Showing posts with label Jackson Browne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jackson Browne. Show all posts

Monday, October 16, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1973

October, 1973 is a monster month in rock 'n' roll. I've already featured three albums from this list of twelve shown above recently and decided to mix them all together and make a big ol' playlist this week. 

I always seem to surprise myself 50 years down the road, and this past week it was listening to Neil Young's Time Fades Away. This was the album that followed Harvest and it just became part of Young's succession of albums where he seemed not to care as much in making great records. Neil has a lot of personal history within this time period, so much so that this live album is not officially listed in his catalogue, and wasn't pressed as a CD until 2017. In my journey through the past this last week, I found Time Fades Away very satisfying. In a year, I'll give Neil's 1974 On The Beach, another try.

Two other gems, are Fleetwood Mac's Mystery to Me, and Dave Mason's It's Like You Never Left. I think I included every song from both albums here as the Brits just kept making great music.

Enjoy my friends, you've got a full week of listening enjoyment as I was personally having the time of my life with my girlfriend and into my first semester of college in October, 1973. 

Monday, October 02, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1973 • For Everyman • Jackson Browne

For Everyman is Jackson Browne's second album and there is no sophomore slump here. I remember going over to listen to it for the first time with my friend Paul Hobbs in his bedroom, the teenager's sanctuary. 

Everyone realizes that Jackson Browne is an exceptional talent with the release of this album. For me, he quickly ascends to the same songwriting status that I had for James Taylor, Neil Young, Paul Simon, and Cat Stevens in the early 70's folk-rock era. This album also begins Browne's long collaboration with David Lindley whose lap steel guitar playing was a huge part of the Jackson Browne sound.  

Everything about Jackson Browne's albums are intricate and intimate, including his album covers. Didn't everyone want to live in a spanish-style house in the 1970's? I sure did. When I saw this album cover for the first time, I immediately thought of my grandparents little spanish-style house on Park Street in Santa Maria, CA and their little brick enclosed backyard with its outdoor arched fireplace. I loved that house.

The album cover photograph is a depiction of Browne's childhood home in Highland Park, California, "The Abbey San Encino” which was hand-built by his grandfather Clyde Browne and owned to this day by his brother Edward. The photograph was taken by Alan F. Blumenthal. The cover of the original release was a cutout with the inner sleeve showing Browne sitting in a rocking chair. When removed the picture on the inside had the same background but Browne and the rocking chair were omitted. Wikipedia

 Jackson Browne is Evermore. In the fifty-one years since his debut album in 1972, nothing has diminished. Buy his latest album, go see him in concert, and watch his current YouTube videos as I continue to be in simple awe of his everlasting talent and humanity. 

Enjoy this wonderful album my friends, again.

Monday, August 17, 2020

List Your FAV FIVE: Singer-songwriters

"Singer-songwriter" is used to define popular music artists who write and perform their own material, which is often self-accompanied generally on acoustic guitar or piano. Such an artist performs the roles of composer [writes the songs music], lyricist, [writes the songs words] vocalist, sometimes instrumentalist, and often self-manager. According to AllMusic, singer-songwriters' lyrics are often personal but veiled by elaborate metaphors and vague imagery, and their creative concern is to place emphasis on the song rather than their performance of it. Wikipedia

