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Jackson Browne in Asheville - still soothing the soul of everyman!

Updated on August 17, 2011

Jackson Browne

Dylan for my generation! Saying it like it is & 'keepin' it real'
Dylan for my generation! Saying it like it is & 'keepin' it real'

For Everyman

“Everyone must have some thought that is going to pull them through somehow…” In the Great Smokey Mountains this week, Jackson Browne reminded us how often he has been that thought as he once again sung from the depths of his heart and soul to ours.

Even before the doors opened, anticipation soared as we all found renewed hope on the common ground of how his music has motivated and inspired us, marking the passage of time in our lives. “Of all the musicians through-out the years, he and Joni Mitchell speak for me" exclaimed one gentleman as he waited patiently. Another stated unequivocally that JB was his musical mentor. My own memories swirled endlessly including the many times I’d played his songs as a DJ to set the stage of keeping it real in the early 70s. How many hours had my heart ached listening in my studio as he openly challenged us to keep our love alive despite life’s trials and tribulations? How could I possibly express how much gratitude I feel remembering how he and Van Morrison’s music kept me alive living in a country where I didn’t yet speak the local language?

Jackson and his son Ethan in Australia. Courtesy of Paul Nelson & Rolling Stone magazine
Jackson and his son Ethan in Australia. Courtesy of Paul Nelson & Rolling Stone magazine
Warren Zevon (as above)
Warren Zevon (as above)

For those of you who may not have as many years of tears, or miles of smiles under your belt, Jackson Brown co-wrote the classic “Take It Easy” with Glen Frey of the Eagles in 1972, although that was in the second decade of establishing himself as an incredible songwriter. Close to my heart was Paul Nelson’s article of August 1980 in Rolling Stone when he said, “Why Browne is [so] special is probably a personal thing, but I’ve always suspected that those of us who admire his admittedly autobiographical art, usually find in it more about our own lives – not Jackson’s – than we’d care to convey.”

Ever humble, Jackson meandered unannounced onto a dimly lit stage where 16 guitars and his keyboard rested comfortably. That’s twice as many as even Shawn Phillips used to display, but with Jackson, you could tell it wasn’t for show. Everything about his demeanor insinuated that we had just been honored to join him for a lone jam session as if in his living-room. Starting with the reminder that we’ll be alone when redemption comes and “These Days”, he explained how he wanted to play a Warren Zevon song (around since before Jackson, but oddly unnoticed until 2 years after JB’s “Pretender” success with his album “Excitable Boy”1978) because two of his friends had just died.

I never know what I’m going to play,” he explained after that, as many in the audience grabbed every opportunity to adamantly suggest their own play list. “I’m hearing from some of you who know my older, more obscure songs, to better known hits. At least you’re requesting my songs. For that I’m grateful”.

Has there ever been another who could so easily tweak our heart strings to feel deeply empathetic?

continually moved to make a difference!

Admitting “Rosie” was the saddest song he knew, he obliged the request, then launched into “…free me in the power of your tenderness…”; “keep a fire in your mind…”; “…wait for the tears to fall…”and “Everyman”. After that he made every woman swoon recalling a “blinding sexual encounter” with a lady he hadn’t seen in 35 years but sang a song for her about how we used to give our passions and delights away so freely. Did he know some of us didn’t? Is that why he shifted guitars for a Christmas song? We all smiled when he told us he’d been hanging around with a Mayan Indian at the time that had a serious attitude about Christianity. You could hear he’d written the song so his friend would know he saw all, but still chose to cherish his own faith and belief.

I want to live in the world instead of my head… not behind some wall… to the captain of my doubt – taking the chances as a light… Infinite power of change in the world… To open my eyes and wake up alive in the world… to open my eyes and finally arrive…”

After singing “I’m Alive”, he made us all laugh as he responded to an audience member with “Oh, OK. I will do the ‘naked ride home’. It’s not as creepy as you think it is. Matter of fact, it’s a drinking song.” After that he further thrilled the men’s fantasies with “Take It Easy” then “A Taste of Something Fine” and “Late for the Sky”. Admitting how he was willing to break from tradition, we all chimed in as he sang the “roadie song” (The Load Out/Stay). It was all I could do not to sing “Oh won’t you stay, just a little bit longer…” at the top of my lungs from the mezzanine, but we all heard it clear as day from yesteryear.

Naturally, he reminded how power and position are created by the grace of God before “Pretender”, shared an endearing touch of Paradise and then dug deep into our nature with “Running On Empty” as a last song. We couldn’t let it go at that though – we had to bring him back. Fortunate enough to have him return for two encores, the first of which rings in my ears every time one of life’s “ah-hah” moments hits: “Doctor My Eyes” “…was I unwise to keep them open for so long?”

As far as I can remember, Jackson has been leading the way in speaking out or actively furthering worthy causes with benefits. You don’t have to be chagrined if you missed this particular concert. His website lists his upcoming solo acoustic tour dates and benefits throughout Georgia, Florida, Texas and California. Believe me, even if you have to travel a distance, it will be WELL WORTH your time!

Yummm - are you sure "blinding sexual encounters" are all in the past Jackson? ... too bad

The cause he promoted was one we can all support. He reminded us of how our seeming plastic fetish is taking over our oceans, killing much in the process. He said his tour was entirely plastic free and then soothed our souls completely with “Rock Me On the Water”. “…Oh people look around you. It’s there your hope must lie. We all must do the best we can and hang onto that Gospel power…”

Thank you from the deepest part of our souls Jackson! For many these days, there seems to be an ever-increasing pace of challenging woes facing them. As you said to Anthony DeCurtis a couple of years ago, the train is coming but thanks to you, those of us who have been listening, will continue to do our best and be the change we wish to see in the world. You have been our Dylan dear Sir. Please, don’t give up hope yourself. Let us be the thought that pulls you through - we’ll find a way to farm without harm!


