Wednesday, November 05, 2008

They Came To Dance

You ever hear a new cd and think: "I like this...I like it a lot, but boy does it ever sound like someone else that I used to listen to..."

I've always enjoyed the music of Ryan Adams...from his debut cd Heartbreaker, or his loving tribute to the Big Apple 'New York New York', but his new release Cardinology has really struck a chord. It hasn't left my CD player since last Tuesday. I'm really digging it.

Listen to him and his band The Cardinals perform new tunes Fix It and Cobwebs on Letterman last week. Sweet and yummy alt-country rock goodness.

But it reminds me, especially his delivery and inflection on certain songs, of some other musical artist buried deep in the recesses of my brain.

And then it suddenly hit me...! Yay!

Nils Lofgren.

Nils who?

Nils Lofgren is a rock singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist (read: wicked pianist and guitarist). He is also a long-time member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

I first discovered Lofgren in the late 70's after learning he'd played on Neil Young's After The Goldrush lp at just seventeen years old. After that he'd had a stint with the band Grin and then a blossoming solo career, plus the fact he played all kinds of instruments really well, and I wanted to hear this guy play. I wore out his double live album Night After Night on my turntable...yes, those were the days of albums and turntables.

Across The Tracks, Goin Back, Delivery Night, Valentine, Moon Tears, Keith Don't Go, No Mercy, and his classic (with a crappy clip) I Came To Dance...these songs were burned into my brain. And though his guitar work was always stellar, it was his singing style that stuck with me....a soft haunting warble that still managed to pierce...that's the essence of Lofgren. And to circle back around to where this post began, that's what finally connected him to Adams for me.

The both sing in a very similar way.

Sure, Lofgren is more rock and Adams more alt-country, but vocally, cut from the same cloth for sure. Not to diminish Adam's accomplishment with Cardinology, it's one of the best CD's of the year...but Adams arrives to us today via the trail blazed by Lofgren. And though both were cult figures in search of a mass audience, they still made it...while still remaining artists through and true.

Someone else arrived last night, also via trails blazed by others before him...but he did it. Yes, he did.

And for anyone to get there, you must believe a little bit in yourself.

(that's Lofgren with Neil Young)

Obama. Adams. Lofgren. They came to dance.

1 comment:

Callaghan said...

Always dug his unique guitar style. (Nils, that is.)

Haven't heard the new Ryan Adams yet. I was a huge fan in the Whiskeytown days, right through to Gold, which was outstanding. But since then, he's left me a little cold. Although Love Is Hell was interesting.

I've always felt that he needs an editor. Someone to tell him that five albums in three years is just a bit too much.

That said, I'll check out the new record on your recommendation.