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Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne in concert, March 2008
Background information
Birth name Clyde Jackson Browne
Born October 9, 1948 (1948-10-09) (age 61)
Heidelberg, Germany
Genres Rock, folk, country
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician, political activist
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1966—present
Labels Elektra Records
Adrenaline Music Group
Inside Recordings
Asylum Records
Associated acts Warren Zevon, David Lindley, Waddy Wachtel, Bonnie Raitt, Clarence Clemons, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt

Clyde Jackson Browne (born October 9, 1948 in Heidelberg, Germany) is an American rock singer-songwriter and musician. His political interest and personal angst have been central to his career, resulting in popular songs such as "Somebody's Baby", "These Days", "The Pretender" and "Running On Empty". In 2004, Browne was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his friend Bruce Springsteen. The same year, Browne received an honorary Doctorate of Music from Los Angeles' Occidental College for "a remarkable musical career that has successfully combined an intensely personal artistry with a broader vision of social change and justice".[1]



Early life and songwriter for others

Browne was born in Heidelberg, Germany, where his father, an American serviceman, was stationed. Browne's mother, Beatrice Amanda (née Dahl), was a Minnesota native of Norwegian ancestry.[2] Browne has three siblings: Roberta "Berbie" Browne who was born during 1946 in Nuremberg, Germany (Nuernberg) and Edward Severin Browne who was born during 1949 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His younger sister, Gracie Browne, was born a number of years later.[2] Browne moved to the Highland Park district of Los Angeles, California, at the age of 3 and in his teens began singing folk music in local venues like the Ash Grove. He attended Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, California, graduating in 1966. That same year, he joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Browne signed a publishing contract with Nina Music, and his songs were performed by Joan Baez, Tom Rush, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, the Byrds, Steve Noonan, and others. After moving to Greenwich Village, New York, Browne was briefly in Tim Buckley's back-up band. In 1967 Browne was romantically linked to Nico of the Velvet Underground. He added to her album, Chelsea Girl, playing guitar on her version of one of Browne's earliest songs, which he wrote in high school; "These Days". After leaving New York City, Browne formed a folk band with Ned Doheny and Jack Wilce, and settled in Southern California.

Classic personal period

In 1971, Browne signed with Asylum Records and released Jackson Browne (1972), which included the piano-driven "Doctor My Eyes", which entered the Top Ten in the US singles chart. "Rock Me on the Water", from the same album, also gained considerable radio airplay, while "Jamaica Say You Will" and "Song for Adam" helped establish Browne's reputation. Touring to promote the album, he shared the bill with Linda Ronstadt.

His next album, For Everyman (1973) — while considered of high quality — was less successful than his debut album, although it still sold a million copies. The upbeat "Take It Easy", co-written with The Eagles' Glenn Frey, had already been a major success for that group, while his own recording of "These Days" represented Browne's angst.

Late for the Sky (1974) consolidated Browne's following. It featured a Magritte-inspired cover. Highlights included the title song, the elegiac "For a Dancer" and "Before the Deluge". The arrangements featured the violin and guitar of David Lindley, Jai Winding's piano, and the harmonies of Doug Haywood. The title track was also featured in Martin Scorsese's film Taxi Driver. Around this time, Browne began his fractious but lifelong professional relationship with singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, mentoring Zevon's first two Asylum albums through the studio as a producer after browbeating Asylum head David Geffen into giving Zevon a recording contract.

Browne's character was even more apparent in his next album, The Pretender. It was released during 1976, after the suicide of his first wife, Phyllis Major. The album features production by Jon Landau and a mixture of styles, ranging from the Mariachi-inspired "Linda Paloma" to the country-driven "Your Bright Baby Blues" to the downbeat "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate". "Here Come Those Tears Again" was cowritten with Nancy Farnsworth, the mother of Browne's wife, after the untimely death of her daughter.

By then, Browne's work had gained a reputation for its compelling melodies, insightful lyrics, and a flair for composition.

Browne began recording his next LP while on tour, and Running on Empty (1977) became his biggest commercial success. Breaking the usual conventions for a live album, Browne used all new material and combined live concert performances with recordings made on buses, in hotel rooms, and back stage. Running on Empty contains many of his most popular songs, such as the title track, "The Road" (written and recorded in 1972 by Danny O'Keefe), "Rosie", and "The Load-Out/Stay" (Browne's send-off to his concert audiences and roadies).

Personal life

Browne and Hannah, 1988

Browne has been married twice and has two children. His first wife was actress/model Phyllis Major (1973-1976). The two began their relationship around 1971, as artistically memorialized in the song "Ready or Not". Their son, Ethan Zane, was born in 1973. Major and Browne married in late 1975. He was devastated when she committed suicide by consuming an overdose of sleeping pills just a few months later, in March 1976, at the age of 30.

