Dan Fogelberg - Forefathers Lyrics

They came from Scandinavia, the land of midnight sun
And crossed the North Atlantic when this century was young
They'd heard that in America every man was free
To live the way he chose to live and be who he could be

Some of them were farmers there and tilled the frozen soil
But all they got was poverty for all their earnest toil
They say one was a sailor who sailed the wide world round
Made home port, got drunk one night, walked off the pier and drowned

My mother was of Scottish blood; it's there that she was born
They brought her to America in 1924
They left behind the highlands and the heather-covered hills
And came to find America with broad expectant dreams and iron wills

My granddad worked the steel mills of central Illinois
His daughter was his jewel; his son was just his boy
For thirty years he worked the mills and stoked the coke-fed fires
And looked toward the day when he'd at last turn 65 and could retire

And the sons become the fathers and their daughters will be wives
As the torch is passed from hand to hand
And we struggle through our lives
Though the generations wander, the lineage survives
And all of us, from dust to dust, we all become forefathers by and by

The woman and the man were wed just after the war
And they settled in this river town and three fine sons she bore
One became a lawyer and one fine pictures drew
And one became this lonely soul who sits here now
And sings this song to you

And the sons become the fathers and their daughters will be wives
As the torch is passed from hand to hand
And we struggle through our lives
Though the generations wander, the lineage survives
And all of us, from dust to dust, we all become forefathers by and by

By and By; By and By

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Dan Fogelberg Forefathers Comments
  1. Debra Geymayr

    My running song...

  2. Peter Crocker

    Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton debate the proper course for America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBZAqmSM0wY

  3. steeden54

    If you don't tear up hearing this song, you've got a hard heart.

  4. peter powell-berz

    Dan breaks my heart every day I wake up

  5. Mary Lacey

    My grandmother was expecting my Aunt Elisabeth when they came across the Atlantic. Must have been one arduous journey!

  6. peter powell-berz

    I always cry because I know I’ll be a forefather by and by

  7. Ryan Tenezaca

    2019 anyknw

  8. Debbie Alford

    Absolutely amazing!

    Tony Westbrook

    He's my all time favorite, period. love listening to him on trips to Virginia. Makes the journey shorter and more pleasing.

  9. DAW0lf

    Rest In Peace dad

  10. Holladay Cummings

    Agreed, I believe  life is being lost. There is such a distrust with each other...we are lost.


    Great song

  12. Blonde Ambition

    Thank you so much for sharing this song and information. I have loved Dan Fogelberg's music for decades.

  13. randall scott burress

    Gov't ment supports Monsannto get ready for it

  14. randall scott burress


  15. Holladay Cummings

    I have pics from the struggles my family, the west.

  16. Mary Lacey

    Love the photography in this video!

  17. OBard080

    Ah, yes, the migrant story...!

  18. Debra Geymayr

    My favorite running song for YEARS, thank you Dan.

  19. Drew Mason

    Absolute music/word genius.

  20. Manu Arancibia

    grande Dan

  21. Ali Jones

    A Great nation based on Immigration may we pray her now that we are being infiltrated by Terrorist !!


    Ali Jones lol

  22. Patricia Grrisham

    love his music.

  23. Brad Bradley

    such a beautiful song miss Dan very much

  24. sisuboy

    Saw the"Wild Places" tour,in,it must have been 1990,because that's when the CD came out,at the Beacon Theater in NYC.  What a great show!

  25. Ron Lanham

    Love the Wild Places CD....I remember mom getting it for me for Christmas...I played it to death!!!

  26. Derrick Boyd

    Love this one along with many more of Dan's.

  27. Blonstein Neil

    This is the only song that makes me cry if I simultaneously think of my grandparents-migrants. The slide-show is perfect.

    Shelley Cohen Montgomery

    It makes me cry also.

  28. Maggie G

    Such a great song. One of my many favorites. 7 years today he left us. I miss waiting for more music. He ws s such a true artist and musician. I miss him.

  29. TheLarzy

    I have this CD its still  one of my favorites.  Had the good fortune of seeing him twice at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.

  30. Michele Syvertsen

    One of my favorites.  Thank you so much for posting.  The words and pictures are a perfect match.  (And Dan was quite a photographer too.)

  31. Kevin Hoffman

    All of us DanFans know what great music is. This is it!

  32. Kevin Hoffman

    I own every album Dan released in his lifetime, and there is not one single song where I felt as though he wasn't giving it his all! No matter what your origins are, this song applies to everyone.

  33. swissbliss24

    Great song!

  34. FeralChuck

    His death was such a loss...

