quick throw a song together “Power of Gold” than to pay for all the studio time and musicians it would have taken to complete the song again. (some artists are gifted enough to throw a tune together in a single night and have it become an album favorite, shocking as that may seem.) I know its not done in this day and age where very few people even write their own material.

    Go to You Tube and check out “The Nature of the Game” which Dan never recorded, if you wanna hear the real Dan Fogelberg not the sappy crap that allowed him to sit back and actually create music for people that liked blues, jazz, and singer/songwriter material. he has a new album coming out entitled “Love in Time” its being mixed right now in Surround Sound and the picture is being decided on as we type this.

    Sadly if you never witnessed Fogelberg on a Solo Accoustic Tour, you missed witnessing greatness on a scale I defy you to show me from even the likes many in the industry. He was doin’ “Unplugged” before MTV hit the airwaves, and did it better than any musician in the business. Solo 3 Guitars and a Piano, he switched between the instruments and was the only person besides his guitar tech that touched that stage during the whole show. There were no players hiding in the wings filling in anything, it was Only Fogelberg. You can count the number of artists that can give a Tour of nothing but Solo with their own Material they wrote, on 1 and a half hands.