Jackson Browne 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 inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2004) and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame (2007).
His latest release, 2010's Love Is Strange, produced by Browne and Paul Dieter, features longtime friend and musical co-conspirator David Lindley. The two-CD live album-on Browne's label, Inside Recordings-presents highlights from a tour of Spain that he and Lindley played in 2006, in grand concert halls, rock venues, and intimate clubs.
The recordings are "en vivo"-live "con Tino"-with celebrated Spanish percussionist Tino di Geraldo, and guest players and vocalists from Spain. "En vivo con Tino" is somewhat of a play on words; it also means to do something cleverly. The track-list spotlights songs from throughout Browne's career including "I'm Alive," "Take It Easy," "For Everyman," and "Running On Empty." Also featured are two of stringed-instrument virtuoso Lindley's best-known songs, "Mercury Blues" and "El Rayo-X" from the acclaimed 1981 Browne-produced LP of that name.
In liner notes for Love Is Strange, Browne writes of the charmed tour it captures, "It was a flash, as we sometimes used to say in California. A flash in time that went by so effortlessly, and with such pleasure, that I must ask myself if it really happened. But here it is-a CD of some recorded moments, or perhaps a bridge, or a small door, between a life lived mostly in America and time spent with some really good friends in Spain."
This release follows his 2008 studio album Time The Conqueror, also produced by Browne and Paul Dieter. Introducing ten original songs including "Off Of Wonderland," "Just Say Yeah," "The Drums Of War," and "Going Down To Cuba," the album features his longtime band: Kevin McCormick (bass), Mark Goldenberg (guitars), Mauricio Lewak (drums), Jeff Young (keyboards, backing vocals), and newest members, Chavonne Stewart and Alethea Mills, young vocalists he met in 2001 when they were attending Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles, singing in the school choir.
Previously, Browne released two live albums recorded at dates on solo acoustic tours in the U. S., the U. K. and Australia. The GRAMMY®-nominated Jackson Browne - Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1 ('05) and Jackson Browne - Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2 ('08), both on Inside Recordings, feature Browne alternately on piano and guitar, performing a career spanning selection of songs. Both volumes also capture lively exchanges between Jackson and his fans. In his four-star review of Vol. 2 for Rolling Stone, Anthony DeCurtis wrote, "This is Browne at his best, engaging his audience, his own experiences and the world around him, all in songs that will not lose their resonance any time soon."
That feeling radiates through Vol. 2 and songs including "Something Fine" and "Redneck Friend," (from Browne's '72 self-titled debut), The Naked Ride Home's "Casino Nation" (for which Browne recently produced a video) and the 1982 Top 10 hit "Somebody's Baby," originally featured on the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack. Highlights from Vol. 1 include the recording debut of "The Birds Of St. Marks," a previously unrecorded song dating back to the 1960s.
Tracing the roots of Browne's career leads back to the mid-60s and Los Angeles and Orange County folk clubs. Born in Germany to American parents, Jackson's family returned to Los Angeles when he was three. Except for a brief period in NYC in the late 1960s - when he was an integral presence in the coffeehouse scene there - he has always lived in Southern California.
Jackson Browne, his debut album, came out on David Geffen's Asylum Records in 1972. Rolling Stone wrote in its original review that, "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." 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 1973 follow-up, For Everyman, included "These Days" and "Take It Easy," co-written with Glenn Frey (it been The Eagles' debut single and breakthrough hit the year before). 1974's Late For The Sky - cited by Rolling Stone that year as one of the "100 Best Albums," 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 Browne's masterpiece of lyrical introspection, with classic songs including "Fountain Of Sorrow," "The Late Show" and the title track. 1976's The Pretender also made Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time," and was Browne's first to chart in Billboard's Top 10, peaking at #5. On the heels of that success came what stands as Jackson's top-selling album, 1977's 7X platinum, life-on-the-road concept opus, Running On Empty.
Browne's next project was the all-star series of concerts organized by Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, John Hall and Jackson in 1979 to benefit MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy). In addition to serving on the board of MUSE, Jackson helped edit and compile 1980's 3-LP live album from those shows. No Nukes/The MUSE Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future featured a line-up including Bruce Springsteen, The Doobie Brothers, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Ry Cooder, Chaka Khan, Peter Tosh, and Tom Petty, among others. The album, which includes Jackson's "Before The Deluge," climbed to #23 on Billboard's pop chart, a major feat for a triple album. Currently, Browne, Raitt and Nash are mobilizing behind Nukefree.org, opposing federal bail-out of the nuclear industry.
Jackson's studio discography continued with 1980's Hold Out, a #1 album, featuring the hits "Boulevard" and "That Girl Could Sing." In 1982, Browne scored a #7 hit with the single "Somebody's Baby," from the Soundtrack for Fast Times at Ridgemont High. 1983's Lawyers In Love also delivered several popular singles, including "Tender Is The Night" and "For A Rocker."
In 1986, Jackson continued to develop his social focus with Lives In The Balance. This topical disc was included in Rolling Stone's 1986 list of '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 in 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 1996's Looking East, he addresses various aspects of personal growth and social struggle, and their interconnectedness in the world around him.
2002 marked the release of The Naked Ride Home, Jackson's first suite of all new songs since Looking East. 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 2008, he received the NARM Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award; and, in 2007, he received the Chapin-World Hunger Year Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award. In 2004, Jackson was named an honorary Doctorate of Music by Occidental College in Los Angeles, for "a remarkable musical career that has successfully combined an intensely personal artistry with a broader vision of social justice." In 2002, he was the fourth recipient of the John Steinbeck Award, given to artists whose works exemplify the environmental and social values that were essential to the great California-born author.