  35. Sarad Thamia

    I have fond memories of listening to this album with my momma. This came out when I was eight and listened to it with her a lot. She always liked this song. I've always liked Lovers In A Dangerous Time. The only version I can find on YouTube is the Bare Naked Ladies cover. It's just not the same. I'm really fond of Anastasia's Eyes and Blind To The Truth. Wish I could find those on YT. I would love to get this for me and Momma. Thanks for posting. Brought back great memories. ;)

    John Carter

    Lovers In a Dangerous Time is a Bruce Cockburn song, although they both are/were similar supremely talented artists.

  36. dragonsofliberty

    Great vid... thanks so much for posting! I really like the pictures you chose. The lyrics of this song are so compelling... even though my family history is very different from what is described here, it makes me feel more connected to my ancestors when I hear it.
    Would you be willing to post the song "Blind to the Truth" from this same album? That song is messed up on my old cassette tape and I can't find it anywhere online.

  37. lydiaart

    Lovely song and wonderful photos to accompany it. I saw Dan twice in concert. Both times it was great.

  38. HappieKaffie

    We miss you Dan,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  39. TheSaverino

    Whenever I need a song about anything in my life, I just go to Dan's music. He wrote about EVERYTHING that pertains to ALL aspects of our life. I found this song today when I received an e-mail from a long lost cousin doing a family tree on my Italian side. Lo and behold, Dan has a song! Awesome! Once again, thank you Beggarsgame!

  40. Julie Hopkins

    Donna, You did such a beautiful job with this. It's lovely and matches the song so beautifully. Hugs to you.

  41. HiVybe

    ...makes me want my mom and dad. I know they would have loved Dan's music...

  42. Cathye Graham

    Great song, my hobby is genealogy and I love history. This song really fits into my love of these two hobbies. There never be a song writer or voice like Dan. Wish we could have had him longer.

  43. Vee Beth Herrera

    I love your post o how we all "become forefatherss by and by"

  44. Vee Beth Herrera

    I think t we can all relate to a song about forefather. WE all beccome "by and by"

  45. meezerlover

    This song means a lot to me. Being of Scandinavian descent myself it has special meaning, but more so that it reminds us who we are and how we got here and all the sacrifices people made for us years before us to get us to where we are now. We take it all to much for granted. Least we forget the words of this song... "We all become forefathers by and by..."

  46. cbsbean

    Exotic, that may all be true, but you are woefully short-sighted if you don't realize how the poor are treated in other countries. Try some Latin American countries, the Near and Far East, and Africa. Complain about that because it is much, much worse once you learn about it. Have some gratitude that you are an American and don't be spoiled.

  47. Niveus Vir

    This was a pleasure to watch.

  48. toooldtodie

    thx for an additional information about Dan himself; this is a quite new for me and may be it is an explanation of the source for not so American Dan's sadness and sentimentality, I mean the midnight sun.

  49. Michele Syvertsen

    Thank you so much for this...you did a beautiful job. This is one of my favorites. So many of Dan's songs are "my favorites" The pictures you used in your video make me think of my own family's journey from Ireland, Italy, and Holland. People came here, leagally, honestly, and worked hard their whole lives. Didn't mean to get political...thank you again this...Michele

  50. Vee Beth Herrera

    no matter the ethnicity this song resonates. I LOVED and will always love Danny Boy

  51. cyberlucy

    As Dan fan who is in to genealogy this song really pleased me a great deal to see that my idol was into his own family heritage.

    Thank you for this vid. It was beautiful

  52. Brian Zschiesche

    Wow...this made me bawl.....I love D.F.

  53. dragonsofliberty

    this is beautiful, thanks for posting.

  54. TheLastNail

    This is much more moving with the faces--the emotions and struggles come alive and you really feel it. Just like Dan, you really know the language to talk to the heart, Donna. This says so much. Thanks again, for another effort to be cherished.

  55. Julie Hopkins

    Donna, this is one of my all time favorite Dan songs...well, they all are, but this one in particular. You've done such a wonderful, beautiful job and captured the essence so well. Thank you so much!

  56. Michelle Cutler

    You are an artist, Donna! I bet Dan would get such a kick out of what you do with his music!!
    Happy Holiday!

  57. stormbouy

    thanks beggarsgame....
    quality clip!!

  58. EquuSpirit

    Exquisitely beautiful and heart-rendering...a fabulous tribute and a deeply meaningful message on this long Labor Day weekend! Thank you, Donna!

  59. doofus0123

    nice, thanks for letting me know!

  60. NR Davis

    Gorgeous and heartfelt. Many thanks.

  61. bonsaipal

    Perfect in every way Donna, a fitting tribute to a song that Dan was rightfully proud of. His legacy lives on in the gift of song.


    simply beautiful! thanks for posting it.5stars

  63. headcaseworker

    You've done it again, Donna! Just as beautiful as the Man himself! Thank you! (And I'm wearing my pin as I type this) God bless you, Dan!

  64. billp1955

    Beautiful! Thanks Donna