Saturday, November 29, 2008

After 31 years...

I've always been a big Jackson Browne fan, starting when I was 14 and Running on Empty was released. It was one of the first albums I bought when I started buying albums with my own money.

For all you youngsters out there, it was recorded live in venues from concert halls to hotel rooms to the tour bus. At a time when live albums featured re-hashed greatest hits with mistakes overdubbed in the studio, Running on Empty was unique in that all the songs were new and recorded 'as-is'. The one thing about Jackson Browne live is that the musicianship is top-rate...sometimes too perfect, inasmuch as no one seems to make a mistake onstage. Not a bad thing, really, just outside the norm.

Anyway, this tour would have been at the time The Pretender was out, and for Jackson Browne, this would have been a challenging time in his life. Go to Wikipedia to learn why, I'm not a very good biographer.

The opening track, of course, is Running on Empty, and the first 30 seconds or so consists of various shouts from the audience, which, when I was a teenager, meant nothing to me, it was just a bunch of rowdy fans making noise.

At my advanced age, listening now, I realize the shouts were requests for songs such as Ready or Not, Late for the Sky, and Redneck Friend. You can hear an eight count leading up to the song that was in fact performed.

Also at my advanced age, I think about those people at the concert, yelling for their favorite song, and then POW! Running on Empty, the version you hear on the radio, with the great David Lindley lap steel solo and the Danny Kortchmar guitar fills and the beautiful soaring harmony of Rosemary Butler (I had a serious Rosemary Butler obsession in 1980) and of course the message of the song, the ever searching, longing, to find what it is we needed to find ourselves. If the audience only knew. Were they disappointed? Don't know.

Looking around for the friends I used to turn to to pull me through, looking into their eyes, I see them running, too.

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