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Jackson Browne (born October 9, 1948, on a U.S. Army base in Heidelberg, West Germany), has written and performed some of the most literate and moving songs in popular music and has defined a genre of songwriting charged with honesty, emotion and personal politics. He's been honored with inductions into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (2004) and the Songwriter's Hall Of Fame (2007). At the latter ceremony, Jackson performed his song "Lives In The Balance," which Songwriter's Hall Of Fame notes is, "a fitting example of how his social and political activism has influenced much of his work."
Jackson Browne has been both an introspective, cerebral songwriter and a politically attuned voice of conscience. He emerged in the early Seventies as a soul-baring young folksinger whose songs dealt with riddles of romance and existence. In his middle period he became a more extroverted rock and roller. Later work grew more topical in nature as Browne sang of political and social realities within and beyond our borders. “In a way, I don’t choose what I write about - my subjects kind of choose me,” this vanguard singer/songwriter explained in 1993. “It’s a healing thing, a way of confronting what’s important in my life at the time.”
Browne's most recent album is 2008’s Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Vol. 2, featuring twelve career-spanning songs recorded at recent concerts in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia; Like it's predecessor, Vol. 1, Jackson performs alternatively on guitar and piano. One cut, "Something Fine," reaches back to his landmark 1972 self-titled debut album, about which Rolling Stone wrote in its original review, "Jackson Browne's sensibility is romantic in the best sense of the term: his songs are capable of generating a highly charged, compelling atmosphere throughout, and - just as important - of sustaining that pitch in the listener's mind long after they've ended."
That feeling radiates through Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Vol. 2, which also captures lively exchanges between Jackson and his audiences. Other highlights include "Redneck Friend" from his second album, For Everyman, and four songs from Browne's most recent studio album, 2002's The Naked Ride Home: "Never Stop," "The Night Inside Me," "My Stunning Mystery Companion" and "Casino Nation" (for which Browne recently produced a video). Also featured are "In The Shape Of A Heart," from Lives In The Balance, "Sky Blue And Black" from 1993's I'm Alive, "Alive In The World" from '96's Looking East and the 1982 Top 10 hit "Somebody's Baby," originally featured on the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack.
The album follows up 2005's critically acclaimed and GRAMMY®-nominated Jackson Browne – Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1, which featured the recording debut of "The Birds Of St. Marks," a previously unrecorded song dating back to the '60s. Other recent Browne recordings include his version of John Lennon's "Oh My Love," heard on the 2007 compilation Instant Karma - Amnesty International Campaign To Save Darfur.
Tracing the roots of Browne's career leads back to the mid-'60s and Los Angeles/Orange County folk clubs. Born in
In 1966, Jackson Browne signs a songwriting contract with Elektra Records, which led to demo recordings of 30 original songs. During this period, other performers discovered his material. Browne seemed far wiser than his years on such early gems as “These Days” and “Shadow Dream Song,” which were recorded by Tom Rush, Nico, Gregg Allman, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Browne signed with David Geffen’s Asylum label in 1971. In fact, Geffen’s desire to show Browne’s talent to the world is a major reason he launched Asylum, which would become home to the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits and others. “It was my literary period,” Browne told Rolling Stone. “Long-form rambling songs in iambic pentameter with the run-on philosophical attitude. I was searching bleary-eyed for God in the crowds.”
His integral presence in the coffeehouse scene there ultimately led to his celebrated January 2, 1972 debut album on David Geffen's Asylum Records, Jackson Browne. The now-classic LP introduced ten original songs, including "Rock Me On The Water," and "Jamaica Say You Will," featuring David Crosby on harmony vocals. Crosby and Graham Nash sang on "Doctor My Eyes," the album's first single, which became a #8 hit on Billboard's pop singles chart.
Browne's October 15, 1973 follow-up, For Everyman, included "These Days" and also "Take It Easy," co-written with Glenn Frey, which had been The Eagles' debut single and breakthrough hit the year before. September 19, 1974's Late For The Sky, cited by Rolling Stone that year as one of the '100 Best Albums,' and again in 1997 as one of the "200 Essential Rock Collection Albums," and in 2003 as one of the '500 Greatest Albums Of All Time', was Jackson's confessional masterpiece of lyrical introspection.
