nils lofgren keith don't go richards 1975 coverArticles

ROLLING STONES DATA: ‘Keith Don’t Go’: Nils Lofgren’s Plea to Keith Richards (1975)

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‘Keith Don’t Go’, by Nils Lofgren
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nils lofgren keith don't go richards 1975

After the disbanding of his band Grin in 1974, American rock musician, recording artist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Nils Lofgren (most remembered as a member of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band) released his eponymous debut solo album the following year. A success with critics, the album was labelled it one of the finest rock records of the year in a 1975 review. “Keith Don’t Go (Ode to the Glimmer Twin)” finds him paying tribute to his hero Keith Richards. As we know, Keith was having a very bad drug habit at the time and Nils didn’t want him to die, thus the song.

This is Nils’ 1975 plea to his hero not to do himself in on drugs. Although the choice of quite a few American rock critics during the Stones’ “Great Guitarists Hunt” of 1975 Lofgren wasn’t even granted an audition. In 1977 Nils released a cover version of “Happy,” repeating the words he misheard on the Exile On Main St. album and coming out with a version much more suggestive than the original. In March of the same year he amended his own lyrics, singing “to the town called Toronto” in “Keith Don’t Go,” thereby immortalizing Keith’s Canadian drug bust in concert and on his live album. Lyrics as follows:

This is a right-away letter, I’ve got to mail it today
Straight to my main inspirer, says urgent from the USA
Its got this heart inside it, the postage is my soul
Contains a message from millions, says Keith don’t go
A thousand guitars wailin’, but it ain’t quite the same
You’ve got a knack for sailin’,
and it’s stamped with your own brand name
We’s all sailors, as captain you must know

You bring a message to millions, says Keith don’t go
I said Keith don’t go,
Don’t take my fun
Keith don’t go, Keith don’t go
We miss our father Jimi, it’s hard to breathe with that loss
But I still got you brother, don’t nail yourself to a cross
I watch you lead the pack, you put the drive into my soul
You bring a message to millions, says Keith don’t go