Time was, I revered Jackson Browne’s music as such as I did that of Bob Dylan or Lou Reed, but while I stayed with theirs, I started to slide from Browne’s after 1977’s Running on Empty, because he seemed to slide a bit too. Then, listening to an interview with him this morning on KCRW, followed by this song, I thought about him in the way I sometimes have thought about old friends. I had close companions that, over the years, I drifted from and lost touch with. It wasn’t as if we had fallings out, but various life events imposed distance and less frequency. Also, new faces and voices moved in—at least for a time.
Still, you may think about the ones you lost and grow curious and miss them. Facebook did a substantial job of restoring many of those relationships, and radio on Tuesday morning reminded me of how exceptional Browne once was in my mind—and in the minds of many. He possessed understanding and intelligence that allowed insights into our own hearts, personally and collectively, as we groped in times that were fading from a seeming light. He has a new album, Downhill from Everywhere, and it too has heart—weathered by age, but no less engaged in knowing the self and the times.
“I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can
“Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?
“’Cause I have wandered through this world
And as each moment has unfurled
I've been waiting to awaken from these dreams
“People go just where they will
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it's later than it seems”
Mikal Gilmore is the author of four books, including the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning memoir Shot in the Heart and the 1960s cultural history Stories Done. He is a longtime writer for Rolling Stone.
These Days (live) ::: Jackson Browne & David Lindley
The Times You’ve Come ::: Jackson Browne
My Opening Farewell ::: Jackson Browne & Bonnie Raitt
Doctor My Eyes (live) ::: Jackson Browne
Fountain of Sorrow (solo) ::: Jackson Browne
Your Bright Baby Blues ::: Jackson Browne & David Lindley
Running On Empty ::: Jackson Browne
Don’t Let Us Get Sick ::: Jackson Browne
Jamaica Say You Will ::: Jackson Browne
The Barricades of Heaven (solo) ::: Jackson Browne
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