Many rock fans who know the name Nils Lofgren know of the brilliant guitarist from his work with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Its has actually been quite a long time since Bruce Springsteen first invited Nils Lofgren to audition for the E Street Band back in 1984. Yet, for older rock fans who grew up in the 1960s and 70s it was a surprise that Nils Lofgren had decided to hop on board the E Street Band train. After all, Nils Lofgren was a noted rock star in his own right. Of course not as popular as Springsteen was in the 80s, but still, he was a well respected rock and roller with a handful of his own hits. Nonetheless, before Nils Lofgren had gained fame as a solo rock and roller he had started working with Neil Young.
The two would become good friends and work together on and off for many years. During those late 1960s years, Nils Lofgren formed a band with another musician named George Daly. That band would be named Grin and because of Nil’s work with Neil Young, Nils Lofgren was able to get a record deal for Grin. The band would release four albums. Their debut album entitled Grin was released in 1971. The follow up record called 1+1 was issued in 1972. The following year in 1973 would see the release of the final two Grin albums called All Out and Gone Crazy. The band broke up in 1974 as Nils Lofgren embarked on his solo career. This top 10 Grin songs list looks back at some of the best songs released by that early band. This is definitely one of the most overlooked bands in rock and roll history.
# 10 – Take You To The Movies Tonight
We open up our top 10 Grin songs list with the simple acoustic song entitled “Take You To The Movies Tonight.” One can hear the influence of Neil Young shining brightly over this great bluesy style pop song that is just so genuine. The arrangement is just Nils and a guitar and a set of pretty earnest lyrics. It’s in the song’s simplicity where we find its most beautiful sentiment. The song “Take You To The Movies Tonight,” was released on the band’s first album entitled simply Grin. The album was released in 1971. It was never released as a single or a promotional item or anything like that. It’s just one of those forgotten songs expect for those who played that album over and over again.
# 9 – Sad Letter
Continuing with our top 10 Grin songs list we take a listen to the great song entitled “Sad Letter.” Nils Lofgren and Bob Berberich trade lead vocals on this killer track. The band sounds great on this album and especially on this track as they would become a quartet for the first time with the addition of Nil’s brother Tom Lofgren in the band. Groups like Firefall must have been listening to these guys because you could hear how inspiring these guys sounded. The song “Sad Letter,” was the opening track on the band’s third album titled All Out. The album was released in 1973.
# 8 – Please Don’t Hide
In the number eight spot on our top 10 Grin songs list we present the song entitled “Please Don’t Hide.” The song was released on the album entitled 1+1 The album was released in 1972. The album cover featured just Nils Lofgren who also got his name on the cover along with Grin. Nils was definitely generating buzz in the industry with Grin’s second album. This is a fantastic rock and roll record. The song “Please Don’t Hide,” followed up the album opener “White Lies” which would become the band’s most popular song. Nonetheless, this one is a scorcher. Nils lays down some really gritty vocals on the verses. The chorus is a rock and roll spectacle with it’s ringing harmonies blazing away.
# 7 – You’re The Weight
In the number seven position on our top 10 Grin songs list is the song entitled “You’re The Weight.” By the time Grin released their fourth album, they were rocking hard and in many ways they reminded us a bit of the band Crazy Horse in the way they celebrated a no nonsense approach to rock and roll groove which is so defined on the song “You’re The Weight.” It’s a shame that this band never became bigger that they did because as we were listening back to these four albums we were reminded to just how great Nils Lofgren was with this group. The song “You’re The Weight,” was released on the album entitled Gone Crazy . The album was released in 1973. It’s hard to believe that the record company dropped the group after this album.
# 6 – Sing For Happiness
Landing in the number six spot on our top 10 Grin songs list we present the song “Sing For Happiness.” With a true gospel country feel, Nils Lofgren shows off his writing skills pretty early on in his career with this gorgeous ballad. Listen to just how well this is produced. The piano, bass, drums and guitars are perfectly arranged so none overshadow each other. However, it’s the vocals on this one that hits it out of the park. Nil’s tenor stands front and center in front of a gospel chorus that wraps around his vocals chords like a Canada Goose parka on a cold winter night. The song was originally released on the album entitled The Very Best of Grin. It never appeared on any of the original albums in their original versions. It was later released as a bonus track on the reissue of the first album from 1971.
# 5 – True Thrill
At the halfway point on our top 10 Grin songs list is the song entitled “True Thrill.” This is another one of those overlooked Grin songs. The song was issued on the album entitled Gone Crazy. The track straddles the boundaries of pop and rock with a little bit of southern bounce. The group sounds a little bit like Lynyrd Skynyrd during the guitar solo. If you listen to some of the other tracks on the album like “Ain’t For Free,” you can hear where Lynyrd Skynyrd found the inspiration for their song “Ain’t No Good Life.” Grin was a far more inspirational band than most people realize. Nonetheless getting back to “True Thrill,” we picked this one because it’s just so darn addicting.
# 4 – Like Rain
Oh it’s just so special how the sweet sound of the early 1970s surrounds every musical note in this one on this dazzling piece of music called “Like Rain.” Maybe we are just being sentimental, but there’s is just something so magical about songs like this. The early 1970s were a special time for music with acts like like Neil Young, Crosby Stills’ & Nash, Jim Croce, James Taylor, Carole King and so many more. There were so many great bands and artists filling the airwaves. Because of the abundance of big time stars , songs like Grin’s “Like Rain,” got overlooked. That’s sad because this one stands up with some of the best of them. The song “Like Rain,” was released on the album entitled Grin. The album was released in 1971
# 3 – Heavy Chevy
If your looking to see the origins of some great rock and roll riffs, here’s one for you. Listen closely to this great Grin song called “Heavy Chevy.” You know a lot of other rockers were listening closely too back in the early 1970s to this one. This is just pure rock and roll with a too die for Nils Lofgren vocal and some killer guitar work by Tom Lofgren. The song “Heavy Chevy,” was released on the album All Out. Can you say Hot Blooded? Yeah you know what I’m talking about Mick Jones.
# 2 – Direction
Just of the top spot on our top 10 Grin songs list we celebrate the song entitled “Direction.” The band’s first album showcased so many different styles of music. The band at times seemed to fall somewhere between the country rock sounds of Neil Young and the glam rock grooves of David Bowie.This one has always been one of our favorite Grin songs. One can also hear a little musical snippet in the song that Nils would later take to create his big solo hit “Across The Tracks.” The song was released on the album entitled Grin.
# 1 – White Lies
We close out our top 10 Grin songs list with the song entitled “White Lies.” The song was released on the album entitled 1+1. The album was released in 1972. It was the first single released from the album and the album’s opening track. “White Lies,” would also become the band’s most popular song. The tune had a bit of a British Invasion feel to it. The group was a still a trio at the time of the album release. The song featured Nils Lofgren on guitars and lead vocals, Bob Berberich on drums and Bob Gordon on bass. This is just pure rock and roll with no special effects added, just killer vocals, impressive playing and brilliant songwriting. Those were real the glory days!
Top 10 Grin Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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