Nils Lofgren Says Pope Nearly Trashed a Neil Young Show
Nils Lofgren recalled an incident in the early ‘80s while he was part of Neil Young’s band when Pope John Paul II’s transit across the city of Rome nearly trashed one of their tour dates.
The situation arose when Lofgren and drummer Ralph Molina were in a taxi, making their way to the show, in support of Young’s controversial 1982 album Trans. “[We] headed out mid-afternoon to do some homework and get ready for the gig,” Lofgren told MusicRadar in a new interview. “Very long story short, we came to realize that, because of a traffic jam, which we didn’t realize at the time was the Pope crossing town, we were in danger of missing the show.
“So we actually got out of the taxi – we could see the venue miles in the distance – and decided to walk. After a while we realized that the traffic jam was so severe that there were places where you couldn’t even walk between the cars. … It got to the point where we got so desperate, hot, sweaty and panicked that we started climbing on the roofs of the cars, hopping from roof to roof for probably the better part of a mile just to get to a point where we could find pavement to walk on to get to the actual venue.”
Lofgren added that, when they finally reached the venue, they were “aggravated, sweaty, we looked horrible, we were completely upset and not in good shape – but we made the gig.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the guitarist noted that he’s started introducing more personal anecdotes into his shows in recent years. “In the last decade or so, my wife, Amy, has encouraged me to start telling more stories,” he said. “Even though I used not to like to do that because it breaks up the music, I’ve found that I’ve wound up with quite a few interesting stories, and so I try to throw one or two of those in there. The energy I get from the audience – and the more I keep them on my side and enjoying the night – the better it is for me to let the music grow the night into something special.”
Lofgren – who recently reunited with Young – tours the U.S. starting on Sept. 14 and ending on Sept. 30. Earlier this year he reported he was working on a new album, although no details have yet been confirmed.