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Jackson Browne

April 2004

His first wife committed suicide and his four-year relationship with Daryl Hannah ended in a painful public split.
But Jackson Browne has something else on his mind. And for 45 minutes it’s all he talks about.
No doubt you’ll hear about it tomorrow night if you’re going along to see the Californian folk-based singer-songwriter, a contemporary of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, play a solo acoustic show at the Royal Concert Hall.
His focus will still be on the presidential elections next week.
So who does he think will win?
“I have hope that the election will unseat this president.”
He won’t commit.
Browne is in Barcelona at his retreat apartment, following a series of shows with REM, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young across the USA, trying to get voters to side with Democrat John Kerry.
“There are so many people that are grateful for a chance to express their opposition to what this government have done.”
Can’t they do that anyway? Freedom of speech and all that? Newspapers, other media?
“The problem is that the media is very much aligned to... very much co-operates with the Press statements the administration markets. They’re very much in step with them and will go to great lengths to downplay any opposition to it. And co-operate with the attempts to make people be seen as disloyal if they oppose any particular policy. Especially the war.
“It’s been that way for a long time.
“It has to do with the advent of Fox Television and Rupert Murdoch and the Clear Channel monopoly on radio and concert venues.”
He’s also despairing of the general US populous for allowing it to happen.
“People are hypnotised by monster truck rallies and World Wide Wrestling and reality television and what’s going to happen next with Bennifer (Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez).”
His concert buddies, he says, have been referring to the up-and-coming election as “an emergency”.
“It’s a case that they aren’t able to sit silently by while these decisions are made.”
It’s not just the war in Iraq that prompted celeb rockers to get together.
“Pre-emptive war maybe typifies the most dire aspect of it. We’re going to go to war because of what you might do, is the most dangerous thought you can have. But there are all kinds of things to do with domestic policy and allowing corporations to have practically unlimited...” he goes on.
He’s passionate and knowledgeable and talks in great detail about the political landscape of his home country. And he can’t stop. When the time’s up I’ve missed out on the usual diet of personal tittle tattle, which is a shame.
Browne makes no apology for it.
He was the same 20 years ago when his social conscience was reflected in his music and his popularity dipped.
Browne was born in Heidelberg, West Germany, his family moving to Los Angeles when he was three years old. From the local folk scene during the mid-60s he graduated to national tours with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band then with Tim Buckley’s backing band.
It was while in Greenwich Village that he began dating Nico, who recorded three of his songs on her Chelsea Girl album.
When their relationship disintegrated in 1968, he returned to Los Angeles and wrote for Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds and The Eagles.
His solo career began in 1972, although his breakthrough album The Pretender came four years later, just after the suicide of his first wife.
Succeeding albums Running on Empty, Hold Out and Somebody’s Baby followed it into the chart.
New-found social concerns meant 1989’s World In Motion was his first album not to go gold.
It was after further personal trauma when his relationship with Daryl Hannah ended that he returned to form with his I’m Alive set of 1993.
This tour — it will be his first visit to the city — ties in with a release a his “best of” album (which you can win on page 14).
He knows that a Kerry win won’t be the answer to America’s/the world’s problems.
But it’ll get rid of George W. Bush. And that’ll do for now.
“His fundamentalist Christian beliefs give him permission to not be very sophisticated and to say: ‘Well, I might not know about all that but I do know what my God tells me. And my God tells me to fight evil.”

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