"Because The Night" might be the most famous Bruce Springsteen song never to have been released by Bruce Springsteen. There's a live version of it on his Live 1975-85 box, but he has never released a studio version of a song that has been covered by Patti Smith and became a hit for Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs. Like a fair number of music fans my age, I didn't know it was a Springsteen song until after hearing other versions for years.
I never would have thought to want this song until it started getting played on the Magic tour, to my complete shock. It was played often on that tour, but I happened to be at two shows where it wasn't and I'd really like to hear it. I wasn't a 10,000 Maniacs fan, but I liked their version of it. I liked the song. I like the live version on '75-85, but I'm ready for an updated version and I'd like to experience it in person and I can explain why in two words: Nils Lofgren.
I'm sure it will take some mouthbreather about four seconds to misinterpret what I'm going to say, but The E Street Band wastes Lofgren. A better way to say it might be that night in and night out, Lofgren's talents are underused. I'm glad he's there and wouldn't have it any other way and I wouldn't expect the E Street Band to rework every song to incorporate his fantastic guitar work, but one spotlight moment per night just isn't enough and that's typically what he gets. He's just so good. The energy in his playing can be exhausting, but you still want more.
Lofgren doesn't play the guitar, he assaults it. I've heard him completely dismantle "Prove It All Night" in Atlanta last year, a night when he invented a language on guitar I've never heard spoken before or since. I heard him melt fiber optic cables and stack amplifiers with an incendiary solo on "Youngstown" in Nashville. I've witnessed the physical punishment he administers to his axe during a solo from the pit earlier this yer in Atlanta during "The Ghost of Tom Joad." I'm told "Because The Night" is another of Lofgren's showcases, and I want to be there to see and hear it for that reason alone.