A serial memoir by Jean Fogelberg

"Full Circle" ~ Song by Song


An excerpt from the 2003 interview  "The Artist Embraces the Past as a Guide to the Future" by Rex Rutkowski

1. Half Moon Bay

"It's just a place in my mind, a nice title, just a name that came into my head one night. I wanted it to feel kind of oceanic. I just felt it was kind of a little instrumental signature piece with strings I wanted to revisit, like the opening of 'Twin Sons (Of Different Mothers),' 'Captured Angel,' and 'Innocent Age.'

It's separate from 'When You're Not Near Me' (the second track), but I wrote it intentionally knowing it would go into the second track, so I wrote it so that it would end in the same key.

The sequencing of this album was important to me. When you work on something as long as this it changes obviously. It is one of the reasons it didn't come out last year (2002). Something wasn't quite right. It had a different sequence. This winter when I was in Hawaii, for some reason it dawned on me to change the sequencing. When I came home I was ready to do that. It flowed better. 'Once In Love' was so strong I didn't want to bury it.

Everybody who heard it said 'That's the radio tune.' I said, 'OK, great, then I should move it up.' Elliot Scheiner, who has won Grammys working with the Eagles and Steely Dan, mixed the album. He's one of the best and is the reason the album sounds so good."

(In almost 40 years as a popular music engineer, producer and mixer, Scheiner, in addition to the Eagles and Steely Dan, has worked on projects by Van Morrison, Sting, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Fleetwood Mac and others. He has won Grammy Awards for "Best Engineered Recording" twice, and received nearly 20 nominations.)

2. When You're Not Near Me 

(Sample lyric: 'When you're not near me, there is no laughter in my spirit.' )

"I don't want to say 'This is about this person or that person'. The songs on this album span such a long period of time they probably are about a half dozen different relationships. More than these songs being about anyone, for the most part I hope they are appreciated by the listener as part of their life so it becomes a more personal experience for them, rather than 'Oh, who did he write that about?' or 'What's going on in his life?' But I want these songs to still reflect emotion and sentiment that should be valid to anyone involved in a mature, romantic situation. Most of them are very hopeful. 'Drawing Pictures' (track 9) is sad, but I wrote it when I was 21. For the most part, the songs are very hopeful about the nature of relationships.

'When You're Not Near Me' feels like a George Harrison kind of Beatles thing to me, though nobody else may get that. A lot of songs reflect my earliest influences, like (The Byrds') Gene Clark ('Full Circle'). That was conscious, my doing as a producer."

3. Full Circle

(Sample lyric: ' You think you're lost, and then you're found again…Each time around there's something new again.' )

"That song first appeared on the Byrds reunion album in '73. That song has always touched me. It's one of my favorite tunes. It's not well known. It's not (the Byrds') 'Turn, Turn, Turn' or 'Tambourine Man.' It's one of the more obscure songs of the Byrds but I thought it had such a great thing happening in the vocals especially. The verse was written in one key and the chorus steps up to the subdominant. It's so uplifting and I like what that song says. It's a great philosophical song about living through life and all it has to show you because it's gonna keep coming around. "

4. Reason To Run

(Sample lyric: 'How could anything that felt so right, at the same time feel so wrong?…For every reason to stay, I find a reason to run.' )

"Usually in people's lives you have people that leave and people who are left. They are patterns repeated in many people's lives for whatever reason. This really is a song about that impulse, not about me. It's about someone I knew getting into relationships and when it got time to get serious and committed they would consciously leave and go to another partner until it got to the same point.

Musically, I think there is kind of a Buffalo Springfield/Crazy Horse feel, like the 60’s Southern California thing. I used my old Gretsch (guitar) all over this record. I hadn’t done that in a long time."

5. Once In Love 

(Sample lyric: ' Once In love, you'll always be a lover. Once is all it takes….You'll give your heart up to another even if it breaks.' )

"The song was written in 1982 when I was in the middle of doing 'Innocent Age,' or just after it, which is the reason it feels very similar to that period. It's advice to the lovelorn (he laughs). A friend of mine's little sister was in college and had just gotten her heart broken for the first time. She is asking me, like I'm some great sage (he laughs again), 'What the hell is this about?' I told her 'I know it hurts now, but you will get over it and be fine.' This was written for anybody who gets hurt and it doesn't work out like they expected, which probably is most people.

It's done with doubled acoustic guitars. I initially was going to do a single vocal without harmonies, but it was screaming for those other two parts."

