Musician Nils Lofgren is turning 70

E Street Band and Crazy Horse

Nils LofgrenNils Lofgren is quite possibly a musician you’ve never of, even though he’s in the Rock and Hall of Fame. He’s the epitome of the working musician.

“Along with his work as a solo artist, he has been a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band since 1984, a member of Crazy Horse, and founder/frontman of the band Grin.”

He appears on a number of albums that I own. With Neil Young, that would be After the Gold Rush (1970), Tonight’s the Night (1975), Trans (1982), and Unplugged (February 1993). For Bruce, that would include Live/1975-85 (1986), Tunnel of Love (1987), The Rising (2002), Magic (2007), Working on a Dream (2009), Wrecking Ball (2012), and High Hopes (2014).

But he never became a “star.” He was a two-time member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. “In December 2018 PBS NewsHour aired a 10-minute career retrospective Nils Lofgren: 50 Years of ‘just being a guy in the band.’”

Solo

After his group Grin “failed to hit the big time, and were released by their record company,” he recorded some solo albums. I have exactly one of them.

His eponymous first solo album “was critically praised at the time of its release, most notably in a 1975 Rolling Stone review by Jon Landau. The 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide said it was a ‘tour de force of unquenchable vitality and disarming subtlety.’

“In 2007, nearly 32 years after the release of Nils Lofgren, the album was again praised by Rolling Stone in the ‘Fricke’s Picks’ column, where David Fricke said it was one of 1975’s best albums. The album was on the Billboard 200 chart for nine weeks and peaked at number 141 on May 10, 1975.” #141.

When I was working at FantaCo, running the mail order, some guy at Rykodisc would send me free music. I believe that this album was one of them, although it was re-released in 1990, according to the Wikipedia article, and I left FantaCo in 1988.

Cry Tough (1976) got to #32, I Came To Dance (1977) to #36, Night after Night (1977 live double albums) to #44.

“With mainstream success continuing to elude Lofgren, A and M brought in Bob Ezrin in 1979, to oversee Nils. Ezrin was known for his successes with Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, and Kiss. Lofgren: ‘The label said they wanted to bring in co-writers, and I said that I didn’t do that. Ezrin said, ‘What about Lou Reed?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, okay. That would be cool.'” The album reached #54, and he never had another album crack the Top 100 except Night Fades Away (#99 in 1981).

Commercial success isn’t everything

In 2014, he as part of the E Street Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Known for backing Bruce Springsteen in his storied performances, the E Street Band is a gang of musicians bursting with skill, soul, and endurance.”

The Springsteen page notes. “In 1984, following the departure of Steven Van Zandt, Lofgren joined the E Street Band just prior to the launch of the enormous, globetrotting Born in the U.S.A. tour. Throughout the 156-date monster Lofgren became known not only for his scorching guitar work but his gift for stage-worthy acrobatics and theatrics — which makes sense, as in high school Lofgren had been a competitive gymnast.

“Lofgren kept up both roles for the Tunnel of Love Express tour in 1988… And when the E Street Band reconvened in 1999, Springsteen diplomatically answered the question of which guitarist would be brought back into the fold by including both Van Zandt and Lofgren.”

Check out his website. Also this article: Nils Lofgren talks ‘Bonus Tracks,’ Neil Young, Keith Richards and Rolling Stones near miss.” And this one: Nils Lofgren On Playing With Bruce Springsteen And Neil Young, 52 Years On The Road And More.

Songs

When You Dance, I Can Really Love – Neil Young
Back It Up 
If I Say It, It’s So 
Keith, Don’t Go (Ode to the Glimmer Twin)
Valentine – Nils Lofgren & Bruce Springsteen

You should go to Youtube and search Nils Lofgren Bruce Springsteen or Nils Lofgren Neil Young. Oodles of good stuff.

Nils Lofgren turns 70 on June 21.

Pronouns: He/him, she/her, they/them

Addressing someone how they want to be addressed

pronouns
From the National Institutes of Health – Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

At my church – well, remotely – my buddy with a great first name recently gave a presentation for our adult education class. One of the aspects of his talk was the use of pronouns, and the possibility of us posting them on our social media.

Months earlier, my pastors started using she/her and he/him, respectively on Facebook and in email. I hadn’t really followed the issue in the broader society. Sometime thereafter, my daughter asked if I had added he/him to my Facebook; I had not, but it was based on inertia. Eventually, I had changed it on FB, but it took actually writing this for me to do the same on Twitter, mostly because I don’t often go onto that site.

Bottom Line has a good article about this topic. “Typically, society has taught us to make automatic assumptions about what pronouns to use for someone… However, gender is not always that simple. Sometimes a person’s gender identity (the way the person identifies internally in terms of their gender) doesn’t align with their gender expression (the way they look). In addition, not everyone identifies strictly as male or female. So when a person includes their gender pronouns on their email signature line (or on a nametag, when introducing themselves, etc.), they are simply taking the guesswork away for you!”

The “they” question

In other words, they’re doing YOU a favor, people! I note this because I’ve seen so much grumbling about it in certain circles, based on the change in language, their perception of biology, whatever.

