Triple Played: Music Road Records pays tribute to Jackson Browne

When I was in high school I used to frequently fall asleep listening to Jackson Browne’s “Late for the Sky” LP.

I would make sure to listen with the volume down so I wouldn’t bother my parents and siblings sleeping upstairs. I liked it when I could fall asleep before the record stopped so I wouldn’t have to get up and turn it over.

I discovered Browne with his fist album, “Saturate Before Using.” I liked it so much that I bought “For Everyman” when it came out in 1973 followed by “Late for the Sky” in 1974.

Browne followed those three great recordings with the classic “Pretender” and the acclaimed “Running on Empty” in 1975 and ‘76 respectively.

“Late for the Sky” is still my favorite, but I think all five of those recordings can stand up to any singer/songwriter’s first five efforts. Browne has released nine studio albums since but none compare to his first five.

Browne was born in Germany in 1948 before his family moved to Los Angeles, Calif. Browne was into music as a youngster and was asked to join the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1967.

His stay in the band was less than a year, but he contributed several songs including “Melissa,” “Shadow Dream Song,” “It’s Raining Here In Long Beach,” “Holding” and “These Days.” Browne penned “These Days” when he was just 16 and revisited it on the “For Everyman” LP.

It was “These Days” that Browne played at the Troubadour Club in L.A. in the late 1960s that eventually led to a recording contract with David Geffen’s Asylum Records in 1971.

Richard “Dickie” Davis, the former manager of Buffalo Springfield, saw Browne’s first show at the Troubadour and had this to say on “Troubadours: the Rise of the Singer-Songwriter” DVD that I have watched repeatedly. “When he came, he came with a suitcase worth of songs.” Davis then recited some of Browne’s lyrics: “She’s a flying bird that sings, with eyes like smoky rings, and she told me that she’d teach me how to fly.”

Davis added, “There’s this kid, this little kid down there in Orange County that writes stuff like this,” as “These Days” played in the background.

On April 1, Music Road Records released a two-CD set titled “Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne” featuring 23 of Browne’s songs covered by 26 different artists. There are some duets and for some reason Lyle Lovett gets two covers.

Being the Browne fan that I am, I feel qualified to critique this set. Overall, I like the set, but it also seems improbable to me that anyone could like all of it.

Without mentioning names (unless you stop by the store), I think that some of the artists failed to capture the “spirit” of the songs or weren’t into the moment.

Some of my favorites include Don Henley and Blind Pilot with “These Days,” Bonnie Raitt and David Lindley’s reggae version of “Everywhere I Go,” Paul Thorn with “Doctor My Eyes,” Jimmy LaFave with “For Everyman,” Sara and Sean Watkins with “Your Bright Baby Blues,” Griffin House with “The Barricades of Heaven,” Kevin Welch with “Looking Into You,” Marc Cohn with “Too Many Angels,” Keb’ Mo’ with “Rock Me On the Water,” Joan Osborne with “Late for the Sky,” Eliza Gilkyson with “Before the Deluge” and JD Souther with “My Opening Farewell.”

Based only on the talent of the artists on this compilation, I am pretty sure there are a lot of folks that feel the way I do about Browne’s songwriting.

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on the Vault 100.7 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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