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So Long, England Dan

It’s really a bummer to be the guy who always talks about who has died recently, but when your subject matter deals in large part with people and events of ten, twenty, sometimes even forty, fifty or more years ago, it’s kind of an occupational hazard.

One of the latest losses suffered by classic country music is the death of Dan Seals. Yes, before you even start in on me, I do know that he started out on the soft rock/pop side of the fence as England Dan of England Dan and John Ford Coley. Whatever successes he had in ‘70s with that music, though, isn’t what I’m concerned with. It’s the ‘80s and early ‘90s that I’m talkin’ about, when he had more than 20 singles on the country charts, with 11 of them hitting No. 1.

Most all of his country stuff was really good, but to my way of thinking, it broke down pretty much into two kinds of good.

The first good kind is the kind of song that you enjoy, and like, and have fond memories of, but at some point, you’ve just heard it…enough..times…already. The Dan Seals songs that fall into this category include “Bop,” “Three-time Loser,” and “One Friend” (all No. 1 hits, btw). I mean, how can you not like “I wanna bop with you baby, all night long, I wanna bop the night away…”? It was the CMA single of the year, and even crossed over to the pop charts. But… if I don’t hear this song again until about 2025, that’ll be just about alright with me. I like it, but I just can’t hear it any more.

The second good kind of good is the kind that is wrenching and haunting and you could hear it a million times, and then STILL turn the radio up when it comes on again. I’m talking here about “All That Glitters,” “Addicted,” and “They Rage On.” You can still hear “All That Glitters” and “You Still Move Me” now and then on the airwaves, but good luck finding “Addicted” (even though it was nominated for a Grammy) or “They Rage On,” and it’s a shame, because I think they aren’t just great songs to listen to, but that they are also some of his most artistically meaningful work.

And now for the exception that proves the rule: “Meet Me in Montana,” his duet with Marie Osmond. The first of a string of nine No. 1 hits, it also took the CMA award in 1986 for Vocal Duo of the Year. And I say this is the exception that proves the rule because it’s one of those good songs that I’ve heard just waaaay too many times… BUT I’ve still got to turn up the radio when it comes on. I think it’s because it references Montana… if Dan and Marie wanted to meet each other in, say, New Mexico or Oregon, I think I could get by without ever hearing this song again. But I’m just a sucker for the last best place.

So, a tip of the cowboy hat to Dan Seals. His contributions to country music go beyond the few songs I’ve mentioned, and he’ll be missed. For more info on him, visit his official site at www.sealsandseals.com.

About R. Keith Rugg

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