Browne was married in January 1981 to Australian model Lynne Sweeney with whom he had a second son, Ryan Daniel, born in 1982. Browne and Sweeney were divorced in 1983, when he began dating actress Daryl Hannah. The relationship with Hannah ended in 1992. He has been with artist Dianna Cohen since the mid 1990s.

Turning political

Soon after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident during March 1979, Browne joined with several musician-friends to found the anti-nuclear organization Musicians United for Safe Energy. He was arrested protesting the Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo. His next album, Hold Out (1980), was commercially successful — his only number 1 record on the U.S. pop albums chart. The next year he released the single "Somebody's Baby" from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack, which became his biggest hit, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The 1983 Lawyers in Love followed, signaling a discernible change from the personal to the political in his lyrics.

Political protest came to the fore in Browne's music in the 1986 album, Lives in the Balance, an explicit condemnation of Reaganism and U.S. policy in Central America. Flavored with new instrumental textures, it was a huge success with many Browne fans, though not with mainstream audiences. The title track, "Lives in the Balance", with its Andean pan pipes — and lines like, "There's a shadow on the faces / Of the men who fan the flames / Of the wars that are fought in places / Where we can't even say the names" — was an outcry against U.S.-backed wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The song was used at several points in the award-winning 1987 PBS documentary, The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis, by journalist Bill Moyers, and was part of the soundtrack of Stone's War, a 1986 Miami Vice episode focusing on American involvement in Central America.

During the 1980s, Browne performed frequently at benefit concerts for causes he believed in, including Farm Aid; Amnesty International (making several appearances on the 1986 A Conspiracy of Hope Tour); post-Somoza, revolutionary Nicaragua; and the Christic Institute. The album, World in Motion, released during 1989 contains a remarkable cover of Steve Van Zandt's "I am a Patriot," a song which he has performed at numerous concerts.

During 1995, he performed in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True a musical performance of the popular story at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT), and issued on CD and video in 1996.

Environmental Activism

Browne founded Musicians United for Safe Energy along with Bonnie Raitt in the 1970s.[3] According to out-spoken environmental activist, Ed Begley, Jr., “He’s got this big wind turbine, and his ranch is completely off the [power] grid,” Begley said. “He’s done all of it himself”.[4][5][6]

From the 1990s - 2002

In 1993, four years after his previous album, Browne returned with I'm Alive, a critically acclaimed album with a more personal style that did not have any successful singles but still sold respectably — indeed, the ninth track from the album, Sky Blue and Black, was used during the pilot episode of the situation comedy Friends. He sang a duet with Jann Arden, "Unloved", on her 1995 album Living Under June. Browne's Looking East (1996) was released soon after, but was not as successful commercially.

2000 to the present

Browne released his album The Naked Ride Home in 2002, with a performance on Austin City Limits, featuring the recording with older, familiar songs.

During 2003, Browne guest-starred as himself in The Simpsons episode "Brake My Wife, Please", performing a parody of his song "Rosie" with lyrics altered to reference the plot involving Homer and Marge.

In 2004, Browne was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bruce Springsteen gave the induction speech,[7] commenting to Browne that although the Eagles were inducted first, he said, "You wrote the songs they wished they had written". Browne had written an uncounted number of hit songs that many artists, including the Eagles, and Springsteen himself had recorded over the span of his career. The previous year, three of Browne's albums — For Everyman, Late for the Sky, and The Pretender — had been selected by Rolling Stone magazine as among its choices for the 500 best albums of all time.

Jackson Browne campaigning for Presidential candidate John Edwards at a fundraising event in 2008

Browne appeared in several rallies for presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 2000, singing "I Am a Patriot" and other songs. He participated in the Vote for Change tour during October 2004, playing a series of concerts in American swing states. These concerts were organized by to mobilize people to vote for John Kerry in the presidential election. Browne appeared with Bonnie Raitt and Keb' Mo', and once with Bruce Springsteen. During late 2006, Browne performed with Michael Stanley and J. D. Souther at a fundraiser for Democratic candidates in Ohio. For the 2008 Presidential Election, he endorsed John Edwards for the Democratic Presidential Nomination and performed at some of Edwards' appearances.

Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1, was released in 2005 on Inside Recordings. The album consists of live recordings of eleven previously released tracks and "The Birds of St. Marks", a song that does not appear on any of Browne's studio albums. This album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2007 in the category of Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album.

Browne is part of the No Nukes group which is against the expansion of nuclear power. During 2007, the group recorded a music video of a new version of the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth".[8][9]

A live album, Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2, was released on March 4, 2008.

Browne acted in the 2007 film, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story[10].