6. Whispers In The Wind

(Sample lyric: ' She wraps the foggy night around her like a warming shawl…All she leaves behind to find her in the dawn are whispers in the wind.' )

"It was written for a lady, probably in '85. It was a very brief, very romantic situation. The nature of that relationship felt to me like an old Gordon Lightfoot song like 'Softly She Comes.' Gordon wrote a lot of that stuff: great, mysterious, women would show up in the middle of the night and disappear. Lightfoot is one of my greatest influences. I admire his songwriting. I said 'I ought to write a song that sounds like Gordon Lightfoot.' Melodically and lyrically this is a tribute to Lightfoot."

7. This Heart

(Sample lyric: ' I believe for every wayward soul, crying out for its completion, there's another that will make it whole just waiting to be found.' )

"It's a very positive song. I wrote it for my wife Jeanie. People should be able to go on and improve in their life. I want to encourage people that, no matter what life dishes you, you've got to go on and it gets better. That's what this song is about. It evolved from the mid-'90s to the late '90s."

8. Reach Haven Postcard

(Sample lyric: ' I wish so much tonight that you were here with me.' )

"It's a very pretty little acoustic tune. I love the imagery on it, one of those cinematic songs where you can really see a physical place. I was sitting on an island writing this song, looking at my surroundings and thinking, 'Here I am and this is what is going on tonight.' What I like about the imagery of this song, more than anything, it's a rather clever little item to do this as a post card. The tritest thing to write on a post card is 'Wish you were here.' I like how I wove that in. When you're not with someone you love the natural thing is to say 'Wish you were here.' "

9. Drawing Pictures 

(Sample lyric: ' She searched for a shoulder and mine was gone.' )

"Sometimes a song confirms why it is I should be doing this. This is very mature stuff by someone who at the time (age 21) had never been in a serious relationship. I do find the song just as relevant now as when it was written.

I wrote it in '72 or '73 probably. This CD starts off like that period, so I thought, 'Why not bring a song from that time?' I always loved 'Drawing Pictures.' It was one of those songs that kept getting pushed aside. Irving Azoff, my manager at the time, used to love it and would say, 'You've got to put this on an album.' But for one reason or another through the years I didn't. Finally 30 years later this beautiful song, written when I probably was 21 years old, made it to an album. I don't know who it was written for or about, or where I was when I wrote it. I honestly don't know. But it was a song always there that kept saying, 'Hey, don't forget about me.' "

10 Icarus Ascending

(Sample lyric: 'Let your faith be your strength and your love be your guiding star…There is a gamble in each proud act of flight, but the losses pale before the winnings.')

"This is the high water mark of this record, for me. This is one of the most recent, a very important song to me as a songwriter. It's a statement of my personal philosophy of being an artist. And I think it is an important song. It does give hope for those who are willing to plumb the depths of individualism in any endeavor, in any art. 

The gift of art is an incredible blessing from the creator. I believe that. It's not an easy life, not a popular choice to make if you want to be everybody's friend. You have to listen to that unwavering voice that says 'You're special, but it's not going to be easy.' It will be very difficult, but if you choose to pursue it unfailingly, I believe you will be greatly rewarded in a way people who are not given this creative spark will ever understand. It's perhaps as close as I will ever come to really expressing my core philosophy.

I'm not talking financial here, but spiritual rewards. Many great artists never realize financial rewards. This is a song to those artists, more than someone like me, who has had every reward I can possibly think of.

So many great artists struggled all their lives and will never see the perks. This song says you have to have enormous courage to follow the muse and that's Icarus. The Greek story is one of the great stories of optimism and foolishness, that he would make wax wings to fly to the sun.

But as an artist you've got to be fearless and keep flying to the sun even though you know you might crash. 'There is a gamble in each proud act of flight' is one of the best lines I've ever written."

11. Earth Anthem

(Sample lyric: 'We are but an island in an ocean. This is our home…Let it be ever green.')

"This album is full of hope. My core philosophy about the nature and importance of art is in 'Icarus Ascending,' and 'Earth Anthem' represents the nature of my own being to protect and preserve and love nature. I still want to make sure people are reminded they have a sacred duty as the human species to be caretakers of this planet.

Bill Martin wrote this in the mid-60s. It is one of the first environmental songs I can remember. It was on a Turtles album. Howard (Kaylan) and Mark (Volman) (of the Turtles) did this song with the Turtles in 65-66, on an album called 'Battle of the Bands,' in which the Turtles did songs as different bands. Mark Volman used to be a neighbor of mine when I lived up in Laurel Canyon in L.A.

I've sung this Bill Martin song at political rallies through the years. I did it at the 'No Nukes' concert in Washington, D.C., in 1980, on the Capitol steps. It's a very inspirational song."

Read the entire "Full Circle" article and interview by Rex Rutkowski