11/05/2008 1:43 PM ET
A last shout-out to 'Yankee Stadium'
Springsteen axeman Lofgren makes his own tri-state mark
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Nils Lofgren knows all about beautiful people.
They come out in droves to watch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, for which Lofgren has been an indispensable guitarist and multi-instrumentalist for almost 25 years.
They buy his solo music and the classic albums he's played on, including "Tonight's the Night" and "After the Gold Rush" by Neil Young.
They come to his Web site, nilslofgren.com, and sign up for his video guitar lessons.
But for Lofgren and his wife, Amy, beautiful people can truly be found all over Yankee Stadium, a New York and American tradition that the Lofgrens have now celebrated forever with a new song.
"On 'The Rising' tour with Bruce, Amy and I were fortunate to get some really good seats at the Stadium, and Amy proceeded to share her history," Lofgren says.
"And it was formidable. Her mom took four young girls there regularly, as a single mom, and as a teenager, Amy went to games with her boyfriends. She went a lot, and it was a magical, mystical place for her.
"And she came up with that line, 'In Yankee Stadium, everyone's beautiful.' It encouraged me to write the song in light of the fact that the Stadium was coming down."
"The weary single Mom sits up straight," Nils sings, "to her four young girls she radiates a dignity/As DiMaggio storms the plate/a century of worship so commonplace."
"I squeeze my girl's hand, sit side on side/the Bronx twilight and her face collide/A picture so sweet I could cry/a joy and time stand still."
According to Nils, a huge sports enthusiast, it was only a matter of time before he wrote a song about baseball, and the Sept. 21 finale of Yankee Stadium -- plus the fact that the Bronx Bombers failed to make the postseason -- gave him a tight deadline to follow.
The song is now available for free download at www.nilslofgren.com, and he says he's gotten a great response from it.
"I was blown away by the aura," Lofgren says. "I grew up watching baseball, my dad taught me how to play, he would get a catcher's mitt and I would practice pitching -- you know, oil your mitt and wrap it up to form it around the ball.
"There's so much history as a baseball fan, and when you think about Yankee Stadium, those black and white images rush to your mind -- Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio. You can't separate it."
Lofgen didn't try.
Even though he grew up in Chicago and currently lives in the Phoenix area, he considered himself an "honorary New Jerseyan" from all of his years in Springsteen's band.
"I've been up and down the (New Jersey) Turnpike, playing bars for the last 40 years," he said. "I didn't grow up in New York, but I still have that mythical view of the Yankees, and Amy obviously does, too."
The song came together quickly, with Lofgren playing most of the parts but recruiting a Phoenix-based drummer and getting the Phoenix Boys Choir to "add that mythical youth vibe."
"To me, Amy gave me a great vision of the song it became, with the imagery of almost a century of guys like DiMaggio and Ruth and Gehrig and I took her concept and idea and after I wrote it, she altered some lyrics and made suggestions that I took to heart," Nils said.
"The next thing I knew, I had what I thought was a good song."
It's not the only good song Nils Lofgren is singing these days. He has also released an album of some of his favorite Neil Young covers called "The Loner: Nils Sings Neil."
And like some of his favorite Yankees and hometown Arizona Diamondbacks players this winter, he's a free agent.
"I've been without a record deal for 15 years, and I enjoy my freedom," he says. "I can do whatever I want."
"Yankee Stadium" is a direct result of that freedom, and it's a song that will surely connect with longtime fans of the Yankees, New Yorkers who jumped on board in the Derek Jeter era, or even baseball lovers who don't identify with any particular team.
And with each line of the song, the vivid, colorful memories of the old ballpark shine through.
"For every soul who entered here/we raise a glass we shed a tear," he sings. "A beauty in every face appears/hope and love's alive tonight/Oh, my Yankee Stadium/goodbye, my beautiful Yankee Stadium."
"It's a labor of love from Amy and from me," Nils says. "It's an inspired idea. And the chorus really spoke to me."
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.