We may lose and we may win
but we will never be here again
He was young and impossibly fresh-faced and adorable when he came to our attention in the early 1970s, part of the Laurel Canyon, Calif. band of musicians that defined that certain country-tinged rock. The Eagles, Linda Rondstadt, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, JD Souther, so many more. Jackson Browne was born a poet, writing beautiful, evocative poems and lyrics even in his teens, long before he had the life experience to back the words up.
Jackson Browne is an old soul.
He’s a deep thinker and his beautiful music reflects that. Those lyrics. Those lyrics!
I’ve loved him and his music for decades and have seen him in concert maybe four or five times in the past 40 years. I love that he uses his music and his celebrity to support causes he believes in. His benefit concerts have supported environmental organizations, no-nukes, mental health, the homeless and a whole host of progressive causes. So he’s not just Jackson Browne to me. He’s JACKSON BROWNE.
He’s older now, not the fresh-faced poet, lyricist, songwriter but still a poet, lyricist and songwriter who can hold an audience spellbound in concert.
So when I had the chance to get second row center tickets to a Jackson Browne concert, I grabbed it.
Looking around the venue, the first thing I noticed was the sea of grey hair in the audience. It’s hard to wrap my own strawberry-blonde head around the idea that most of us have been listening to Jackson’s music for almost 50 years. Fifty years! And he is almost 68. How could it be? I remember the 1970s so vividly, could they have been so long ago?
The sisters of the sun
are going to rock me on the water now
And then, he took the stage, that shock of brown hair greying a bit now but with the same magic he’s always had. He opened with Rock Me on the Water, a favorite of mine.
Except for the usual drunks screaming out song requests, it was a mostly quiet respectful crowd, there for the music, because his songs require actually listening to the words and being carried somewhere else by the melody.
Unlike other concerts, I only enjoyed the aroma of fine weed at intermission and wish someone had passed some my way. But then I remembered: we’re in the 21st century now and there’s not much passing going on.
And there are the other realities of our age: I noticed a guy sitting in front of me had earplugs in. I had them sort of in, too, just a little, because a few years ago I temporarily lost my hearing and I’m not interested in having that experience again.
Then, I heard the guy behind me say, as he removed his own earplugs at intermission, “I’d like to be able to hear when this is over.” Funny how things change in 50 years.
Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong
was I unwise
to keep them open for so long?
By mid-concert, Jackson had begun to really rock. No one could sit still when he did the infectious Doctor My Eyes, although most of us remained seated, maybe a nod to our age. Still, there was a lot of chair-dancing in the crowd. A lot. I thought about getting up to dance, and since I’ve been in physical therapy for hip bursitis I decided not to risk it.
Did you know he wrote the Eagles hit, Take it Easy? and usually asks the crowd to sing it with him, which is way fun. And of course, at the end, Running on Empty.
By that point I couldn’t sit still, I defy anyone to sit still for that song–the hell with bursitis, I got up–we ALL got up–we were all on our feet singing and dancing and laughing. And when it came to the finale, he gave us another go at Running on Empty and by that point, the entire place was on their feet and rocking–dancing for the sheer joy of it all. I was among them. It was an exhilarating finale, a joyful end to what might have been the best of his concerts, at least to me. Here’s a little bit of it:
So–do you have a favorite Jackson Browne song or lyric?