A serial memoir by Jean Fogelberg

The Afterwife

When we returned home from the Summer 2002 Tour, we hit the ground running. Dan was putting the finishing touches on the songs for Full Circle, the studio album he considered a return to his stylistic roots. He was frequently on the phone with Nina at HK Management, discussing mixing, mastering, promotional interviews and distribution of Full Circle, as well as the 2003 Summer Tour and the events to follow. Together, we were working on the CD package design, and tweaking drawings for a house that would replace the rickety little captain’s house in Maine. Dan met with the ranch foreman, George, a few times a week to discuss machinery, fences, and water. 
    Tours; albums; interviews; events; houses; ranch! And this was after the peak of his career. I couldn’t imagine what life had been like for the two wives who had lived with Dan before and during his tumultuous heyday. It was all very exciting, but I was grateful to be the afterwife, experiencing Dan’s celebrity in smaller doses.

    Word of mouth was bringing me new website clients, and I had a growing list of sites waiting to be designed. But first, we needed to find a cat.


After Buckaroo died, the whirlwinds of wedding, honeymoon, band rehearsals, and tour distracted us. But the residual grief hit us as soon we walked in the door at the end of the tour. No cat could ever replace Boone, but we were junkies who needed a fur fix, so we decided to get another cat. 
    We agreed that it would have to be a kitten, because Rilly was so fearful of other cats (and people, and…everything.) So, we drove to the animal shelter in Pagosa Springs. All morning, Dan had been saying, "Now remember, we’re getting a kitten. One. Kitten." I just nodded feverishly, my hands itching to hold a furry little creature. 
    At the shelter, we were admitted to the cat room, which had large wire pens from floor to ceiling. I could see some smaller cats toward the back and made a beeline for them. But it was the wrong time of year for kittens, and even the juveniles were a bit large. Rilly would freak.
    Disappointed, I looked to see where Dan had got to. He hadn’t even made it all the way into the room. He was standing by the cat room door, next to a pen that held a snaggle-toothed old black cat. I walked toward him incredulously, saying, “One. Kitten.” 
    “I know,” he said, lifting the cat from his cage, “But this is a great cat. He deserves a good home.” The information card on the pen said his name was “Rufus.”
    “What about Rill?” I asked, petting the furry black head.
    He held Rufus close, shielding him from reason. “We can’t leave him here, we’re his last chance.” Well, what could I say to that? And besides, anyone who knew Dan will tell you, when he had his mind set on something, no amount of rational argument would sway him.
    The women at the shelter were thrilled: Rufus was a friendly cat who had been there too long already, because of his age. His person had been a little old lady and, after she died, her daughter brought him in. I think he reminded Dan of his black cat, Merlin, in his final years.


Rufus and Dan, at the ranch.

    After getting Rufus home, we opened the folder with his adoption papers and, lo and behold, his little old lady had been someone Dan knew and admired. She and Dan had fought a few land conservation battles together. He was so happy; he got her number from his rolodex and called her family home. The daughter answered, surprised and delighted to hear from Dan. When he told her we had adopted Rufus, her delight diminished somewhat. We chalked it up to the guilt she probably felt, for giving away her deceased mother’s beloved cat.
    We found Rilly and set Rufus down, across the room from her. He approached, all casual and friendly-like, and they touched noses. Dan smiled at me like, “See?!” totally vindicated now. Suddenly, Rill’s ears went back and she gave Rufus her big-eyed wait a minute, you’re that serial killer look. “Oh, no…” I thought, just as she shot out of the room, leaving silver Coon Cat hair drifting in the air behind her. 
    Rufus took off after her, but Rilly knew every hide-y hole in the house intimately, so he searched in vain. After a while, he sauntered into the kitchen like he owned the joint. Dan introduced him to the litter box, and he obliged right away. 
    We enjoyed Rufus, he was one loosey goosey cat. You could hold him like a baby, drape him over your shoulders, put a ribbon on his head and take his picture, kiss him on the nose, whatever, he was amenable. But Rilly started hiding even more than usual.

