2. "Longer"Probably responsible more than any other tune for inflicting Fogelberg with the persistent label of wimpy singer who feels too much and doesn't mind expressing it, this pure love song nonetheless boasts a nearly flawless lyrical structure built upon a rock-solid melody. Naturally, it has become a perennial favorite for weddings, candlelit romantic evenings for the irony-free, lucky-in-love types, and adult contemporary orgies of all shapes and sizes (OK, that last part is perhaps a bit hyperbolic and fantastic). The bottom line is that in 1980 this was a justified pop chart bridesmaid (with a No. 2 peak) and remains a memorable example of Fogelberg at his most earnest when it comes to his favorite songwriting theme of romantic love.
Fogelberg maximized his broad appeal with this tune, an excellent mellow song of romantic lament that enjoyed a Top 10 showing on both the pop and adult contemporary charts, surprisingly posting a Top 15 showing as well on the mainstream rock charts. All in all, it's a highly versatile pop/rock song, buoyed by backing vocals from the Eagles' Glenn Frey and seasoned interestingly with some fine guitar licks that balance out the use of keyboards and saxophone. But it's the majestic and highly pleasing chorus that steals the show, confirming that Fogelberg has always been one of the masters within the singer-songwriter movement at developing distinctive, powerful melodies. This is certainly no fierce rocker; it's just of very high quality.
Fogelberg's sweeping, majestic sound has always relied quite equally upon piano and guitar, and this Top 20 pop hit from 1982 continues that trend for this instantly recognizable performer. In his typically melancholy way, Fogelberg crafts a horse racing metaphor to express the search for joy and freedom in everyone's life. In doing so, he combines a trademark soft rock arrangement with a hint of country steel guitars to match the bluegrass feel of the literal side of his lyrics. For humans as it is for horses, every time we step up to compete constitutes an acceptance of risk, a sentiment Fogelberg expresses eloquently: "It's the chance of a lifetime in a lifetime of chance, and it's high time you joined in the dance." Inspiring stuff.
I think I figured out why so many people tend to see Fogelberg as a '70s artist, even if the great bulk of his hits and popularity didn't come until 1980. With his first couple of albums of the decade, the singer-songwriter kept one foot firmly in the decade of his musical debut, retaining an organic if highly orchestrated sound that sounded a bit retro. But that changed on 1984's lesser-known Windows and Walls, at least on this particular track. The marriage of power guitar and keyboards was not totally unprecedented in the Fogelberg canon ("The Power of Gold" stands out as an obvious example), but this is the first time the artist had rocked this hard since that moderate 1978 hit. It's an '80s kind of rockin', but it's rock nonetheless.
Perhaps because his pop fortunes had faded almost entirely by his '80s swan song, 1987's Exiles, Fogelberg again produced a strong tune based around simple guitar riffing in this pleasant if dated offering. It's a little as if the singer came by the '80s sound a little too late to actually succeed with it, as the keyboards, guitars and glossy production may be applied a little thickly here. Even so, Fogelberg continues to demonstrate his grasp of melody and his natural curiosity in vastly different styles. After all, 1985's High Country Snows had delved quite authentically into bluegrass and country. So perhaps this artist faded from the charts not so much because his material had weakened but because he insisted on taking his own path.