I saw Jackson Browne at the Beacon Theater tonight.
He’s kind of my hero.
Lots of people think that’s pretty lame of me. But they’ve clearly never heard his first five albums in their entirety.
Most everything he wrote post-1980 is either highly-politicized or slightly-sappy, but I still love it to death. Because of those first five albums.
They’re are absolutely incredible. And “Doctor My Eyes,” “The Pretender,” and “Running On Empty” are the worst of it. (Okay, fine, “Linda Paloma” is the worst, but the point is, you’ve probably never heard his best.)
Try “These Days.” You’ve probably heard it before. He wrote it.
Try “Sing My Songs To Me,” but only if you let it lead into “For Everyman” the way it’s supposed to.
Try “The Late Show,” which has a slow start, but an absolutely killer ending that will leave you a Clyde Jackson Browne fan for life.
Try “Something Fine” or “Looking Into You” or “Rock Me On The Water.” You can’t go wrong.
But you must — must must must — try “For A Dancer,” which is my favorite song of all time, and which he sang tonight upon request.
He has taken crowd requests in every single concert of his that I’ve been to (tonight’s was #4, and a very important one for me, being as that it finally defeated my previous repeat concert record: 3 Styx shows I proudly attended in high school and have been trying to forget ever since), and his shows aren’t exactly set up for crowd participation. He just does it out of the goodness of his heart.
Tonight everyone wanted to hear “For A Dancer,” and he played it. It’s the best song I know, and it’s probably the best you’d know, too, if you knew it. Hopefully, you do.
Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
Go on and make a joyful sound
This song–lyrics, music, and all–sum up my personal worldview in a way that no other piece of art or culture has ever been able to do. And I’m a pretty voracious reader and museum visitor. It’s like he peered into my brain and wrote a song with whatever muddled thoughts he found there. Of course, he did this brain-peering about 10 years before I was born, but still.
You gotta listen to it. And go to a show. And, when you go, at the end of the night, after the encore, after his version of “Take It Easy” (yeah, he wrote that, too), he’ll most definitely urge you to do something seemingly simple, but dreadfully difficult and life-stakingly important: “Take care of each other.”
He says it every time.
Damn good advice.
I’m not sure it’s advice he’s taken for himself throughout his own life. But sometimes failures are the best people to take advice from.
Anyways, I’ll cry the day he dies. I can’t say that about many musicians or artists or authors or celebrities of any kind. But I will most definitely cry the day he dies. Sure, I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me, and it’s probably weird to cry for people you don’t know, but he writes in a way that reveals that he understands my human condition.
He could be a mediocre human being at best, I don’t know. But his music shows me that my aching and striving and yearning and wonder are experienced by at least one other inhabitant of this shitshow. Sometimes that knowledge is enough to get me through the day.
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Understanding?
And what of the understanding that comes in the form of the distant, but home-hitting art of a complete stranger? That feels like understanding, too. And it is valid. Without it, there wouldn’t be Comic-Con.
We’re humans. We’re made to relate. Of course, we’ll benefit more from the understanding of a dear and present friend. But, there is validity to the shared understanding of the human condition, even when the understanding comes from those who are not aware that we exist.
What are heroes if not those who try to save us from our plight? And how better to save than to understand?
Jackson Browne sings of that which I have felt and experienced. He understands. I am glad he understands.
He shows me that making an impact is quite simple. Taking care of others is quite simple. Simply share yourself and your experiences, and others will relate and feel understood. And cared for.
Take care of each other.
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know
Streets Walked: Home to Park Ave. to 86th St. to 3rd Ave. to 86th St. to 5th Ave. to 86th St. Transverse to Central Park West to 75th St. to Broadway to 75th St. to Amsterdam to 110th St. to 5th Ave. to 118th St. to Home