Again, I enlisted my dear friend and singer-songwriter Paul Hobbs to help me navigate the guidelines for this week's challenge, list your five favorite singer-songwriters of all-time. Paul helped me clarify a couple key points to lay down the basics for filling out the Google Form below.
  1. You can only list one person on each line 1-5. By the definition above, the singer-songwriter composes the music, writes the lyrics and performs the song by singing and/or playing an instrument. My wife Mary Kit immediately threw a wrench in the works by saying she was going to write, "Elton John and Bernie Taupin" together on one line. I started to get into the weeds saying, "You know, Bernie first writes the lyrics separately and then Elton writes the music to craft a song around the lyrics, so by definition... Mary Kit cuts me off and says, "If you're going to make this too complicated, nobody is going to fill out your form." I get it. Elton John is 3/4th a singer-songwriter, and a hell of one at that so I tell her, "Just write Elton John on the bloody form."
  2. This list is based on a singer-songwriter's SOLO career. Okay, getting back on the lawnmower and heading to the weeds again- somebody like Tom Petty is a good example where the mower can get hung up. Tom is mainly known for his body of work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Traveling Wilburys. If you look at Tom's discography, he has three solo albums. So, if you write Tom Petty in you list of five, you are selecting him based on his solo work NOT his band compositions. Same for Neil Young, John Lennon, Pete Townshend, etc.
As a teaser for next week, we're going to list our FAV FIVE Bands where all the fabulous writing combinations of Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Stills/Nash/Crosby, etc. are all contained within by simply naming your favorite bands, albeit the short list.

Okay, here's my ranked list of FAV FIVE Singer-songwriters. Boy this was tough as a couple of readers have said in the previous FAV FIVEs, it's something like Sophie's Choice. For me, what it came down to was how many albums/CD's did I own of that artist as a solo singer-songwriter.
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Jackson Browne
  4. Paul Simon
  5. Neil Young
Note- Like last week you can see my random brainstorm list at the end of this blog.

Now it's your turn.

If for some reason, the Google Form does not appear in your web browser, click on this direct link here -


Mary Kit McIntosh's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Don Henley
  2. Elton John
  3. Glenn Frey
  4. Prince 
  5. Stevie Nicks

Ron Zieman's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Joni Mitchell
  2. Neil Young
  3. George Harrison
  4. Eric Clapton
  5. Don Henley

Ken Forman's FAV FIVE  
  1. Bob Dylan
  2. James Taylor
  3. Neil Young
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Pete Townshend

Paul Hobbs' FAV FIVE  
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Bob Dylan
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Paul Simon
Ron Ouellette's FAV FIVE  
  1. Cat Stevens
  2. Warren Zevon
  3. Al Stewart
  4. Vienna Teng
  5. Joanne Shaw Taylor
Chuck Stark's FAV FIVE  
  1. Neil Young
  2. Bob Dylan
  3. James Taylor
  4. Paul McCartney
  5. Bruce Springsteen

Roger Demchak's FAV FIVE  
  1. Paul McCartney
  2. John Lennon
  3. Neil Young
  4. James Taylor
  5. Bob Dylan

Doug's random brainstorm list of his favorite singer-songwriters as a solo artist.
  • Paul McCartney
  • John Lennon
  • Jackson Browne
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Shawn Colvin
  • Randy Newman
  • Neil Young
  • James Taylor
  • John Prine
  • Paul Simon
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Van Morrison
  • Don Henley
  • Bob Dylan
  • Mark Knopfler
  • Carol King
  • Laura Nyro
  • Cat Stevens
  • George Harrison
  • Billy Joel
  • J.D. Souther
  • Harry Nilsson
  • Elvis Costello
  • Tom Waits
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jesse Colin Young
  • Sting
  • David Bowie
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Donovan
  • Peter Gabriel
  • and yes Mary Kit, Elton John

Monday, March 02, 2020

JD Souther, hey he wrote that song...

Photo: Patrick Breen/The Republic

Well, I guess I'm standin' in a hall of broken dreams
That's the way it sometimes goes
And every new love never turns out like it seems
I guess the feelin' comes and goes

Faithless love like a river flows
Like a raindrops fallin' on a broken rose
Down in some valley where nobody goes

Faithless love has found me
Thrown its chilly arms around me
Faithless love, faithless love like a river flows
from Faithless Love, JD Souther

Many rock fans may have never heard the name John David (JD) Souther, the singer-songwriter with a fantastic singing voice matched by his mastery of lyric and rhythm in crafting haunting love songs mostly made famous by other people including, the EaglesLinda Ronstadt, and James Taylor. In relation to the Eagles and Ronstadt, Souther directly participated as a songwriter or co-songwriter of some of their biggest hits, not to mention being a close friend, confidant and essential collaborator for two of the greatest acts in rock 'n' roll history.

