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Browne, Jackson

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Browne, Jackson, perhaps the most stimulating and profound male song-poet of the 1970s, established the singer-songwriter genre with subtle, honest songs with romantic, spiritual, or apocalyptic themes; b. Heidelberg, Germany, Oct. 9, 1948.

Exhibiting a feel for both folk and rock music, his compelling sound featured multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, who introduced unusual stringed instruments, including the lap steelguitar, into rock music. A political activist since the late 1970s, Browne possesses a social awareness that came to the forefront in his music with 1986’s Lives in the Balance, addressing the then-current crisis in Nicaragua.

Born in Germany but raised in Los Angeles, Jackson Browne first sang at “hoots” in Orange County in 1966. He wrote his first song in high school and was signed to a songwriting contract by Elektra Records in September 1966, then released. Browne played folk clubs around N.Y. during winter 1967, often accompanying Nico (of Velvet Underground fame) and Tim Buckley. Returning to Los Angeles, he served a brief tenure with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Folk singer Tom Rush became the first major artist to showcase Browne’s songs, recording “Shadow Dream Song” in 1967 and “These Days” in 1968. Browne’s first performing success came in the fall of 1969, when he opened for Linda Ronstadt at the Troubadour Club in Los Angeles. He completed his first concert tour in 1970, opening for Laura Nyro.

By 1971 Jackson Browne had initiated his own recording career with the invaluable assistance of multi-instrumentalist David Lindley (formerly with Kaleidoscope). “Doctor My Eyes” became a smash hit from his debut album, which also contained “Jamaica Say You Will” and “Rock Me on the Water.” During spring 1972 Browne toured with songstress Joni Mitchell, and later that year his song “Take It Easy” (cowritten with Glenn Frey) launched the Eagles on their spectacularly successful career. Coming nearly two years later, his second album included the minor hit “Redneck Friend” as well as his own versions of “Take It Easy” and “These Days.” By 1974 Browne was touring as a headline act with a band formed around David Lindley. Browne’s Late for the Sky album, though yielding no hit single, was his most poignant and penetrating work to date, featuring visions of death, apocalypse, and resigned hope; it contained most notably “Fountain of Sorrow,” “The Late Show,” “For a Dancer,” and “Before the Deluge.”

Another two years elapsed before the release of The Pretender . Although displaying a degree of melodic and rhythmic repetition, the album again included a number of honest and moving songs, from the hit “Here Comes Those Tears Again” to “The Fuse” to the title song.Browne’s next, the live Running on Empty, displayed a wide range of moods and material. This album yielded a near-smash hit with the anthemic title song and a major hit with a remake of Maurice Williams’s 1960 “Stay”

A leader of the antinuclear movement, Jackson Browne helped found MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) in 1979 and was one of the major backers of the No Nukes concert, movie, and album. His 1980 album Hold Out included the major hits “Boulevard” and “That Girl Could Sing” and introduced Browne to the arena-rock crowd. Browne was involved in the production of Warren Zevon’s first two albums and coproduced David Lindley’s album El Rayo X from 1981, the year they parted company. In September 1981 Browne was one of the demonstrators arrested at California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear-power plant.

In 1982 Browne scored a major hit with “Somebody’s Baby” from the Sean Perm film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and the following year he hit with “Tender Is the Night” and the satirical “Lawyers in Love” from his next album of the same title. In 1984 and 1985 he visited Central America to learn more about the turmoil engulfing the region. Browne subsequently became involved with Little Steven (Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band) in Artists United Against Apartheid, while managing a pop hit with “You’re a Friend of Mine,” recorded with Clarence demons. The politically charged Lives in the Balance focused largely on his social concerns, whether foreign or domestic, and yielded two hits, “For America” and “In the Shape of a Heart.”

Browne toured in 1986 and 1988, releasing another collection of socially conscious songs in 1989 on the album World in Motion, including “The Word Justice,” “Anything Can Happen,” and Little Steven’s “I Am a Patriot.” Following his breakup with actress Darryl Hannah in 1992, Browne recorded I’m Alive, an album pervaded with songs of lost love. By this time he was unable to equal his earlier chart success, although his core audience continued to buy his albums and attend his concerts.

Browning, John [next] [back] Browne, Hugh M.(1851–1923) - Educator, civil rights activist, minister, Critiques Liberian Systems and Experiences Controversy

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