Column

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

The Jackson Browne Flashback

Thanks for this, being a Browne fan ever since I saw his writing credits on that Nico album. Three as I recall, including the song only a young man could write. Like Strayhorn's "Lush Life." It is apparent that Browne took his time when it came to recording, he had a lot to master and he did, and he found a receptive place to do it, with Geffen's Asylum label.  Plus, the security, as with Joni Mitchell, not to include his best known song on his debut record.

I chose not to include it in the column but I saw a quote from someone...maybe Frey...that when Jackson returned  to LA from NYC he was too busy ‘ de-flowering every virgin in Southern California’.

My favorite artist and songwriter ever...and you are correct, he's an activist and authentic, the guy he seems to be...the soundtrack of my wife's and my 41 year marriage as his first album came out my senior year in high school...I really liked the tribute album you mention here...some of the tracks were pretty close to Jackson's versions...I particularly liked Jimmy LaFave's "For Everyman" though it is quite similar...but I also liked Bob Schneider's "Running On Empty", which is barely recognizable as the same song...lot of great artists on that...I did see the touring band that you mention and spotlight above, and they were incredible...I've also seen him fairly recently and Bob Glaub was in that band as well, as was Leisz...the other players were people he's been playing with for years, Jeff Young, Fritz Lewak, Val McCallum...I still think his songs are amazing, and when it comes to matters of the heart, unlike anyone else's...and David Lindley's playing on those early records is just about perfect...

So thanks for the Broadside Ed!  I'm gonna say you wrote that one for me, even though you didn't know it...

69 years old...where the hell did all the time go??

Jim...thank you for sharing that and I’m glad you enjoyed the column. A quick aside: I used to manage a record store in Santa Monica in the early eighties and Bob Glaub was a regular. A great music fan and one of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet. 

He's a fine bassist too...he played lots of sessions back in the day as well, other than Leland Sklar, he probably played on more records I have than anyone...

Jackson Browne has long been one of my favorites too so I found this a welcomed posting. I think about the time you abandoned him for a while was when there was a backlash against sensitive songwriters of which Jackson Browne was sort of the poster boy--one of the results in the rise of punk music. That's when Tonio K. had the infamous line in his satire of break-up songs, "H.A.T.R.E.D", "Yes, I wish I was as mellow/ as for instance Jackson Browne/ but "Fountain of Sorrow" my ass motherfucker/ I hope you wind up in the ground." A long ago contributor to this site, "Aging Hipster" posted a great interview with Tonio K. in which he said riding with his producer T-Bone Bornett one day T-Bone told him he was having dinner with Jackson one night and in the booth next to them they overheard people talking about that song and laughing about Jackson Browne. T-Bone was unfamiliar with Tonio K.'s song so he didn't know what that was all about. Tonio K. was rather embarassed and said he really respected Browne had had met him once and Browne was very nice to him and laughed about his song. I thought that showed some real class on Jackson's part and also shows how fans can misinterpret an artist's satire.

Jeesh...I totally remember the Tonio K article and a long discussion thread that went with it. 

Whatever happened to "Aging Hipster"?...he sort of vanished after several excellent interviews with some artists I didn't necessarily expect to see inteviewed here (Tonio K being the best, but not the only example)...he's gone the way of fried clams and HoJo's I guess...

I work with a young Taiwanese programmer who was listening to Jackson Browne one day.  He usually listens to J-Pop (Japanese Pop) so I asked him how he got into Jackson Browne.  He told me  his dad loved him and he when he moved back to Taiwan he left him his CDs. He remembered listening to them as a kid so I guess it was kind of a nostalgia thing.   "Rosie" was the song playing and I asked him if he knew what it was about. He had no idea. Looks like it's me and you again tonight, Rosie

I believe he (Aging Hipster)  is (finally) working on his Kickstarter funded biography of Stompin' Tom Connors. Or maybe that was Gillian? 

And finally, Tonio K recorded with and co-wrote a bunch of songs with guitarist Charlie Sexton who happens to tour with that Dylan guy. Yes, even I, RMUTT can slip in a Dylan reference (just not too often).

Good for you Mr. Mutt on the Dylan reference and the update on the Hipster!  Didn't get "Rosie" eh?  Some things get lost in translation I guess...I could never decide whether that song made "Running on Empty" a better or worse record...it's sort of a one shot (hehe) joke, but obviously you can miss the double entendre if English isn't your first language...I always thought JB was lyrically above about anyone and it's far more eloquent than say, "My Ding-a Ling", but it's a long way from his best tune, even if it is worth a chuckle...

