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Nils Lofgren and band rip it up on live double disc set ‘Weathered’

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Guitarist Nils Lofgren sounds like he’s almost in disbelief when he says he’s been on the road for nearly 52 years. The longtime guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and a recurring member of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse, most recently on a 2018 album and tour, tells The Maine Edge the road has been his second home from the age of 17.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician, singer and songwriter has readied the new live double disc “Weathered” for release on August 21. Recorded last year on his first full band tour in more than 15 years, “Weathered” presents Lofgren and his band of family and friends ripping it up in concert in support of his 2019 LP “Blue with Lou,” featuring songs he co-wrote with the late Lou Reed.

The 16 track “Weathered” presents rearranged classics from Lofgren’s vast catalogue, live versions of tracks from his most recent studio LP and select covers, including Hank Williams’s “Mind Your Own Business” and a jam into the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

During the following interview, which aired on the stations of BIG 104 FM (104.3 FM in Augusta, 104.7 in Bangor and 107.7 in Bar Harbor), Lofgren discusses his recent live shows, and explains the unorthodox method of songwriting employed during his collaboration with the legendary Lou Reed, former leader of The Velvet Underground.

The Maine Edge: I’ve always been curious about the songs you wrote with Lou Reed. Three songs appeared on his album “The Bells” in the late ‘70s and then your “Blue with Lou” record from last year added five more. How did this partnership happen?

Nils Lofgren: The great producer Bob Ezrin was producing my “Nils” album at the time and he got me and Lou together to talk about it, then Lou asked me to come to his apartment one night. Unbeknownst to me, he was a huge NFL fan, and his team was the Dallas Cowboys. Go figure, I grew up in Washington, and they were our big rivals, but we had fun. We watched a game and sipped some hard liquor and then talked about doing some co-writing deep into the night.

I had a bunch of songs written but I wanted different lyrics and just hoped Lou would want to be involved. He suggested I send a tape, kind of a primitive sketch of all the songs, and then a few weeks went by and I kind of forgot about the cassette I’d sent to him.

He woke me up one morning at 4:30 in Garrett Park, Maryland. He said he’d been up for three days and nights with no sleep and had finished 12 sets of lyrics that he felt great about and asked me to get a pad and pencil. I spent two and a half hours taking dictation from Lou Reed. He used three songs for his album “The Bells,” and one of them was “City Lights.” He said “I love your chorus but I wrote a story about Charlie Chaplin” and he did a version where he narrated the lyric. I wanted to do it using the original melody which is what you hear on “Blue with Lou.”

The Maine Edge: How would you describe the shows you performed and recorded last year that are represented on “Weathered?”

Nils Lofgren: I tour a lot acoustically but I hadn’t played with an electric band of my own for over 15 years. Next month will mark 52 years on the road for me and playing in front of an audience is my favorite part of the job. It was a joy to hop on a bus with a great crew and travel across the country with this band. When we pull into a new town, I like to get out and explore, go for walks and talk to people and get the flavor of the town. Most of these places I’ve been dozens of times, but I always find something new. I soak it all up and then I get to walk out on stage with a great band and we would give it all in a hands-off, let it fly, jam kind of show.

The Maine Edge: Do you always record your tours?

Nils Lofgren: No, and I want to give my wife Amy a shout-out because I wasn’t going to record the tour, I just wanted to go play and not think about it. She insisted that we take some gear along and record the shows just to have them. Sure enough, months after the tour, I started to listen to some rough mixes and I realized I should share it, so here it is.

The Maine Edge: These shows were very well recorded, it’s a great-sounding record. The live album is kind of a lost art form these days. What are some of your favorite live records by other artists?

Nils Lofgren: Oh my, that’s a tough one. I’d say Neil Young’s “Rust” records (“Rust Never Sleeps” and “Live Rust”), Bruce’s live records going way back, some of the Hendrix records, some of the Rolling Stones’ live records are great. I love being in the room with the artist more than anything, but if you can’t make the show, a good live recording is the next best thing.

(“Weathered” will be available everywhere on August 21. Fans who preorder at www.NilsLofgren.com will receive the free bonus live non-LP track “Attitude City.”)

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 August 2020 11:45

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