"Leader of the Band" as written by and 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



Lyrics submitted by Ara Raven

"Leader of the Band" as written by Dan Fogelberg

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Leader of the Band song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentDan also said the one of the hilights of his life was getting the opportunity to perform the song for his father before he passed away.
    lobo81865on July 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy dad was a musician and I don't know any details but my parents were divorced when I was a toddler. I only saw him 2 times that I remember. I wish I could say to him that life goes on, but I miss knowing him. The funny thing is that this song fits different parts of my life so much and I seem to be the culminating point. I didn't know my dad's dad at all. My grandfather on my mother's side did carpentry as a useful hobby and I am sure during the depression for money. My great-grandfather built his wife a house with his own hands. I drew the plans for a log home and my family built it with our own hands and I live there now. My dad was in the Army before going on the road with his music. My grandfather with his brothers used to sit on the porch and sing and play the ukelele. I put a huge front porch on the front of my home so they could sit here and play if they want to. I was given the instrument of voice from my dad and my mom, but I can't get through the first line of this song. What a tribute to a dad, I hope that I have made my family proud, as they have made me so very proud of them.
    trailguide15on November 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEveryone sings about their mothers. But if I ever write a song, it will be about my father. Not that he was any less influential than my mother, or even that he deserves it less, but I often feel that my dreams are similar to the ones he never attained. If I ever acheive them myself my most intense hope will be that he understands that it's just as much his accomplishment.

    It's the father's role to try and make his son better than him. It is the rare instance that both father and son agree that, despite different choices and opinions, this has happened. And when the son "makes it," the contentment the father feels must be amazing. This is a song about making it, and trying hard to tell Dad that it is his acheivement just as much as yours.
    ballzofsnoon April 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about a mand who followed in his fathers footsteps. Its a great song, my father used to play it for me. I think it is really sweet :)
    OzzyGurlyon March 25, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou are right on ballzofsno. Dan is saying that he is who he is because of his father's influence
    liverdudeon June 27, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of the best songs about fathers anywhere. it always just melts my heart reminds me of my dad when i hear it.
    poohblueskyon July 02, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe part of this song that strikes me the most is one of the last parts of the song, "and papa I don't think I said I love you near enough". It strikes a definate cord with me personally because I know from personal experience what it is like being close to a family member and all of the sudden getting the news that they have passed on. I picked that line from the song specifically becuase it speaks to anyone who has had a lfamily or loved one die and retrospectively feel that they have come short, even if it is only a perception, of showing the true extent of the love and affection that they had for the person.
    D-Shizniton December 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIm not sure who I think of when I hear this song. But I love it. This is such a beautiful song, but it is so simple. It is about a guy and his true love- his music. I guess I think of my dad. He has introduced me to so many types of music that I've fallen in love with. For instance, the Beatles, Dan Fogelberg, and so many other types of great classic rock. And sometimes I dont think I appreciate my dad enough. I think this is great song. I guess ive said that before though.
    mongoosestalkeron March 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow, mongoosesstalker, that's really sweet. Now that I thought of it, I agree with you. I always appreciate my dad because he provides us with everything. But I never acknowledge him when he influenced me with his music. And we both love The Beatles. :) I don't know what I'd do without The Beatles. They're my passion, and if it wasn't for my dad and his support, I would never have loved REAL music.

    Oh yeah, I got goosebumps on this. Especially in the line "a cabinet maker's son". This might not mean a lot to you, but this means a lot to me for my grandfather was a carpenter. And so my father is 'a cabinet maker's son'.

    Oh yeah, is this song based in reality? Did Dan sang this for his dad?
    handsdown4dbeatleson August 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDan has said that he wrote the song to thank his dad for his influence on his life, and for his support when Dan wanted to quit college, and try the music business full time.
    lobo81865on July 26, 2007   Link

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