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Six Degrees of Separation

From a Chicago Trib (I once reviewed books for their competitor, the Chicago Sun Times) column by Rick Telander (I met him a few times through an old boyfriend):

• I HAD A NICE CHAT with E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren (He lived in the house next door to mine in Garrett Park, Maryland) about sports and music and, yes, injuries.

The first thing Lofgren, who was born in Chicago and has played with Springsteen (my kid will sing with Springsteen today at the Super Bowl) for a quarter century, brought up were the audibles Bruce will call on stage.

”We’ve all been playing rock for 40 years, so he knows if he calls out a song like by the Animals (I hooked up with… nah.), from the ’60s, at least seven of the 10 of us will know it. We’ll have a huddle there on the stage, and we’ll figure things out. The first thing you have to get is the key, so he can sing it. The breaks and the chorus and that, he’ll just scream ’em out when they come.”

If that isn’t Roethlisberger with the Steelers on a broken play, you could fool me.

• • INJURIES: I ASKED why sax-man Clarence ”Big Man” Clemons was in such obvious pain, why he could barely walk.

”He just had double knee replacement,” Lofgren said. ”That’s why he’s got a cane. He’ll be better.”

Then he added, ”I just got two new hips three months ago. Why? I did a back flip off a trampoline onstage from 1969 to 1985. The point of a tramp is to get as high as you can, you know. I landed on a hard floor every night. The doctor said I had the hips of an 80-year-old man.”

Now that is awesome. I recalled that Lofgren, a short, wiry man, was once a gymnast. A backflip with an electric guitar. Like being a wedge-buster.

• • THE SUPER BOWL halftime set list?

Nils swore he still didn’t know what Bruce would have the gang play in the mere 12 minutes it was allocated, an eyeblink for a band that recently played 3 hours, 35 minutes without a break and, back in the day, sometimes played for five hours at a time.

Two six-minute songs? A bunch of snippets?

”You know, probably three or four songs,” Lofgren said. ”Each three or four minutes. Don’t know.”

Then he shrugged. He didn’t care.

Playing with Bruce was such a rush, such a joy.

”I’m in the best band in rock ‘n’ roll, and every night what we do is a Super Bowl for the hometown crowd,” the musician said. ”And we’re always victorious.”…

Margaret Soltan, February 1, 2009 7:16AM
Posted in: snapshots from home

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