David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 325: Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg (The Power Of Gold)

February 10, 2024

Recently I joined a Facebook group called "Ancient Dungeon and Dragons Players." It was kind of a coming-out party in a way. I never thought I might publicly admit to being . . . ancient. Anyway, I mostly lurk, responding usually only when my equally ancient D&D buddies post something. The conversations range from esoteric to banal. Not sure where the question about "what did you eat when you played D&D?" (Fritos and French Onion Dip, baby) fell, but in some ways, I love those kinds of questions more than some of the technical banter. For me, a role-playing game was all about the socialization.

Which I why I was waiting for the "what did you listen to when you played D&D?" question. I, no surprise here, would have a lot to say. Instead, when the question came, it wasn't historical ("what did you listen to?"), it was current ("what do you listen to when running a campaign?"). Since I am no longer gaming, I couldn't answer it directly, although I threw in a quick historical reference.

The truth is that we listened to a lot of Dire Straits, Blue Öyster Cult, Blondie, Cars, groups I have long covered in this series. However, recently I discovered a mix CD one of my buddies made putting together songs from those D&D days, and I was reminded we also listened to "The Power Of Gold" by Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg. It was the surprise hit (#24) from an album by a couple of artists barely in the margins, let alone the mainstream, at that time, with even Fogelberg's mainstream success ("Auld Lang Syne") being a few more years and albums down the road.

Nevertheless, one of my friends had the album, so we played it, or maybe we just set the needle on "The Power Of Gold," which is the last song on Twin Sons Of Different Mothers. Only 3 of the album's songs even featured vocals, so maybe those flute, piccolo and mandolin numbers went in one ear and out the other while I rolled (poorly) three-sided, six-sided, and twenty-sided dice all over Steve's family room (which meant they might have ended up dangerously close to his aging dog, replete with ancient dog farts). Let's just say I am dice-challenged.

Could there be a better accompanying song for 15-year old D&D'ers than "The Power Of Gold"? Let's face it, the game allowed us to set aside our nice, boy-scout influenced personas for greedy, blood-thirsty adventurers. As a dwarf character, I, of all the characters, should have been enthralled by those opening lines:

The story is told of the power of gold/

And its lure on the unsuspecting/

It glitters and shines/

It badgers and blinds/

And constantly needs protecting.

As Chazin the Dwarf, I would have bellowed "are you under the power of gold" throughout the choruses. On the other hand, I was certainly oblivious to "balance the cost of the soul you lost/with the dreams you lightly sold." And I am not even sure I remember hearing the coda, "the women are lovely/the wine is superb/but there's something about the song/that disturbs you." If anything, I would have grumbled, "what's disturbing about that?"

Notice, how my verb choice indicates uncertainty in that paragraph above. Honestly, I wonder how anybody remembers with any clarity something from 45 years ago. I remember generally playing, generally goofing off, generally hewing a kobold's head with my battle-axe, and generally listening to the music (with pauses for air guitar during the live version of Blue Öyster Cult's "Astronomy") but I remember few specifics with certainty. Is this just me? I used to joke that I killed too many brain cells with alcohol, but I haven't drunk that much in my life.

I chose the dwarf as my character race because it seemed to embody everything I wasn't: a bit on the blood-thirsty side, tinged by avarice, strong, mechanically-inclined, able to sport a beard. I guess I should have anticipated that a dwarf's famous long memory also was something I didn't possess (interestingly, their unwillingness to let go a grudge isn't that far from my personality).

It's my lack of detailed memories that leads to me lurking on the Ancient Dungeon and Dragons' Players Facebook site. I don't have a whole lot of specific memories outside of just enjoying myself and appreciating the fantasy part of role-paying games. I didn't have to worry about Mr. DeAntonis' Driver's Ed class in that five hours in Steve's or my basement. This power of memory (now that would be a song!) or, maybe better, this persistence of memory, fascinates me. I am also not a big picture guy, meaning I have pictures from throughout my life, but almost none taken by me, so I don't think I ever saw the camera as a recorder of events. I remember buying a digital camera back in the day (obviously not that far back) and rarely using it. Feeling like a moment should be preserved seems foreign to me.

I guess this is why nostalgia-based sites like "Ancient Dungeons and Dragons' Players" are mildly interesting but not something I fully commit to. It also feels a little too Baby Boomer for me. Besides no one posts about Travis and Taylor on there. Sheesh!

Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg. "The Power Of Gold." Twin Sons From Different Mothers. Epic, 1978. Link here.

Day 324: U2 "40"

Day 326: Squeeze "Cool For Cats"

See complete list here.