Browne's new studio album, Time The Conqueror, was released September 23, 2008 via Inside Recordings, his first studio album with new songs in six years, all written by Browne, save three song co-written with several of his longtime band members since ending his relationship with longtime distributor Elektra Records in 2003. The album reached the Billboard 200 album chart at #20, which was his first top 20 record since releasing Lawyers in Love in 1983. In addition, the album peaked at #2 on the Billboard Independent Album chart.[11]

During August 2008, Browne sued John McCain, the Ohio Republican Party, and the Republican National Committee for using his 1977 hit, "Running on Empty", in an attack advertisement against Barack Obama without his permission.[12] In July 2009, the matter was settled under an undisclosed financial agreement with an apology from the McCain campaign and other parties.[13]

During August 2008, he appeared on the ALMA Awards in a taped interview honoring Trailblazer Award recipient and long time friend, Linda Ronstadt.


In 2008, Browne contributed to the album Songs for Tibet, an initiative to support Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, and to publicize the human rights situation in Tibet. The album was issued on August 5 via iTunes and on August 19 in music stores around the world.[14]

Browne covered John Lennon's "Oh My Love" to benefit Amnesty International's campaign to alleviate the crisis in Darfur. The song appears on the album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, which was released on June 12, 2007 and features many other prominent artists performing other Lennon covers, such as R.E.M., Jack Johnson, U2, Avril Lavigne, Green Day, and the Black Eyed Peas.

Browne covered Lowen & Navarro's "Weight of the World" on "Keep The Light Alive: Celebrating The Music of Lowen & Navarro". The proceeds of the album benefit The Eric Lowen Trust, ALS Association Greater Los Angeles, and Augie's Quest.

Browne also held in benefit conert for the Rory David Deutsch Foundation which is a charity organization that is dedicated to providing funding for brain tumor research and treatment.


On March 14, 2004, Browne was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Bruce Springsteen.[15]

For "promoting peace and justice through his music and his unrelenting support for that which promotes nonviolent solutions to problems both nationally and internationally", Browne received the Courage of Conscience Awards from The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts.[16]


See Jackson Browne discography


  1. ^ "Jackson Browne :: Biography". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  2. ^ a b Paris, Russ. "Jackson Browne — Biography". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Off-Grid - life unplugged: solar, wind, hydro, architecture, smallholdings, free stuff » Jackson Browne’s off-grid ranch
  5. ^ Living with Ed - Hit TV Series
  6. ^ Harvey Wasserman: No-Nukers Sing a New Green Tune
  7. ^ "Jackson Browne — Rock And Roll Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  8. ^ Daniel (2007-10-12). "2For What It’s Worth", No Nukes Reunite After Thirty Years". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  9. ^ Mariotte, Michael (2007-10-12). "Support Musicians Acting to Stop New Reactors; New Info on Loan Guarantees/Energy Bill". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  10. ^ IMDB: Walk Hard - Cast list
  11. ^ "Jackson Browne - Time the Conqueror". Time the Conqueror. 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  12. ^ Cohen, Jonathan. Jackson Browne Sues McCain Over Song Usage. Billboard, 2008-08-14.
  13. ^ Graff, Gary (July 21, 2009). "Jackson Browne, Republicans Settle Copyright Case". Billboard. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  14. ^ E-Online (July 22, 2008) Sting, Matthews, Mayer Gamer for Tibet Than Beijing
  15. ^
  16. ^ "The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Recipients List". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote


Clyde Jackson Browne (born 1948-10-09) is an American musician and singer-songwriter.



Song Lyrics

  • If I seem to be afraid
    To live the life that I have made in song
    Well it's just because I've been losing for so long.
  • These days I sit on cornerstones
    And count the times in stepping stones to ten, my friend
    Don't confront me with my failures
    I have not forgotten them.
  • Well I'm running down the road
    Tryin' loosen my load,
    I've got seven women on my mind,
    Four that wanna own me,
    Two that wanna stone me,
    One says she's a friend of mine.
  • Don't let the sound of your own wheels
    Drive your crazy.
  • Well, I'm a standing on a corner
    In Winslow, Arizona
    And such a fine sight to see,
    It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford
    Slowin' down to take a look at me.
  • Make it on your own if you think you can.
    If you see somewhere to go, I understand.
    • For Everyman, from For Everyman (1973)
  • Into a dancer you have grown from the seeds somebody else has sown
    • For a Dancer
  • Out into the cool of the evening strolls the pretender. He knows that all his hopes and dreams begin and end there.
  • I'm Gonna be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender. Where the ads take aim and lay their claim in the heart and the soul of the spender. And believe in whatever may lie in those things that money can't buy, though true love could have been a contender

Are you there? say a prayer for the pretender
who started out so young and strong only to surrender The Pretender (1976)

  • I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through.
    Looking into their eyes I see them running too.
    • Running on Empty

Further Quotations

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