10 Songs that Best Showcase Nils Lofgren's Sideman Skills

Categories: Classic Rock

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Photo by Gijsbert Hankeroot, courtesy Nils Lofgren
Nils Lofgren performs with Neil Young.
In this week's cover story, we speak with Phoenix-based guitarist Nils Lofgren about his new collection, Face the Music, which documents 45 years of Lofgren's solo work. But his work as a sideman with some of the biggest songwriters in music history -- including Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Ringo Starr, and more -- has been essential to his journey.

Here are 10 select cuts that showcase Lofgren's singular touch.

See also: Scottsdale's Nils Lofgren Became Famous as a Member of the E Street Band. Now He Gets the Spotlight with New Box Set

Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band, "Photograph" from Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band [1990]

Recorded live on Starr's 1989 tour, where Lofgren backed the Beatle with a bandmates Billy Preston, Joe Walsh, Clarence Clemons, Dr. John, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, Jim Keltner, and Zak Starkey. The term "super group" often gets abused, but it's apt here as the ensemble takes on Starr's touching ballad "Photograph" with sentimental bluster.

Jerry Lee Lewis, Mavis Staples, Robbie Robertson, Nils, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" from Mean Old Man [2010]

Included as a bonus track on "the Killer's" 2010 album Mean Old Man, Lofgren soulfully accompanies Lewis and gospel queen Mavis Staples. "Anytime I get to play with people of that caliber I get to learn something and it's a great chapter," Lofgren says.

Neil Young, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" from After the Gold Rush [1970]

When Young enlisted the 18-year-old Lofgren to play piano on After the Gold Rush, Lofgren protested, saying he wasn't a professional piano player. Young cited Lofgren's history with the accordion, and Lofgren obliged. His beautiful piano work can be heard on songs like "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." "He said, 'We just need some simple parts, and we're sure you can figure them out.' And I did."



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