In 2013, Souther was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and called "a principal architect of the Southern California sound and a major influence on a generation of songwriters." Wikipedia

JD Souther was born in 1945 in Detroit, grew up in Amarillo, Texas and like so many of his contemporaries moved to Los Angeles in the 1960's.  During this time, Souther was Linda Ronstadt's boyfriend and lived with her, and was also roommates or close neighbors with Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, and Don Henley in the Hollywood hills. In 1969, Frey and Souther formed the band Longbranch Pennywhistle and released one album with the same title as both were at the forefront in creating country rock as a genre in the 1970's.

In 1972, Souther released his first solo album, John David Souther and in 1974 formed the super country rock band, Souther-Hillman-Fury Band that made two albums and broke up in 1975 as the three continued to pursue their solo careers.

JD Souther (second from left)
If you've followed the Eagles from the beginning with their first album in 1971, you've probably wondered or even wished like I did, why JD Souther was never a formal member of the band? With co-writing credits on Best of My Love, James DeanNew Kid in Town, Victim of Love, Heartache Tonight, and How Long, this guy should have been in the starting lineup. I've read that Randy Meisner the original bass player in the Eagles rejected the idea of Souther joining the group, but I think, like Jackson Browne that their solo careers were their primary focus. Also, I think Souther's life-long friendships with Henley and Frey were more important than being another chef in the Eagles kitchen.
Eagle's Desperado Back Album Cover - Photo Henry Diltz
Jackson Browne (dead guy far left)
JD Souther (dead guy far right)

I have a tendency to play- Should've Could've, but I personally think if JD Souther had been a full-time Eagle that band would have soared even higher, maybe even into the 80's? And, when Glen Frey died in 2016, I think JD should have become an Eagle and not Vince Gill. Don't get me wrong, Gill was a wonderful choice, but he is a country star and not part of the Eagles rich history like Souther. Who knows the private conversations that took place between Henley and Souther, but that's just me being a fan...

Now if you're a fan of Linda Ronstadt and who isn't, JD Souther is so much more than a former boyfriend and duet singer on some of her albums. In fact, Linda recorded ten songs by Souther, three of which are bonafide rock 'n' roll ballad classics and all-time favorites of mine- Faithless Love, Prisoner in Disguise, and Silver Blue. In this week's playlist I've included Linda's versions of these three songs with JD's stellar backup vocals on these classic tracks that never get old.

Ronstadt & Souther in the 1970's
Last Thursday, I got to see JD Souther live at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. It was a great show and I spotted Jack Tempchin (Eagles songwriter, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Already Gone) coming from backstage to sit down for the show. Souther performed solo and moved between acoustic guitar and piano to play a great setlist for the mostly boomer faithful crowd who were respectfully quiet during the songs. JD is also a great storyteller and I appreciated his setup stories between many of the songs- like the drunk Australian who was driving on the wrong side of the road and hit Souther's Lotus sports car stopped at a Stop sign. Souther had a split second to turn the car a little left so that it wasn't a straight head-on collision that probably saved his life as the fiberglass shell disintegrated around him.  He got out, staggered to a lawn as Don Henley drove up from behind a minute later. He tells Don, "Go look inside the glove box and make sure there's no cocaine," before the police showed up. There was no cocaine, but another interesting story from the high flying 1970's in the hollywood canyons.

In putting together the playlist this week, I came across an absolute gem of an album that had escaped my attention during my many years working a day job. This is Souther's 2011 album of new stripped down acoustic versions of many of his hits by to other people or his personal favorites. I've included most of the recordings in the playlist, but I highly recommend you go out and buy JD Souther Natural History immediately, it is that good my friends!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Echo in the Canyon

Rickenbacker 360-12 Electric Guitar
 So I finally got a chance to see the Andrew Slater documentary echo in the canyon (2018) starring Jacob Dylan and just released this past week on Netflix and linked here.

