CJ: Thanks for taking the time, we appreciate it.
Nils Lofgren: Sure man. Iím back here in Jersey, actually visiting the in laws with my wife. And thatís it man, just trying to promote my new record Old School, and get the word out.
TD: Thatís great. So are you finding that people like the new record?
Nils Lofgren: Yeah, weíre getting great reviews and itís something that I really, you know, kind of a labor of love over the last year and a half at home in Arizona. I think that itís probably one of my favorite records in the sense that I took my time, and balanced it with going on the road and doing my own show with Greg Barlada, the two of us have an acoustic duo show which is pretty colorful. And being available for my family, my wife Amy, and the 6 dogs on the property.
Nils Lofgren: Six, yeah. Four of them sleep in bed with us. I left the studio doors open. Itís just a home studio in the garage across the yard, and encouraged everyone to interrupt me when I could be of service to my family or take a dog to the vet. And it was a really healthy balance of just working on my own, I probably did about 90% of it just here in my garage studio and then I took it across town to Studio Cat and Jameson Meddle, a great engineer, we mixed there, because Iím not a professional engineer, I just got the parts clean and correctly to tape without any EQ and then he helped me to get the mixes that I liked, because he has a lot more skill and expertise than I have. So it was a great project, I feel great about it and of course having Paul Rodgers and Sam Moore with me was a great honor, I couldnít believe all of them just said yes and did such a great job. And I feel great about it.
Obviously as I was working on the record I was coming up to the big 60, which is a hard number to spin, you canít really spin 60 much, and all that goes with it. I wanted to make an authentic record, Iím still very young at heart thank god but at the same time Iíve been around a while, I just completed last September my 43rd year on the road, and I wanted the record to reflect the reality and be authentic about you know, being 60 ainít all bad and it ainít all good. And I was surprised by the amount of you know, just uncertainty and fears that come with being that old, that you know when youíre a kid you think thatís ancient and if somebody gets to that age they are in a recliner and watching football and their kids are bringing them drinks and putting their slippers on, you know, nothing could be further from the truth.
But Iím just very fortunate and blessed to not only have a great family at home Ė Amy kind of ran the fort and let me focus on this record as I came and went with touring and recording, but also the reality of you know, three years ago, thanks to too much basketball and backflips and jumping all over the place, I had two hips replaced they were just destroyed. And you know that freaked me out, I donít like hospitals and doctors, and Iím so athletic and young at heart, it took me about 2 years to really buy the fact that I had totally destroyed my cartilage, my hips were just bone on bone, and I said wait a minute, thatís supposed to happen when Iím 90. And the doctors were like yeah dude, well wherever youíve been, between the basketball and the stage stuff; youíve completely destroyed every piece of cartilage in both hips. And it got to be agony. And to get through a double hip replacement, both hips at the same time, thereís a great surgeon out of HSN New York City, Hospital for Special Surgery, and you know Amy, we moved into the hospital there and stayed for a while and drove across country with my physical therapist to get me home safe. So yeah itís been a long haul, but fortunately after that I got to work on a dream tour and it was just like I felt reborn, because all of a sudden this pain that had been growing for 15 years was gone.
And you know Iíve been playing a lot with my acoustic show, and feeling great about it, and glad to have a new record. So Iíve just been plugging away, and the second song, 60 is the new 18, one of the more humorous, dark reflections on it. I mean the guy in the song is having a much rougher time dealing with it than I am. But point taken, itís not all fun and games getting older, and my mom used to say getting old is not for wimps and certainly, you know, Iím not in her league at 85 years old, but Iím grateful to be 60 and singing and playing.
Obviously Iím just going to Jersey to begin the journey to get the E Street Band fired back up again, weíve got shows booked in the summer which is just brilliant that that indicates another chapter. And you know, just thereís a lot going on, Iím back here now in Jersey with my wife Amy and visiting family a little bit, and Iím going to go and rehearse today on my own now. But you know, a lot of massive homework and exciting fun challenges to put a band of that caliber back together, and meanwhile Iím singing songs, promoting my record, and once I get a detailed schedule Iíll try even get out and promote Old School, my new record, and you can still get it at NilsLofgren.com. And you know, just keep my guitar school going and take lessons, and Iíve got a cool website and a lot going on.
CJ: So Nils, I think your comment about being young at heart is really important here, spot on. So youíve been on the road since you were 17 right?
Nils Lofgren: Yeah, I hit the road in Ď68, you know, 43 years ago. And youíre right about that, one song in particular that is kind of hopeful in a dark musical sense, Dream Big, Work Hard, Stay Humble and you Better Dance A Lot, itís kind of metaphorical. Like meaning as you get older I find that the darkness is hovering a little closer, and youíve really got to work a little bit more fervently a finding the light, finding things to be excited, engaged about, otherwise you get a little, you can descend into darkness a bit quicker I find as you get older. So that song is really about that itís not really about something that is extracurricular for me, itís really critical. Like yeah I donít have to be out in a bar jamming every night, but 2 years ago my wife Amy gave me a harp, for Christmas, not a harmonica an actual harp, just something simple like walking into the guest room and playing the harp for a couple of minutes here and there, trying to pick out some melodies and keep learning, keep growing. I find that if I donít do that now, in some fashion on a pretty regular basis, I can get pretty overwhelmed or get into a dark place. But the good news is Iíve got the health and mentality to recognize it and for the most part do something about it. I mean I can be a couch potato and watch the NFL with the best of them, but at some point youíve got to get off the couch and do something that engages you or youíre going to get into trouble.
CJ: Nils, if you had to go back to 1968, if you had to meet yourself back then, what advice would you give a 17 year old Nils Lofgren getting on the road for the first time, after all these years and everything youíve learnt.
Nils Lofgren: Oh man thatís a rough one. Well a couple of things come to mind, you know I would have probably advised me to spend a little more time not being quite so reckless with my health, just regarding, you know. I mean look, I played basketball all the time and football as a kid, and was always getting banged up. But I guess thatís part of growing up. I guess the other thing would be just that you know I counsel myself to spend a few less days on the couch watching football and eating Haagen-Dazs and get up and write a song or something. But just in a small way, you know I can float with the best of them, and when it comes time to work, Iíve got a pretty good work ethic when Iím out on the road with a great band.
Stone Pony London
The SPL's Nils Lofgren Old School Intervew: Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4