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Entertainment Tonight Online December 3, 1999

The "Leader Of The Band" makes a holiday comeback with his first Christmas album. ET Online catches up with legendary DAN FOGELBERG and finds out the secrets behind the making of this magical album -- as well as his plans for the New Year! What should you expect from his new album? Dan Fogelberg shares all! Entertainment Tonight Online: Congratulations on your first Christmas album, The First Christmas Morning! When did you decide to put this holiday collection together?
Dan Fogelberg: I had actually written Christmas music for about 12 years. The first song that I wrote for it is actually the title song, "First Christmas Morning." I wrote that back in 1987. And so over the years, usually around Christmas time, I would end up writing another carol or another piece of music. So eventually by the end of the '90s, I had a lot of these pieces, about seven pieces of original Christmas music. So I just started messing around with them and playing with them in my studio, and then it took off.

ETO: Can you give us an idea of what to expect when we hear this album?

Dan: Well I don't think this is your standard Christmas album. It seems that most pop artists do your typical songs in the typical pop arrangements. This is a classical Christmas album that consists of Renaissance, Medieval and Baroque music. Half of it, seven of those tracks, were written by me in those old song forms, so this really has an ancient feel to it. This is the type of Christmas music that I love. I also love contemporary Christmas music as well, but the music that is the most meaningful to me is the old music. I think that carries the beauty of Christmas tradition the best.

ETO: What influenced your choice for those time periods?

Dan: I've always been a big fan of classical music. My parents were both classical musicians, so I've been raised with classical music all my life. And I love it. This particular era of music --Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval music -- were what I knew of and had listened to a lot. So it wasn't much of a stretch. I think the biggest influence was just listening to the old, old Christmas music and saying, "How do I adapt music from three or four centuries ago to my own song writing?" So the songs that I had written were written in that old style.

ETO: Care to share your favorite Christmas memory?

Dan: Oh, boy. Christmas was really important to my family and me growing up in Illinois. I grew up in a small town in Illinois. Christmas was our favorite time of year. So we had a lot of great Christmas memories. I remember particularly this one year -- perhaps 10 to 15 years ago -- when my two brothers and I were grown up. It was probably the last Christmas that we had when my father was still alive and the whole family was still together. We three boys were home and boys being boys, we went out to play football. So we went out to the backyard and the first pass I made to my brother went right past him and through the living room window. It hit the tree and broke the ornaments and stuff. I remember my father sticking his head out the window, just as mad as could be. And then he realized, "Wait a minute, these aren't my boys anymore. These are grown men -- I can't do anything!" It was very funny, because it was like a flashback to when we were little boys and suddenly we were all grown people. He couldn't do anything about it.

ETO: Back to your Christmas album, were there any other songs that you wanted to include that didn't make it into this album?

Dan: Yes. I had to actually take a couple songs out at the last minute and put one in. I was working on this right up to the very last minute, substituting things. The thing about a Christmas record is that there are so many great melodies once you start researching it. I actually had an acapella piece that I had pulled off at the last minute. I had actually done "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman." I remember I did an instrumental version of that with a sitar and Indian instruments. (laughs) I got through it and was playing it for a few friends and thought, "Okay, this is getting a little too weird." I did that early on, thinking it would take a world influence with some Arabian music and maybe some Indian music. But then over a course of a year, I really centered it on Renaissance music. That song didn't quite fit in anymore. Actually, "What Child Is This?" the classic "Greensleeves" melody, I had finished in the last week and put it on. The thing about Christmas music is that there are so many that I could have gone on and on. At some point you've got to go, "I've only got 74 minutes here!" (laughs)

ETO: Maybe next year?

Dan: (laughs) Maybe there'll be another! If this one is successful, I'd definitely consider another one in the future.

ETO: What is your favorite from this album?

Dan: Oh, they're all favorites in different ways. I really like the instrumental "Snowfall." It's a very beautiful piece and it's very evocative of winter. As far as the old ancient pieces, I really like "In The Bleak Midwinter" and "This Endris Night." They're very beautiful and they're very sparse. It's just me and the guitar and a guy named HUGH MARSH playing violin. He plays for LOREENA McKENNITT. He played beautifully on this. He's a great violinist.

ETO: Now where do you plan to celebrate the new Millennium? Will you be making any performances?

Dan: Performances? No. I'll be at home, with my sweetheart and my cat and some good friends, and we'll be in front of the fire with some great wine and a good meal. I can't think of anywhere else in the world I'd rather be.

ETO: Of all your music, what is the one album or song that you'd want people to remember you for?

Dan: I think the strongest work I've ever did was The Innocent Age, which is a double album put out in 1981. That had some of the best work I've ever done, and it was from a remarkably creative time in my life. It had "Same Old Lang Syne," which is my very favorite song which I had written, "Leader Of The Band," and "Run For The Roses," which were all on that album. If I were looking for one thing that people can ask, "What is he about?" I think that would say it, because it was such an enormous variety of music.

ETO: What can we look forward to next from you?

Dan: I'm in the studio right now, working on some live things, two different live projects. One is a bunch of band performances from my various bands in the '90s. Just sorting through that and finding some interesting performances. And I'm also editing a live solo acoustic record. So I don't know which one will see the light of day first. I plan to spend the winter editing and putting all that together. I've got about 60-80 shows to sift through.

ETO: That's great! Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?

Dan: Oh, I just hope they like the Christmas record! I loved making it and I'm so proud of it. I just hope that it will add to people's holidays!

-- December 3, 1999 TM & Copyright © 1996-1999 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.