This is important: “If someone feels the need to state their pronouns, does it mean they are transgender and/or gender non-conforming?

“Not at all. Everyone has a gender identity, and most of us have specific pronouns we’d like people to use when we are being referred to… Most of us are privileged in that when someone guesses our pronouns, they’ll get them right. However, that’s not the case for everyone.”

Another article I found, from 2019, is Welcome, singular “they”. “The singular ‘they’ is a generic third-person pronoun used in English… Although the term singular ‘they’ may be unfamiliar, you’ve probably heard and used the singular ‘they’ in conversation throughout your life. Here is an example: ‘A person should enjoy their vacation.'”

I’ve come to not just accept but to actually embrace “they” in these and other contexts. There was a song by Sting back in the 1980s called If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, which was ahead of the curve. Although I understand Chaucer and Billy Shakes also used the singular “they”, most of us pedantic types were taught that it was “wrong.” But language changes, our understanding of our world evolves, and I’m good with that.

Easy

I agreed with these pronoun usages. But I must admit that a bit of it is probably the same reason most people agree with new ideas. It makes sense and it isn’t all that much of a heavy lift.

I’m reminded of the adoption of the term Ms. in referring to women half a century ago. I was thinking back in 1972, “Hey, why SHOULD women be labeled by their marital status? Men aren’t!” And Ms. had the S that was included in Miss and Mrs., so it was easy to remember.

 

Code-switching and synthesizing

Multilinguals

code_switchingI’m looking forward to seeing the movie In the Heights soon. Our family plans to see it soon in something called a “movie theater” or a “cinema.”

I came across this video, The First 3 Minutes of In the Heights Changed Everything. It’s referencing the Tony-winning musical, not the film. The angle is that Lin-Manuel Miranda is a synthesizer. No, not an electronic musical device but someone who takes, in this case, musical theater and Dominican and Puerto Rican influences and blends them together.

This resonated with me because there’s someone who I know who’s mentioned to me, more than once, that her son doesn’t consider Hamilton, Miranda’s follow-up, an “authentic hip-hop musical.” And this has been at the point just before a meeting when I can not respond.

Regardless of her son’s bona fides, Hamilton was never intended to be a hip-hop musical. As the In the Heights video notes, massively successful musical theater usually has to appeal to 55-year-old white women. And that’s the commercial gift of both of these shows, that they attract more than a narrow demographic market.

Language alternation

My wife is a teacher of English as a New Language. So she’s my resident expert for the concept of code-switching. Wikipedia notes that “In linguistics, [it] occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation or situation. Multilinguals, speakers of more than one language, sometimes use elements of multiple languages when conversing with each other.” Think Spanglish, for instance.

It’s something that non-white people do in America a lot, even if their native language is English. They often speak one way with their familiars and a different way with others.

This Mental Floss article about African American Vernacular English/African American Language is interesting because it got me to identify my duality.

That is to say that I’m not conversant in AAVE. The reason is that it was not modeled by the black people I knew best, the folks at the black church I attended as a child, my parents, and my grandparents. I never asked, but I surmise it’s that they felt its use was counter to their aspirational goals.

As the article notes: “In spite of its cultural popularity—and despite the fact that it is a language that is systematic and rule-governed in its own right—AAL has been used as a proxy for discrimination against its speakers everywhere from the classroom to the job and housing markets.” This is something that was true a half-century ago and still is.

My father, in particular, was bitterly and loudly opposed to the use of such vocabulary. He said so repeatedly, as my sisters can attest. So if I were to try to replicate the nuance, it would sound artificial and insincere.

AAVE to the ear

Yet much of the AAVE word usage sounds familiar to me. I understand it and don’t hear it as incorrect. For instance:
“HE BE DREAMING” AND “HE IS DREAMING” MEAN TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN ENGLISH…
Habitual Be: This verb refers to a regular occurrence—as in, “that dog be sleeping.”

Naturally, my favorite example of this involves music. Wee B. Dooinit by Quincy Jones and friends.

I know lots of people, mostly white but some black, who are greatly aggrieved by the use of the sound of AX for the word ASK. This has never really bothered me.

And, apparently, its origins are so old – as in Old English – that it shouldn’t bother you. The president of the American Dialect Society calls it “a feature of regular English.” But even if it weren’t…

Thus endeth today’s self-exploration.

Non est scriptor coegi licentia

no car memory

no drivers licenseWhen I posted on Facebook a link to this post about trying to get from Binghamton to Albany, it generated a fair amount of conversation.

One buddy of mine asked: “Not that it’s any of my business, but curiosity is killing me: Why not drive?” I replied, “Because I have no license.” Or according to a translator: “Non est scriptor coegi licentia.”

This is true, as far as it goes. But more accurate, I suppose, is that I’ve NEVER had a driver’s license. Not ever. And while it’s just the way I am, it’d be disingenuous to think it wasn’t peculiar to most Americans. So I suppose it’s time to take a deep dive into that fact.

So I started free-associating and came up with over 1800 words. This means I’ll have to break this up into three chunks.

I don’t “get” cars

My parents both drove. My sisters both drive. It was never that important to me, except for a couple of brief times, which I’ll share with you eventually.

