Jackson Browne (born October 9, 1948) is an influential American singer-songwriter. He was born in Heidelberg, Germany, but moved to Los Angeles, California, at an early age and began singing folk music locally. In 1966, his career began by joining The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
A precociously talented songwriter, Browne signed a publishing contract with Nina Music, and his songs were performed by Tom Rush, The Eagles
, Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds
and Steve Noonan, among others.
After moving to Greenwich Village, New York, Browne worked, for a brief period, in Tim Buckley's back-up band and on Nico's Chelsea Girl
. After leaving New York City, Browne formed a folk band with Ned Doheney and Jack Wilce.
In 1971, Browne signed with Asylum Records and released Jackson Browne
(1972), which included "Doctor My Eyes," a major hit. He didn't sustain pop success, though, and his next album, For Everyman
(1973) while considered of high quality was a commercial failure.Late for the Sky
(1974) established a significant audience for Browne, and fans and critics often consider this Browne's best album. Highlights include the searching title song, the elegiac "For a Dancer" and apocalyptic "Before the Deluge," the pure arrangements featuring David Lindley's evocative violin and guitar playing, and the Magritte-inspired cover. The title track was also featured in Martin Scorcese's film, Taxi Driver
Browne released his breakthrough album, The Pretender
(1976) soon after the suicide of his wife. Featuring livelier production by Jon Landau, the title song is Browne's magnum opus, a vividly described account of romanticism in a possibly losing battle with the realities of day-to-day life.
Browne began recording his next LP while on tour, and Running on Empty
(1978) was an even bigger success. Breaking the usual conventions for a live album, it was truly made on the road, including tracks recorded on buses and in hotel rooms, with none of the songs having appeared on any of his prior albums. Running on Empty
contains many renowned songs, such as the propulsive title track (Browne's biggest hit single), "The Road," "Rosie," and "The Load-Out/Stay" (Browne's affectionate and knowing send-off to his concert audiences).
Browne achieved less critical acclaim with Hold Out
(1980), although it was commercially successful, as was his hit single "Somebody's Baby" from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High
soundtrack. Lawyers in Love
followed in 1983 and contained hints of a more political focus, especially in the mysteriously satirical title track.
Political protest came out full force in Lives in the Balance
(1986), an overt condemnation of Reaganism and American policy in Central America. Flavored with new instrumental textures, it was a huge success with Browne fans, though not with mainstream audiences. World in Motion
(1989) was even more politically-oriented and polarizing. After four years of silence and a break-up with his girlfriend, Browne returned with I'm Alive
, a critically acclaimed album with a more personal perspective that had no hits but still sold respectably. Looking East
(1996) was released soon after, but was not as successful critically or commercially.
Jackson's thirteenth album, The Naked Ride Home
, was released in September 2002- his first album of all new songs since the 1996 release, Looking East
. At once poetic and elegant, whimsical and heart-rending, spiritual and sad, the music on The Naked Ride Home
catalogs the human condition with a grace and brilliance that have become trademarks of Jackson's work.
Produced by Jackson Browne and Kevin McCormick and mixed by Bob Clearmountain, The Naked Ride Home
stands as the most eclectic album of Jackson's 30-year career. Showing the confidence and poise of an artist who has outlasted the trends and continually beaten the odds, Jackson handles everything that comes his way on the new album with finesse and ease.
The album, recorded in Los Angeles, has an intimate, live feel, which perfectly captures the mood of the material. The band includes Mark Goldenberg on electric guitar, Mauricio Lewak on drums, Kevin McCormick on bass, and Jeff Young on Hammond organ, piano and harmony vocals. Jackson Browne plays acoustic and electric guitars, and piano.
In February 2002, Jackson became the fourth recipient of the John Steinbeck Award during the centennial celebration of the California writer's birth. The honor is bestowed to artists whose works best exemplify the environmental and social values of Steinbeck. The singer-songwriter joins a selective group that now includes filmmaker John Sayles, playwright Arthur Miller, musician Bruce Springsteen, and actor/author Studs Terkel.
In 2004, Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
. He also received an honorary Doctorate of Music from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and released The Very Best of Jackson Browne
, featuring 32 songs that span his entire career. While by no means comprehensive, the collection of songs is a testament to the singer/songwriter-a man who cares as deeply about the human condition as he does about making unforgettable music.
"Everything in life is colored by your personality," Steinbeck once wrote. "But as you mature you become more aware of outside things, less concerned about yourself."
In that regard, Jackson Browne has been a fully matured artist - and human - for decades. No artist in modern times has consistently shown as much awareness and concern for "outside things" as Jackson Browne.