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A Rainy Day Soundtrack in Five Jackson Browne Songs

It’s raining today.  It’s April in New England and such things are to be expected.  I set my alarm every night for 6:30 AM, and I’m usually up well before it ever goes off.  This morning I was finishing a dream I don’t recall except that someone was about to speak and as they opened their mouth the alarm went off and it all went away.  Feel free to analyze that if you wish, I’m moving on to other things.  6:30 is sleeping in for me, and I found myself behind the eight ball on my morning routine.

But back to that rain.  It reminded me of this collection of Jackson Browne songs I’ve been collecting in my drafts waiting patiently to fly.  So why not now?  It’s not easy to create a list of only five songs from a writer as prolific as Jackson Browne, I mean, I played the Running on Empty album on repeat for months when I was 17 or so.  That one would be a favorite album, but only one of the songs on it made it onto this list.  I think the rain also impacted my choice of songs, all of which are introspective, forgoing classic hits like Running On Empty, Doctor My Eyes and Somebody’s Baby in favor of deeper water.  Anyway, here are five Jackson Browne songs that are particularly meaningful for me:

You Love The Thunder
“When you look over your shoulder
And you see the life that you’ve left behind
When you think it over, do you ever wonder?
What it is that holds your life so close to mine”
This song, along with The Road and The Load-Out, was a highlight and the one I play frequently from this album.

For A Dancer
“Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
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
That you’ll never know”
Jackson wrote this for a friend who died in a fire, and it’s one of those songs I return to when I think about people full of life taken too soon from this world.

The Pretender
“I want to know what became of the changes
We waited for love to bring
Were they only the fitful dreams
Of some greater awakening?
I’ve been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it’s the wink of an eye
When the morning light comes streaming in
You’ll get up and do it again
If the pandemic is doing anything, it’s pushing people to question the endless cycle of mindless work they do.  If you don’t love your life, change it.  This song is the great reminder of the unfulfilled potential in all of us bursting to get out, if you’ll just stop doing what you think you have to do.

Your Bright Baby Blues
“Baby if you can hear me
Turn down your radio
There’s just one thing

I want you to know
When you’ve been near me
I’ve felt the love
Stirring in my soul”
The link above is a Don Kirchner performance in 1976 where Jackson’s backing band was The Eagles.  I’m old enough to remember a lot about the 70’s, but young enough to have missed most of the craziness happening at the time.  I imagine there was a hell of a party after these guys played this song.

These Days
“These days I’ll sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them”
I understand that Jackson wrote this when he was 16.  Talk about being an old soul at a young age.  I’m a long way from what the lyrics express at the moment, but haven’t we all been here?


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