I have no car memory. That is, I didn’t care about cars growing up. I don’t know what model of cars my parents owned except one, I think, was a “woody,” with a faux wood exterior.

And I didn’t keep track of what kind of models each car maker made. I mean Chevrolet had the Chevette and some other “ch” lines. Ford had the Fairlane and the Mustang. But that’s about it. To this day, when I see a car model category on JEOPARDY, I respond exceedingly poorly.

Moreover, I never daydreamed about driving a car. I got around pretty well on foot, going to school and church, even walking three miles each way on Sunday afternoons to go to a second church. I had my bicycle, and occasionally, rode the bus.

In fact, my recurring nightmare was being in the back seat of a car, and the vehicle crashes through the side of the bridge, sinking rapidly into the river. (It was probably the Court Street Bridge into the Chenango River in Binghamton.)

The ex-husband of a friend of mine would ask me, “How do you not drive?” And since I never did, I had no good answer.

Ridin’ thumb

Even before I went to college, I started hitchhiking, from Binghamton to New Paltz, where my girlfriend at the time was attending. I took that stretch of road several times.

Speaking of which, the most serious car accident I was ever in happened when I was getting out of a car after a ride. A woman who had some physical limitation was unable to apply the brakes and plowed into that car while I was halfway out. I swore I’d never be like the driver in a situation like that.

I spent two days in the hospital, a week resting at home, then, when my right shoulder gave out, four weeks of physical therapy.

At some point, I got what was the first of seven driver’s permits, the document one needs to try to learn to drive. I think my first lesson was in the Okie’s Volvo? Saab? In any case, it had a manual transmission, and she screamed at me because I was going to burn out her clutch. And that was the end of that.

Later, she had a red car with push-button automatic transmission. Once I tried to drive it around the parking lot of the Colonial Arms apartments in New Paltz. It was uneventful until I accidentally went in reverse, knocking over a Dumpster! Surprisingly, the car appeared OK.

During this period, my good friend Uthaclena once tried to teach me to drive. I must have been quite terrible since he STILL shudders when he talks about it. I thought I was doing fine.

More soonish.

 

June rambling: a blow to the head

Sign by LP Green, 2021

How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.

Future-proofing the presidency. How to thwart the next American tyrant.

Trump’s Next Coup.

Chicago’s predictive policing program told a man he would be involved with a shooting.

Far-Right Gang Killed Cop In Plot To Blame 2020 Protest Violence On ‘Leftists’.

Hatred lives in a Nashville millinery shop.

NEJM: Dilemmas of Double Consciousness — On Being Black in Medicine.

John Oliver: Asian Americans.

The Mogul and the Monster. Jeffrey Epstein’s longstanding business ties with his most prominent client, billionaire retail magnate Leslie Wexner. hold the key.

What happens if the U.S. can’t reach herd immunity.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
– Anne Lamott

Solidarity

Even though most establishments no longer require mask wearing for the fully vaccinated – and I am – I’ve opted to wear a mask indoors for the nonce. This is in support of the store workers, most of whom are still required to mask up.

Signs Of a Toxic Work Culture—And How To Correct Them.

 Remote Workers Could Quit When Asked to Return to the Office.

Best Websites to Help Kids Learn From Home in 2021.

Amy Biancolli: lessons from a blow to the head.

 7 VA Loan Tips for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Spouses.

 Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So they built a ‘miracle’ village.

How to Be Sustainable in College: 18 Green Tips for Students.

Eric Carle didn’t want his hungry caterpillar to get a stomach ache.

When I heard that F. Lee Bailey, the “high-flying defense attorney” had died, the first person I told was Paul Rapp. Seriously.

Larry Gelman, R.I.P.

Jack Parker White (1931-2021). He was the husband of my wife’s cousin Diane, who I’d see almost every year at the Olin family reunion near Binghamton. He, my late FIL Richard, and I would test each other over baseball statistics.

Speaking of baseball, Ken Levine on how he’d fix MLB. I agree with most of these, especially getting rid of the abomination of “the stupid extra-inning rule where a runner starts at second base.” But the shift, and fouling off ideas I wouldn’t change.

How ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ Saved Disney.

 Sister Cindy Is a TikTok Star. “Some of those who turn out to see her [said] they question whether her internet celebrity status is deserved.” Is “internet celebrity status” deserved?

Johnny Carson as Reagan, a “Who’s On First” spoof.

15 Clichés To Avoid With a Ten-Foot Pole.

Now I Know: The Buses That Make a Bee Line and The Tribe With the DIY Spies and Evolution, Eyebrows, and the Pets We Love and The Kids Are All Right and Why The NYC Police Darkened Their Blues and Refrigerators that Ribbit?

MUSIC

Nite Ride and Sunrise by Jean Sibelius.

You Really Got Me – MonaLisa Twins.

The Last of England by Nikolas Labrinakos.

In Her Family – Peter Sprague,  featuring Rebecca Jade.

Black Dog –  Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Coverville 1359: The Bob Dylan Cover Story VIII and 1360: Cover Stories for Psychedelic Furs, Keane and the Four Tops.

Tiny Dancer – Elton John.