…my life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man

Although it is accompanied by far fewer greeting cards and phone calls than it’s counterpart, Mother’s Day (which has been observed for well over a full century), Father’s Day is now celebrated on this, the third Sunday in June, in numerous countries throughout the world.

In the United States the driving force behind its recognition was Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, whose Civil War veteran father had raised six children as a single parent.  Because of Dodd’s incessant campaigning, the first Father’s Day was commemorated in Spokane in 1910.

In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson traveled to Spokane and proposed that Father’s Day become a national holiday, but Congress was opposed to the idea.  In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge made a similar proposal and he too was rebuffed by Congress.  Actually it wasn’t until 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson issued a presidential proclamation to honor fathers, that this day was designated as Father’s Day, and it wan’t until 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed it into law, that it actually became a permanent national holiday.

Today’s selection was written and performed by Dan Fogelberg, less than a decade after that presidential signing, to honor his own father, Lawrence, who’d long served as director of Peoria’s Woodruff High School Band and who died soon after its release.  Featured on his 1981 (and seventh) album, “The Innocent Age,” which itself was inspired by Thomas Wolfe’s 1935 poignant novel “Of Time and The River,” the song was Fogelberg’s second single (after “Longer”) to reach Number One the U.S. Billboard Charts.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Father’s Day 17 June

The Leader of the Band

An only child alone and wild

A cabinetmaker’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 brothers’ 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 the living legacy

To the leader of the band

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s