Two years passed before the release of The Pretender, November 20, 1976, a cathartic album that had “the right blend of pessimism and endurance,” according to Browne. His first wife, Phyllis, took her life early in its making, and Browne, after a period of mourning, responded with songs of painful, unflinching autobiography, including “Your Bright Baby Blues,” “Here Come Those Tears Again” and “Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate.” The popular title track made a compelling statement about the collision between soul and commerce that left many “caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender.” It was a breakthrough album, Jackson's first to chart in the Billboard Top 10, peaking at #5.
On the heels of that success came what stands as Jackson's top-selling album, December 6, 1977's 7X platinum, life-on-the-road concept opus, Running On Empty. It stays on the charts for over a year, peaking at #3. Running On Empty was brilliantly conceived, an audio-verite tour documentary drawn from concert performances and various settings on the road. His fine-tuned band included guitarist David Lindley - Browne’s chief accompanist since For Everyman - whose parts perfectly suited Browne’s songs. Their high-spirited performances of “Running On Empty” (#11) and the soulful oldie “Stay” (#20) made a 7X platinum phenomenon of Running On Empty. It sold more than 7 million copies. Moreover, the album further moved Browne from a folk-ish orientation to harder-rocking fare.
Browne's next project was the all-star series of concerts organized by Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, John Hall and Jackson on September 19, 1979 to benefit MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy). The first in a series of antinuclear concerts is held at
Jackson's studio work continued with June 27, 1980's Hold Out, a #1 album, his first, featuring the hits "Boulevard" and "That Girl Could Sing." In 1982, Browne scored the biggest hit of his career, a #7 hit, with the single "Somebody's Baby," from the soundtrack for Fast Times At Ridgemont High. 1983's Lawyers in Love also spawned several popular singles, including "Tender Is The Night" and "For A Rocker."
On February 18, 1986, Jackson continued to develop his social focus with Lives In The Balance, his fourth consecutive Top Ten album. This topical disc was included in Rolling Stone's 1986 'Best 100 Albums,' and again in their 1990 special issue of '100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.' 1989's World In Motion was a call to action even more explicitly political than its predecessor. Music journalist David Fricke defined the set as, "one of universal truths bound together by a highly personal focus." I'm Alive evidenced a striking return to the personal and romantic subject matter that characterized Jackson's earlier work. Released on October 11, 1993, and widely considered a career highlight, the disc found Jackson revisiting matters of the heart and soul, on tracks including "My Problem Is You" and "Sky Blue and Black." On February 13, 1996's Looking East, he addresses various aspects of personal growth and social struggle, and their interconnectedness in the world around him.
September 24, 2002 marked the release of The Naked Ride Home, Jackson's first suite of all new songs since Looking East, and one of the most eclectic of his career, exploring the human condition with a grace and insight that he has made his trademarks. When it came out, MOJO wrote, "For those who still think it's possible that love might be the answer to at least some of our problems, this could be the album of the year."
Jackson Browne's overall body of work was celebrated in 2004 with the release of Elektra-Rhino's 2CD compilation The Very Best Of Jackson Browne, featuring 32 songs selected from throughout his career. The one earlier compilation of Jackson's work is Elektra's 1997 single-disc overview The Next Voice You Hear: The Best Of Jackson Browne.
As influential and enduring as his music is Browne's legacy as an advocate for social and environmental justice. In 2007, he received the Chapin-World Hunger Year Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award. In 2004, Jackson was named an honorary Doctorate of Music by
Jackson Browne is currently working on a new studio album, Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2 (2008), the second in a series of live albums recorded at recent solo concerts in the
Solo Acoustic Volume 2 - 2008
Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1 - 2005
The Naked Ride Home - 2002
Looking East - 1996
I'm Alive - 1993
World In Motion - 1989
Lives In The Balance - 1986
Lawyers In Love - 1983
Hold Out - 1980
Running On Empty - 1978
The Pretender - 1976
Late for the Sky - 1974
For Everyman - 1973