Full Circle was coming together; it was mostly down to subtle edits. I got to help with punching in and out on tight edits. Dan would play back part of a song for me and say, “Hear that? I need to record over that.” Then he’d Stop, Rewind, and go into the sound booth. When he was ready, I’d press PLAY and Dan would start playing guitar or keyboards along with the tape. Just before the “bad” part, I’d punch RECORD until the end of the bad part, then punch out again so as not to record over the parts he liked. Sometimes he wouldn’t like the new part and we’d have to do again. It was nerve wracking, but fun, and I got an assistant engineer credit on the CD. I did blow it once, recording over a tasty lick he’d been happy with, and I felt terrible about it. Thank goodness he was able to recreate the original take, even better, and I wasn’t fired.
    Dan asked his old friend, Kenny Passarelli, to come and lay down some background vocals with us. Kenny drove up from Santa Fe with his teenage daughter Pilar, his now-wife, Janelle, and their two-year-old daughter, Maria. It was good to see them, and to catch up. So much had happened since Janelle and Kenny had joined us for the Halloween party on our first date. Later, Janelle and the girls stayed upstairs while we went down into the music studio.
    Dan put a microphone next to the analog console, and Kenny and I stood in front of it, ready. Dan pressed the RECORD button, then stepped to the microphone, and the three of us sang our parts, side by side. We recorded vocals for “This Heart,” and “Icarus Ascending.” The lyrics in the booklet show Icarus Ascending ending on “Up, up, up...” but Dan had us sing “Oh yay yay oh-a” on the fade out. 

Icarus Ascending
00:00 / 04:54

Icarus Ascending


Soaring alone upon a threatening wind
Just fix your eyes on the horizon
Cut off from everything you’ve known or have been
I shouldn’t think it’s so surprisin’


Spiraling upward on a freshening lift
Reaching the realms of fleet Apollo
You have been given the most sacred of gifts
You must be fearless now and follow
So, don’t look down
Though your heart may be weary
Don’t look down
Though your wings are on fire 
Don’t look down
Though the night may seem endless
There’s a reason you’re flying 
this fast and this far
Let your faith be your strength 
And your love be your guiding star
Venturing further than the length of your sight
Out past the reach of your beginnings
There is a gamble in each proud act of flight
But the losses pale before the winnings


Circling and diving with this freedom you’ve found
Illusion blows apart and scatters
There is no darkness in this place that we're bound
Love is the only thing that matters


Repeat Chorus

We had to redo a few takes, when two-year-old Maria ran down the tiled hallway above us. Kenny went upstairs a couple of times, to gently explain that the hallway was off-limits. Wildman Kenny Passarelli, the doting father of two daughters - it truly was a new era for these rock and roll bad boys.


    We had been driving home from the dump in the fall of 2001, in Maine, when we passed a clearing on an inlet. I’d been wanting to try shooting a portrait at twilight, using flash, so I asked Dan to go back. He posed for me, with islands and sea in the background, and the shots looked good. In half an hour, during that deep blue twilight time, they’d be even better. We’d been cleaning the shed out and we were both a mess, so we jammed home and Dan took a quick shower and put on cords and a sweater. We went back to the clearing just as the light was going and the fog was coming in. I got eight shots off, and one of them became the center fold of the CD booklet.


    The rest of the photos for the package and subsequent promotions had been done earlier in 2002, before the wedding. Dan asked me to take some photos of him sitting at the console, in the recording studio. We used one of those shots for the inside back cover of the booklet. 

    Henry Diltz came out to the ranch to photograph Dan for the CD cover. He had been working with Dan since 1974, when he photographed him sitting in a rocking chair in art director Gary Burden’s Topanga Canyon house. Wearing a henley and blue jeans, Dan was holding an eagle feather and looking into the camera. It became the cover of the Souvenirs album, and the inspiration for many a young woman's daydreams.

    After getting settled in the guest room, Henry came downstairs for one of Dan's home-cooked meals. Over dinner, they reminisced about "the old days," and it was clear they had a long history together.

    The next day, they hung a backdrop in front of the big screen TV, and Dan carried a chair in from the dining room. The light source was the large window overlooking the basin. That’s how Henry worked: with available light. He never brought umbrella lights or spots; just his camera and his steady hands. He got a lot of shots of Dan, both sitting and standing, with guitars, on this makeshift set.


    Later, he and Dan decided to take some photos outside, in the snow. They went out the side door, toward the woods bordering the house. Concentrating on the shot, Henry stepped off a ledge and fell, waist-deep in snow, holding his cameras aloft to protect them. He and Dan had a good laugh about that; then they got some shots with the trees as a backdrop. After taking the last shot, Henry hurried inside to get out of his wet clothes.