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    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

      Thanks Micky Dee :) How long ago were you in Asheville? Its so gorgeous everywhere, riding is like sailing through heaven :)

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Great post. I used to have a bike shop in Aville. God bless!

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

      Thank you so much SilverGenes! Your comment warms my heart. It's almost always our goal to have the reader feel they were in our story and when it comes to sharing a concert, most definitely. Were he to see what you wrote, Jackson would thank you from the bottom of his heart I'm sure - probably more so for caring about the ocean, but also for bringing his songs back into your life :)

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      Well, you just took me back to a very happy place and it's probably time to get some Jackson Browne into the iTunes library. His caring for the oceans though, is enough to win me over completely. You did a fantastic job on this hub! It was almost as good as being there at the concert :))

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 8 years ago from North America

      Aloha AEvans! So glad you stopped by :) That song is the one dohn was referring to called: "The Load Out/Stay" from the album "Running on Empty". Some in the audience referred to it as the roadie song because it is Jackson's tribute to the crew that sets him up and breaks the stage down. One of the lines in the song is that they work for minimum wage which he gently corrected in this concert by clarifying that they no longer work for that :) It's an awesome song and pure reflection of how we all feel at the end of a great concert - too bad it has to end... The roadies are probably the only ones (well, perhaps the help for the concert halls too) who are tapping their feet impatiently waiting to get to and finish their jobs.

      Jackson was so laid back that it was almost against the atmosphere to give a standing ovation, although I wanted to after each song. For that one however, we all stood up immediately - it was almost habit since he used to play that at the end. Of course, as mentioned, I'm sure there wasn't a person there who didn't hear it with full band playing in our minds too! There are a number of videos on YouTube AE and a shorter version on my hub: (mail)

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 8 years ago from North America

      Back in action to a degree James. With emo's thyroid storm, things have been challenging to say the least. Have to move again - she wants the place to herself so I've decided to lighten my load. Could fill a 4 bedroom home quite easily, including a library :( To bigger and brighter - you might want to ask Ixxy how to get your book off the hard-drive. He's absolutely amazing when it comes to anything on computers! On my way back to GA to have access to the net - will catch you again soon and hopefully have a chance to read all 15 of your new hubs! So glad to chat on here - you too make HP and life sparkle James :)

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      What about this song, " Why don't we stay just a little bit longer". I don't know the exact name but my older sister always played his music and I heard that song over and over again. :)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      I haven't done a thing with my book. I haven't figured out how to transfer files from my old hard drive to the new. I've got 300 pages in there so I don't want to start over. Well, I took a week off for a class at Campus Crusade on Storytelling that I was interesting in learning about (Oral Traditions). Then I went to the Holy Land for two weeks. So, when I got home I had a 3 1/2 week gap of nothing on HP. I have been redeeming the time with 15 Hubs in the 3 weeks since I've been back home.

      I'm glad to see you back in action here. Thanks for your remark about my trip Hub. I think it is time to get your book done.

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 8 years ago from North America

      Sounds like they might have been working too?! Those were the days though yes, when there was a lot of work :) How is your book coming along? Looks like you've been writing a lot on HP. I'm way behind in my reading and looking forward to catching up! Awesome hub on your trip to Israel! Loved it! Thinking I may make the time to revamp and get my book edit/published too. Is it time yet? lol

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      I did not meet him. We sent a jet out on tour with him and he never actually came to our home base. But my father and brother were his rotating captains so they spent quite a bit of time with him. They had all the fun; I did all the work. :-)

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 8 years ago from North America

      Hi James! Thank you so much for your comments, both in being missed and, as an awesome musician yourself, acknowledgement of how incredible Jackson Browne is. I can feel your affinity for the message in Doctor My Eyes too - you have seen and been through much with an intelligent mind and strong resistance to letting it get to you. Did you get to meet him personally while your company jets flew him around? Don't recall a response to that on FB. Glad to see you here instead... and glad to be back :)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      A wonderful tribute to a great artist! Welcome back. You have been missed here. "Doctor My Eyes" is one of my all time favorite songs. What a treat you had to see this concert. Thank you for the always awesome reportage.

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 8 years ago from North America

      An icon indeed dohn! So glad you stopped by and renewed those memories :) That particular song helped me realize most musicians are as passionate about what they sing as we are of writing about beliefs or experiences close to our heart. As always, your passion for life shines through your words dohn.

      Jackson did mention how times have changed saying we're in an age where people expect music to be free (YouTube). He said it was OK for his music (he's already been paid), but wanted us to consider how difficult that makes it for up-and-coming musicians to make a living. The interview with DeCurtis quotes him as saying that his only hope for the future lies in the realization that some are born singing, and thus they may carry on the messages of awareness he feels so adament about. Optimism for our future can be challenging at times - especially politically in the US.

      I'm pretty sure one of the reasons he connects on such a deep level, and brings out most peoples' empathetic nature, is because he himself feels deeply - for others, for the creatures in the sea, and for mother earth... Perhaps he'll join us on HP one day, to regain a little of life's sparkle that exists 'here and now' :) Thanks dohn - for sparkling!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Wow! You are without a doubt passionate about Jackson Browne. I really do like him too as it would be extremely difficult to remember my childhood without hearing one of his songs on the radio. Reading this hub made me go to YouTube just so I could listen to The Load Out/Stay while reading this. He is an absolute icon! Thank you for sharing this one, SEM Pro!


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