Jackson Browne Playlist

When I was growing up, and my family traveled somewhere in the minivan, more often than not, we were listening to a Jackson Browne mix tape that my dad made. My dad loved Jackson Browne. For the rest of us, our thoughts went something like, "OK, he's decent, but all his songs sound the same, and didn't Daryl Hannah dump him for JFK Jr.?"

As time moved on, and I grew to experience the angst of being a single man in my twenties, I listened to the Running on Empty album (which was released in 1977, incidentally) again, and had two revelations:

1) This album resonates with me, and is one of the best I ever heard.

2) Rosie's has a lovely melody. I wonder what it's about...

After Running on Empty, Jackson Browne turned political with his music, and though his heart was probably in the right place, his music suffered artistically. In his twenties though, when he was struggling with relationships, drugs, and life on the road, the man was brilliant. Therefore, since I'll only be experiencing the angst of being a single man in my twenties for a few more days, I offer this playlist of Jackson Browne songs, centered around the entire Running on Empty album.

1) The Pretender - Browne's ballad of how we too readily give up our deepest desires in pursuit of the American Dream.
2) Running on Empty - The Running on Empty album was a live album of new music, most of which took their subject matter from the life of musicians and their crew on the road. This is another "I'm angst-ridden in my twenties" song.
3) The Road - Browne slows it down on this one, which features the fiddle and acoustic guitar.
4) Rosie - As stated before, a simple, beautiful bout the romantic frustrations of the guy on the soundboard. I will say no more.
5) You Love The Thunder - After two slower tracks, Browne rocks out again on the piano and sings of the travails of love. This one is right in his wheelhouse.
6) Cocaine - An old blues cover with familiar subject matter for a touring rock star.
7) Shaky Town - Pass.
8) Love Needs A Heart - More on the travails of love, though this one is a little more hopeful at the end. Of all his love songs, this one resonates with me the most.
9) Nothin' But Time - Since I have nothing to add on this song, let me mention that Kelly Allen, during her Radio DJ days, got a chance to meet Jackson Browne backstage at a concert, and that he was super-nice, and very down-to-earth. After listening to the recent Solo Acoustic album, he really seemed that way in his interaction with the crowd.
10) The Load-Out (Best song on the album, and not on iTunes?) - The incomparable tribute to the roadies, which seamlessly transitions into...
11) Stay - ...a cover of the old classic. Listen for the reaction of the crowd - they are obviously delighted by the surprise.
12) Tender Is The Night - This is the first of three songs I included from Browne's post-1977 period, where his style becomes more adult-contemporary. As usual, his better songs addressed the travails of love.
13) In The Shape Of A Heart - Another breakup song, and a really good one.
14) Sky Blue And Black - The post-Daryl Hannah breakup song, recorded during Browne's early 1990's renaissance. All it took was more misery in his love life to bring him back to form.
15) Lives In the Balance (from Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1) - Not all of Jackson Browne's political music was that bad. This one, written in the Reagan era, eloquently Browne's cynicism of the motives of the powerful, and mourns the effects their policies often have on the common man. I prefer this recently-recorded live version to the studio recording.
16) The Rebel Jesus - Backed by the Chieftains, Browne criticizes the consumerism that most Christians embrace during the Christmas season, and calls on them to show more concern for the poor.
17) The Pretender - An acoustic version of the song from Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1. Just Browne on the piano with an enraptured crowd around him.

The moral of the story - If you want to triumph artistically, have a dramatic love life, and don't get too political in your work...


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