He had a musical gift that touched many

Common GroundBill KightGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Sometimes an artist touches us, perhaps arousing a kindred spirit from deep within, sharing a feeling we thought was our own private emotion. And for a brief moment we come full circle to what it is to be human.Then we go on our way with our lives. Forgetting. That’s human, too.I had forgotten how the music affected me, not hearing it much these days.

Then the song played on the radio while heading home, “Same Old Lang Syne” from the ’80s. It was a tribute to Dan Fogelberg who had died at his home in Maine from prostate cancer. He was only 56.It hit me hard. Instantly the thought came, “That could have been me. Why did he die of prostate cancer? Why am I a survivor from the same cancer?”Getting out of the car and going into the house, a great burden lay heavy on my heart. Those same feelings from years ago that he had stirred within me while listening to his music were back.My thoughts raced to a couple of years ago when I was fire information officer on a fire near Pagosa Springs.My job was to visit people living in the woods and backcountry close to the fire we were managing. I gave handouts to the folks who were home and talked with them if they had any questions.It’s right up my alley. I enjoy meeting people.

While out and about, I stopped at the road to Dan Fogelberg’s ranch and turned off the key. It took only a minute to make the decision not to go further.Someone who knew had told me he was not well, was sick. Not wanting to disturb him, I headed back to the Incident Command Post in my Jeep.No one told me it was prostate cancer, or I may have decided to visit him and to try and offer encouragement, though his disease was terminal by the time it was discovered.Chances are he may not have been on his ranch anyway. I’ve been told that what time he had left was spent at his home in Maine with his family.It wasn’t about being part of the sick cult our nation suffers from, worshiping at the altar of fame. It wasn’t about getting an autograph, or being able to tell people I met Dan Fogelberg. It was about respecting the privacy of someone who had reached “me” through his songs.The legacy of his words is enough. To know someone had felt similar emotions and made those feelings into songs. What a gift.

The album has stopped playing on the turntable as I write in silence, interrupted only by the wood popping in the old stove.I’m at a loss for words as I read the lyrics of Dan’s songs.”Pecos Mountains in the fading light … She wraps the foggy night around her like a warming shawl … His song is in my soul … “And best of all … “I thank you for the music.”With almost 30 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight of Glenwood Springs shares his stories with readers every other week.

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