Deep Album Cuts Vol. 27: Jackson Browne

My enjoyment of Jackson Browne, much like my enjoyment of several other dad rock artists, can be traced directly to my own personal dad (I've never felt much urge to rebel against my parents' music -- I like their stuff, I like my generation's stuff, I hope I'll like some of my son's favorite music someday). So appropriately, this past Father's Day I got him tickets to see Jackson Browne at the Hippodrome, and went with him and reviewed the show in August. At the show, he previewed songs from his new album Standing In The Breach, which wasn't released until a few weeks later, and is pretty good. Growing up with the hits and a couple particular albums, the show and the album prompted me to dig deeper into the catalog.

Jackson Browne Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. My Opening Farewell
2. The Road And The Sky
3. The Road
4. Late For The Sky
5. These Days
6. Daddy's Tune
7. Say It Isn't True
8. Lawless Avenues
9. Disco Apocalypse
10. For A Dancer
11. Rosie
12. Ready Or Not
13. Linda Paloma
14. Before The Deluge
15. Song For Adam
16. Sleep's Dark And Silent Gate
17. Of Missing Persons

Tracks 1 and 15 from Jackson Browne (a.k.a. Saturate Before Using) (1972)
Tracks 5 and 12 from For Everyman (1973)
Tracks 2, 4, 10 and 14 from Late For The Sky (1974)
Tracks 6, 13 and 16 from The Pretender (1976)
Tracks 3 and 11 from Running On Empty (1977)
Tracks 9 and 17 from Hold Out (1980)
Track 7 from Lawyers In Love (1983)
Track 8 from Lives In The Balance (1986)

Sometimes, when an artist's career spans a few decades, I restrict myself to a particular period just for the sake of trying to fit the best possible stuff into my self-imposed faux compact disc 80 minute time limit. In Browne's case, it was easy enough: he's been making albums for over 40 years, but I cut things off after Lives In The Balance, which contained his last Hot 100 hit (the sublime "In The Shape Of A Heart"). After all, the idea of this series is to celebrate the deep cuts overlooked on albums known for hit singles, and this way I get to focus on Browne's '70s peak with a light dip into his '80s work.

His Reagan era work suffered a bit from two things that befell a lot of his contemporaries -- glossy gated snare production trends, and a turn towards stridently political songwriting. Still, there's some interesting stuff from those years -- I never would've imagined that Jackson Browne wrote a song a song called "Disco Apocalypse," much less that it's a really good song. "Say It Isn't True" has a cheeseball spoken word section, but the main riff is too stately and gorgeous to deny.

The '70s stuff is where it's really at, though, obviously. Previously I was primarily familiar with the first album (ostensibly self-titled but popularly known as Saturate Before Using because of the humorous label on the cover) and The Pretender. But one early album I'd never heard before, the one that had no charting hits, is Late For The Sky, which I didn't realize was a fan favorite. Browne played three deep cuts from it at the Hippodrome show (all on this playlist, along with "The Road And The Sky").

Another thing that I noted in my show review was that he played a lot of Warren Zevon covers at the show (and of course, was good friends with Zevon and produced some of his albums). And while Zevon had more of a dark, satirical sensibility, you do get Browne's sense of humor here and there on songs like "Rosie" and "Ready Or Not." Even though the stereotype of Browne as a gentle piano-playing balladeer is mostly accurate, I think he's a much more interesting character than that. There's nobody else in the world who can say they wrote one of The Eagles' signature songs as well as one of Nico's signature songs (and both her "These Days" and his version, included here, are sublime for different reasons).

But for the most part Jackson Browne is great for those somber, emotional songs. I ended the playlist with a trio of songs dealing with death. "Song For Adam" was about his friend Adam Saylor. "Sleep's Dark And Silent Gate" is one of several touching songs written about Browne's first wife, who committed suicide. And "Of Missing Persons" is about one of my musical heroes, Lowell George, addressed to his daughter Inara George, written just after the Little Feat frontman's death (with a title taken from the lyrics of Feat's "Long Distance Love").

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
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