I've been a J.B. fan since college, when I first heard the Lives in the Balance album.  With the exception of some lackluster material in the '80s and '90s, he's never disappointed. One of my all-time favorite artists, bigger (in my esteem) than Sprinsteen or Petty.

Fascinating that you got into him then, and good to know that he was still pulling people in then..."Lives In the Balance" is a fine record, not his best but really good IMO, but of course, his first overtly political statement record, and that is likely why I feel the way I do about it, despite the fact that I admire his activism....the early ones, "Jackson Browne", "For Everyman", "Late For the Sky"...those are some of the most important records of my lifetime...1993, "I'm Alive" too...

Critics were mixed on "Lives In the Balance"... 

Critic Robert Christgau also commented: "The difference is that Browne shouldn't be doing this... he's a pop star who's stretching his audience and endangering his market share merely by making such a statement in 1986. And he's thought hard getting here—not only does his way with words render these lyrics somewhat deeper than Holly Near's, but his moralistic put-downs have that edge of righteous anger nobody's yet found the formula for."[5] The Rolling Stone Record Guide wrote that "the title track is a cutting slice of social observation, but the remainder of the album is muddled. For the first time, Browne seems unsure of himself."[6]

However, the original 1986 Rolling Stone review by Jimmy Guterman praised the album over-all in part because of Browne's "new-found ability to link the personal to the political," which "breathes life" into the songs and "prevents them from becoming too didactic. Browne's not just writing about the headlines; he's trying to tell the stories of the people they affect."[7]

My recollection is that Jackson himself was really happy with the record and even commented that he didn't care if it sold like he had in the past...

I also became a huge fan in the eighties in college.  I happen to really love his early stuff the best, but really everything is great.  And I finally was able to see him live a couple years ago.  I sorely wish he'd remaster and reissue his catalog on vinyl.  That's one box set I'd buy.

I like his earliest albums best too but "Lives In the Balance" was pretty good. I especially love the title track with those Perruvian flutes--a protest song of the highest order and one of his best songs IMO.

It was right after getting Lives in the Balance that I went to the college bookstore and began buying his older stuff, beginning with The Pretender.  Late for the Sky ended up being my favorite, but I became partial to all of his '70s albums, with the exception of Running on Empty, which I liked but never quite loved.  Funny how that's the only Jackson Browne album other people I knew at the time owned.  

Running is my least favorite, as well. 

I think "Running on Empty" has some highlights, but it also has some moments that are not up to snuff...Danny Kortchmar's "Shakeytown" for instance, which fits the on the road theme, but strikes me as not up to standard...the album's uneven for sure...I do like the Danny O'Keefe cover...FM radio was still in it's heyday then, and they played "The Load-Out/Stay" a lot...that in addition to the title song being a hit led to it being his best selling record...

Not sure how I identify a "least favorite" out of his catalog...I'm not nuts about 'Time the Conqueror"...the last one, "Standing in the Breach" was pretty strong..."Lawyers In Love", "Looking East", "World In Motion"  are all kind of treading water to me, though each of those have a song or two I love...I'd not put "Running" at the bottom myself but it's not his best...just the best selling, and as Shawn noted, the only one a lot of people bought...

Ed - Many thanks for starting this string - looks like you're onto something! I also recently "rediscovered" JB, particularly Late for the Sky, which is hands down my favorite. Still great after all these years.

One other thing that's always interested me, and is much to JB's credit both as a musician and a human being, is his relationship with Warren Zevon. Browne was an early supporter and advocate of Zevon, he helped get him signed to Asylum, he produced his first two records, and later helped get him into rehab.

Didn’t know what to expect when I wrote this and am pleasantly surprised that JB is so widely accepted by many of the NoDep readers. I don’t think anyone has mentioned it but his to Solo Acoustic series are exceptional IMHO. 

​Hi Easy Ed and thanks. A Hi from across the Pacific where I'll get to see JB again at Bluesfest. The Pretender and Running on Empty were perhaps the first of the old vinyl to get a run on the new turntable. Browne's writing certainly set a time and place for me as they came out in the last year of high school and the first year of working for a living. I know my wife may wonder where I go to in those 80 or so minutes on a Friday night. But I'm a happy idiot and she showed me what laughter means.  

Thanks for your post! I was at the Columbia, MD concert in 1978 where portions of the Running on Empty LP were recorded. What a memory! One of my favorite concert experiences. Jackson Browne has been part of my lifetime playlist since that concert. Two of my personal favorites are the acoustic Live CDs he put out a few years ago. They are solo efforts, with him and his collection of guitars. The sound is very intimate for the true Jackson fan. What an amazingly gifted artist, a true inspiration to his many fans!