Bruce Springsteen‘s tour is starting right here in Atlanta this Sunday night and Mara Davis had a chat with Nils Lofgren of Bruce’s E Street Band.
[pullquote quote="There's a new confidence and appreciation and gratitude for being in a band that's still largely alive and playing great, because that's very rare." credit="Nils Lofgren"]His recently released solo album, Old School, features songs with titles like the “60 Is New 18,” “Ain’t Too Many of Us Left” and “Miss You Ray,” about Ray Charles. Spending the last several years staying musically busy, touring with the E Street Band and playing solo acoustic shows put him in a good place to write songs from a ‘warmed-up’ place. “I was not musically rusty. I just took my time, wrote about 20 songs.”
Looking at the big “6-0″ also influenced his work, but he still has excitement about new sounds, what might be coming around the corner. A few years ago, his wife gave him a lever harp, which he knew he could use to hang his clothes, or learn how to use it. “There’s no race, as long as I’m on that road, no matter how slow I’m going, I’m finding a peace in that.”
E Street Band’s Nils LofgrenLofgren has also played in Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band as well as Neil Young‘s band but he’ll mark 28 years in the E Street Band this May. On the road for 44 years, his six dogs give him dirty looks when they see the suitcases come out again. “That’s rough, to leave home,” he mused.
The shock of losing Danny Federici in 2008 and Clarence Clemons last year has brought the band together and has helped them “navigate the losses.” “We’re all grieving Clarence in our own way,” he said. “There’s a new confidence and appreciation and gratitude for being in a band that’s still largely alive and playing great, because that’s very rare.”
Listen to Mara’s whole interview with Nils below:
Nils said he loves playing Atlanta and is excited about coming. He used to play here back in the 70s at Alex Cooley’s Ballroom and the Fox Theater, which at that time, was in the process of being saved. Looking forward to their show at Philips Arena, he said, “To walk in, and have it be our show, our audience, no TV and just getting to do our thing… it’s an extraordinary blessing and opportunity for any musician and it’s not lost on me — I’m gonna soak it up.”
A huge fan of Jimmy Fallon, he loved the parody of “Whip My Hair” that Bruce did with Fallon. “I’ve never been on a TV show where it was more relaxed and the vibe was so conducive to music,” Nils said about appearing on Fallon’s show.
Bruce Springsteen Still RockingAbout the show coming up this weekend, he offered only hints of what to expect. “For the first time in history… we’ve got three and a half albums of new music that has never been incorporated in a show… it’s a massive amount of tools now.” The show evolves all the time, songs come and go as they tour. So it’s hard to know what to expect. “[Bruce] never follows a set list.. and he’ll call out surprises… and he’s not doing it to stump the band, he just gets inspired.”
“I don’t think anyone likes leaving home anymore…” he said, referring to today’s audiences. “It’s such a pain in the neck, babysitters, rent-a-car… so when all those people get into that building expecting something special, it makes you realize there’s an opportunity there and you want to make the most of it, and I’ve never seen anyone take more advantage of that than Bruce and the E Street band.”
Pick up Nils’ new album at nilslofgren.com, where you can also order online guitar lessons.
More of Mara’s Interviews: