Classic Rock

10 Songs that Best Showcase Nils Lofgren's Sideman Skills

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Bruce Springsteen, "Nothing Man" from The Rising [2002]

When Springsteen reconvened the E Street Band in early 2002, it was for The Rising, an album "dealing with as great a tragedy as we've ever had in our country's history," Lofgren says. When Springsteen and producer Brendan O'Brien left the sessions to record strings in Nashville, Lofgren was given the option of taking the day off or a chance to work alone with engineer Nick DiDia. He chose the latter, working up Roy Buchanan-inspired soundscapes to adorn Springsteen's "haunting lyric."

Neil Young, "Mr. Soul" from Trans [1982]

Neil Young's vocoder-layered and synthesizer heavy Trans baffled critics and record buyers alike in 1982. But Trans band, including Lofgren, was simply ahead of the curve. The approach works shiningly on songs like Young's early composition "Mr. Soul," forecasting electronic music's eventual influence on rock.

Paul Rodgers, "Abandoned Love" from Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International [2012]

Paul Rodgers of Bad Company shows of a sensitive, unaffected vocal on this Bob Dylan song, originally slated for the songwriter's 1976 LP Desire. Lofgren's harmonies, guitar, and accordion cast the song in a roots rock light.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.