Jackson Browne overview: 50 years after his debut, America’s most interesting singer-songwriter stays a magical presence


Few California singer-songwriters are as adored as Jackson Browne. Regardless of being born in Germany to an American serviceman, Browne has been synonymous with the golden state because the Sixties. Raised within the now overwhelmingly hip Los Angeles neighbourhood of Highland Park, he started his profession as an adolescent within the metropolis’s well-known folks golf equipment, earlier than a brief stint in New York along with his lover and collaborator, Nico. He returned to LA when he was nonetheless solely 19 and located himself on the centre of a blossoming folk-rock scene that included his associates Linda Ronstadt and Glenn Frey of the Eagles. Ever since, Browne’s emotive Laurel Canyon-adjacent sound has moved seamlessly with the a long time, from swooning Seventies ballads to his Eighties rockers – to not point out a shocking experiment with reggae. Later got here extra socially aware work, equivalent to his 2020 profit album for Haiti. There have additionally been quite a few environmentalist initiatives and a longstanding pledge to make his excursions “inexperienced”.

Tonight, he’s taking his “Night With” run of reveals to Santa Barbara, a scenic beachside city simply up the coast from Los Angeles. Browne wastes no time in telling the group how a lot he likes it right here. “We’ve performed lots of locations on this tour,” he says, grinning. “They have been OK, however they weren’t Santa Barbara.” It’s simple to see why he’s so eager on this explicit location – for the opening of his set, the moon rises behind the statuesque silver birch bushes that encompass the open-air stage, which was carved into this lush hillside within the Nineteen Thirties.

Sporting the identical easy all-American uniform he’s had for over six a long time – blue denims and a flannel shirt – he spends the following three hours charming the well-heeled crowd with endearing, spontaneous chatter. There are songs too, radiant and honest. They arrive from his eponymous 1972 debut (“Jamaica Say You Will”, “Rock Me on the Water”, “Physician My Eyes”) and 1974’s heartbreaking Fountain of Sorrow – the transcendent title monitor of which is lengthy rumoured to be about his quick affair with Joni Mitchell. There’s even 1980’s “That Woman Might Sing”, which he winkingly remembers as being “in regards to the first woman I ever noticed driving a Jeep”.

A young, lap-steel assisted rendition of “These Days” – written when Browne was simply 16 and lined by Nico in 1967 – renders the Santa Barbara Bowl near-silent, whereas moody break-up anthem “Late For The Sky” tugs on the heartstrings with unnerving pressure. However Browne additionally nonetheless is aware of tips on how to have enjoyable. “Take It Straightforward”, which he co-wrote with Frey and have become one of many Eagles’ greatest hits, is launched with an anecdote about how enjoying it dwell used to hassle him, as everybody thought it was a canopy. “Anyway,” he smirks, earlier than launching into the Americana traditional, “right here’s my Eagles cowl.” Half a century into his profession, Jackson Browne proves he’s removed from working on empty.



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