Nils Lofgren: Cry Tough

Nils Lofgren
Cry Tough
(Eagle Rock)

I’ll be honest, I don’t know that much about Nils Lofgren outside of the fact that I knew he had been a solo artist and that he is a member of Bruce Springsteen and the E Srreet Band.

After watching “Cry Tough” I had to look him up. Lofgren seems to be one of those cats whose talent is appreciated at very high levels but whose solo presence is often overlooked. He’s a coveted sideman. Neil Young tapped him early on (at the age of 17) to appear on After the Gold Rush. He later joined Crazy Horse and ended up getting Miami Steve’s gig in the E-Street Band in 1984. More recently, he’s been a two-time member of Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band.

Since making his professional debut in 1971, Nils has flown under the radar of the music buying public. He’s released upwards of 40 albums; either solo or with his first band Grin … that’s not counting the numerous other albums he’s appeared on as a guest. In his spare time, he’s contributed music/songs to “The Simpsons,” written television theme songs and from 1991–95 he was the CableAce Awards musical director and composer.

Wow.

What you have with this DVD is a chronicle showing the development of a true artist and an amazing musician and songwriter. There are three concerts included, each showcasing a different stage in Lofren’s career: 1976 – shortly after his first solo album was released and featuring a young and hungry band eager to make it; 1979 – showing a confident group with an enigmatic front man; and 1991 – highlighting a well-seasoned band very comfortable in their own skin. Even though the bill states Lofgren, this is very much a group effort. His backing band has remained essentially the same dating back to day one, including his brother Tom on rhythm guitar.

Give “Cry Tough” a watch. I promise that you’ll come away with a new appreciation for an artist you may know nothing about. But one who has continued to somehow survive in an industry which has been known for chewing up and spitting out its own. Nils Lofren’s legacy worthy of your time.