E Street Band lead guitarist and noted onstage backflip specialist Nils Lofgren very much appreciates his other onetime boss Neil Young’s efforts in the hi-res audio arena. “My buddy Neil Young went through decades of hard work to help create Pono, which puts music out in the highest res possible,” he says. “Hopefully, Neil started a trend towards fixing sound quality for digital music. Hats off to him for trying.”
Lofgren, who’s currently on the road for The River Tour with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, enjoys listening to music digitally if he has to — “The access is great; the sound quality is not. It is a nice option to have it all in your hand at will, even if it’s low-level” — but he much prefers putting the needle down on vinyl whenever he can. “After running around on the road desperate to tune in stations or listening to MP3s, it’s nice to actually get back home and sit in your living room and play a side of a record front to back, and give yourself permission to calm down a little bit, listen to it, and enjoy it,” he notes.
Read my full interview with Nils on Digital Trends here.
In an HRAC exclusive, Lofrgren recounts covering “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It,” Danny Whitten’s signature tune from the first, self-titled Crazy Horse album (1971) on his current live solo disc, UK 2015 Face the Music Tour. (Lofgren also appeared on Crazy Horse, most notably having written and sung “Beggars Day,” a track that continues to receive airplay on his E Street bandmate Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM satellite radio.)
“That was the only night we sang that one,” he recalls of “Don’t Wanna”. “It was a kind of request, or, just out of the blue, I got the feeling to do it. I had recorded the original with Danny Whitten and Crazy Horse, with Ry Cooder sitting in on bottleneck acoustic — just a gorgeous acoustic song that was the highlight of the Crazy Horse record. I sing it in my shows very rarely, but we came up with a really great version of it, and I was very grateful to share it live.”
Lofgren retains fond memories of those early Crazy Horse days. “It was such a great band, and a great album,” he admits. “There’s been some outtakes and demos that I’ve heard when I’ve been out and about. It was an honor to walk in on them and Neil Young on their first tour of America in ’68, and then to go out to L.A. and get to know them and have them be part of my musical history. And then, of course, to get asked to join the band and make that great record with Danny before we lost him.” [Whitten died of a drug overdose at age 29 in 1972. Neil Young’s 1975 masterpiece Tonight’s the Night is mostly about the grief surrounding the loss of both Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry.]