    After dinner, Dan asked Henry if he’d take a few shots of the two of us. Henry had us sit on the couch in the TV room. Dan set his wine glass on the coffee table. With just the light from a standing lamp, no flash or tripod, Henry managed to get the shot. I’m behind Dan, looking at the camera, and Dan is facing off to the side. Before taking the shot, Henry told Dan to bring the wine glass up toward his mouth. Hand-held, and in low light, it could have been a blurry mess, but it’s a lovely portrait. For a budding photographer like me, it was inspiring to watch him work.


    The next morning, Henry packed up his things and carried them down from the guest suite, into the kitchen. George was on his way up with the truck, to take Henry to the airport. On a whim, Henry suggested taking a few last shots of Dan in the sauna, just off the hallway between the kitchen and living room. There was a window in the small, dark room, and maybe the lighting intrigued him. Or, maybe he had a few shots left on the roll of black and white film.
    Dan was going to cross-country ski on the ranch as soon as Henry left, so he was wearing a well-worn henley and ski pants, and his hair was disheveled. But he said, “Sure, Henry,” humoring his old pal. While George loaded up the truck, I could hear Henry giving Dan instructions in the tiny cedar room. He had him sit on the top bench and lean toward the window. It took maybe ten minutes.

    Three of the photos from the TV room, and one from the woods, were used later, for promotion. But, of course, it was one of those last-minute sauna shots that ended up being the Full Circle cover.


A few months after Rufus moved in, I started smelling cat pee in some of the rooms on the main floor. Dan didn't smell it yet, but to my super-sensitive, toxin-detecting nose, the musty ammonia scent kept getting stronger. I tried cleaning the carpets with special pet odor cleaners, but a few days later, the smell was back. Sometimes I’d be walking through the house and a whiff would send me to the floor on all fours, sniffing the carpet like a blood hound, trying to find where the smell was coming from. 
    Dan thought I was exaggerating, so I did some research and was intrigued to learn that urine glows under a blacklight. When I mentioned this to him, Dan said he had one somewhere. That night we dug it out and took it into his office. As he plugged the blacklight in, I turned off the lamp, and we gasped. The beige carpet was covered with bright, blue-purple circles, glowing like fluorescent undersea creatures on an ocean floor. And sure enough, every room on the main floor was alive with the luminous splotches. Rufus was peeing everywhere.
    I bought enzyme-activated pet urine deodorizers, being sure to soak the pads beneath the carpets as well. It took a couple of weeks for the enzymes to munch all the pee bacteria; but it worked, for a while. Rufus used the litter box when we were nearby, but left to his own devices, he preferred the carpets. Now we understood why the daughter had taken him to the shelter, and her guilty reaction to Dan’s happy phone call. 
    What could we do? We weren’t going to take him back to the shelter, and he wouldn’t be happy living with the feral cats in the barns. Thankfully, George, the ranch foreman, had taken a shine to Rufus. He took him home, and Rufus lived out his days in George’s attached garage, earning his bed and board by catching mice.
    Dan and I abandoned the cat idea; we had too much going on, and were talking about putting the ranch on the market. For now, we would have to settle for the occasional appearance of Rilly, drifting through the house like a gray ghost.

    Todd and Lisa came to celebrate New Year’s Eve with us. We hadn’t seen them since the wedding, and were amazed to see how much their baby boy, Luc, had grown in nine months. Dan was Luc’s Godfather, and when Todd asked him to pick a middle name for his son, Dan, ever the Mozart fan, christened him, “Wolfgang.” Luc was a very fussy baby, and Lisa was exhausted. I was delighted to take him out to the art studio for an hour or two in the afternoon so Lisa could take a nap in the quiet house. I love babies, and Dan and I talked about having children of our own. But we were in our late forties/early fifties, and agreed that ship had sailed. It was fine; we loved our life, just as it was.
    It was a relatively small New Year’s party. The four of us exchanged Christmas gifts, the highlight of which was always the rubber chicken that we’d been gifting back and forth for years. Two years before, Todd had dressed the chicken up like Elvis (Todd was known for his Elvis impersonations.) I can’t remember what we did to the chicken the following year, but this year Todd had managed to squeeze it into a tiny fancy box, just big enough for a jar of jam. We were completely surprised when the tasseled lid popped off and yellow rubber began swelling from the box like bread dough. Later, we reminisced about past New Year's parties when Dan’s college chums, Suzy and Elliott, and Elliot’s wife Lynn, had joined us. 


Elliott, Lynn, Lisa, Todd, Dan, Suzy, Jean


Lynn, Elliott, Suzy, Dan, cross country skiing on the ranch

    One night during dinner, Elliott had everyone in tears, playing ventriloquist to the bronze elk candlestick holder at the center of the table. Barely moving his lips, he had it harassing Suzy in a high, menacing voice: “Suzy, it’s me. Yes, me! I’m talking to you. No! Don’t look at me! No one can hear me but you.” Elliott is funny, but that night his brilliance was killing us. 
    The next morning, I came down to the kitchen and Dan was at the island stove, making breakfast. Elliott was on the other side of the island at the bar, working on his laptop. Suzy was sitting in the turret doing a crossword puzzle. I took in this scene of quiet tranquility and had an inspiration. 
    I went to the dining room and got the elk candlestick holder, then brought it into the kitchen. Setting it down on the counter just inside the door, I placed it right in front of the small room-to-room intercom we used when I was working in the art studio. 
    Dan and Elliott made a few comments about the elk, laughing. I smiled distractedly, looking around like I couldn’t find the bronze cleaner. Then, I walked out the front door, across the breezeway, and up the stairs to the art studio over the garage. I went to the connecting intercom, waited a few minutes, and then pushed the “Talk” button. 
    “Elliott!” I hissed, “It’s me.” I paused. “Don’t look at me! No one can hear me but you.” Not knowing if my trick had worked, I walked back to the kitchen. I could hear them before I even opened the door; they were in hysterics. When Dan and Elliott first heard the voice, they looked at the elk, then at each other, trying to comprehend what was happening. We used the intercom so seldom, Dan had momentarily forgotten it was there. Once they realized they’d been had, they lost it. For hours I basked in the praise of two master tricksters.

    It was lovely to end 2002 as man and wife, remembering happy days with two good friends, and creating new memories with their first child.

We entered 2003 in full stride, with miles to go. We would be heading to the east coast soon, to visit Dan’s mother in Illinois and take the Full Circle tapes to be mastered in Connecticut. Then, on to Maine, to find an architect and meet with Dan’s old carpenter friend Bryan, who would be our contractor. Once construction was underway, we would return to the ranch for rehearsals for the Summer 2003 tour, and another bus tour.

    Now, though, Dan was working day and night to finish Full Circle, and I was at my computer in the art studio creating websites.
    I came in at around seven o’clock for dinner one night, to find the house completely dark and the dull throbbing of drums and bass coming from the basement. I knew better than to interrupt Dan when he was recording, but he’d been down there all day. Telling him he should eat something would be futile, and food taken down to him would either get cold, or be wolfed down. There was only one sure way to lure him upstairs. 
    As I walked through the house and up to the bedroom, I turned lights on along the way.  After a quick shower, I snapped long extensions into my hair and put on some makeup. Rummaging through my pajama drawer, I pulled out a lacy Victoria’s Secret lingerie set. The weight I’d gained on Dan’s cooking looked good on me and, for the first time in my life, I had cleavage. Being flat-chested had never bothered me, and it didn’t bother Dan, who had always been a leg man. He was a fool for lingerie, though, and the extra ballast was floating both of our boats
    Lighting a few candles, I turned down the bed then put the soundtrack to the film Rush, featuring Eric Clapton, into the CD player, ready to play. I headed downstairs carrying a pair of pink slip-on Kitten Heels with fluffy feathers over the toes. The shoes were impossible to walk in, and completely over-the-top, but Dan had bought them for me, and over-the-top is what I was going for.
    To get into the music studio you had to walk through the small basement gym and open two soundproof doors. In the gym I slipped the kitten heels on and waited for a pause in the music, hoping it wouldn’t be long since I was starting to get cold. The music stopped. I pulled on the first door, which made a whoosh vacuum sound, then I pushed the second door open.
    Dan was sitting at the mixing board with a guitar in his lap, bending over the controller with his back to me. I leaned against the door frame with my right arm straight up and my left knee bent inward, in my best Rita Hayward pose. He continued adjusting dials for a few seconds then swiveled to look at me. The I’m really busy, what do you want frown pulled his mouth open as it slid off his face.
    Rising unsteadily, he set the guitar in its stand, then he took me in his arms and kissed me. When he pulled away, I had his complete and undivided attention. He steadied me as I slipped the kitten heels off, and followed me upstairs.
    His rock star life was waning, but if I had anything to say about it, the after-life was going to be spectacular.


Posted December 12th. 2020 Copyright ©Jean Fogelberg 2020