This documentary has gotten a few harsh reviews, as notably Joni Mitchell is not even mentioned, even in the context of the California Sound evolving from surfing and car songs to more socially conscious and interpersonal songs. For god's sake, as a Laurel Canyon resident who released Ladies of the Canyon in 1970 she (and The Doors) deserved a little shout out here. Also the overuse  of clips from the 1969 art film Model Shop as Slater's and Dylan's inspiration for the documentary is annoying but is easily put aside.

With that said, this 1 hour and 22 minute doc has plenty of great clips of its own as you get a snapshot of the the mid to late 60's in Laurel Canyon with some of the famous musicians who lived there and some famous musicians who didn't. My favorite was getting to watch Tom Petty talk about music one more time as this was his last recorded interview. The beginning of the film with Tom is a fantastic hook that for me is my ultimate sweet spot of Monday Monday jingle jangle 60's rock 'n' roll and my original inspiration for writing this blog. For me, learning anything new about three of my all-time favorite bands- The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield are gem pieces to the rock 'n' roll puzzle for those of us who just can't get enough of this stuff. Man, to have a time machine and be a young adult in Laurel Canyon and on the Sunset Strip in the mid-sixties, would be...

Here's several key elements that make this film 'a must see' that covers the folk to folk rock transformation.

This starts with the transition of folk musicians and studio recording in New York mostly moving to Los Angeles shortly after The Beatles stepped off the plane in 1964. John Sebastian tells how Roger McGuinn started singing Beatles' songs in folk clubs in New York and Los Angeles with no success but with the guts of a pioneer and a Beatles inspired 12 string Rickenbacker 360-12 electric guitar. 

In the film, Roger McGuinn gets a much deserved feature as a major architect from musicians singing folk songs with acoustic guitars to composing folk rock songs with electric guitars. Here's a quick clip (not in the film) of Roger and his Rickenbacker.

In the film, Roger and The Byrds take traditional folk songs like Pete Seeger's The Bells of Rhymney and transform it in their 1965 version. Here's a set of clips, first with Seeger's original version, and then The Byrds.

I also enjoyed the conversations with famous musicians who discuss how art is a continual process of iteration and the 'cross pollination' of songs that influence song writing. I bought a book a couple of years ago by Austin Kleon with the perfect title to describe this process of creativity, Steal like an Artist. In the 1960's, Laurel Canyon becomes such a place where collaboration + competition = creativity. One example from the doc, is how George Harrison adapts Roger's riffs on The Byrds version of The Bells of Rhymney that influence him in his 1965 song, If I Needed Someone.

Then, Brian Wilson is blown away by Rubber Soul and that inspires him to write Pet Sounds in 1966. In turn, The Beatles are inspired by Pet Sounds, and in 1967 create Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. (As a side note to the playlist below- I also include Buffalo Springfield's (Stephen Stills) Questions, which morphs into Carry On with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and then Eric Clapton adapts the Questions riff for his song, Let It Rain (1970) .

July 25, 1965 - Newport Folk Festival
The film's MC role is played with perfect Bob Dylan DNA detachment by son Jakob Dylan, born in 1969. I think son Dylan does a great job tapping into dad's influence without mentioning his name. As the greatest songwriter of his generation, Bob Dylan himself also makes the historic transition from acoustic folk to electric rock 'n' roll and turns the music world on its head at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

As the documentary unfolds, I realize Jakob is the perfect medium to tell this story. His quiet casual manner and approach to the material works perfectly for the famous musicians who take his questions and run with it (e.g. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Tom Petty,  Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, Lou Adler and Michelle Phillips).

Jakob brings in his own generation of musicians to update 13 songs from the California Sound era that in their interpretation remain both current and true to the originals. In the playlist below, I start with the original 60's version and then follow it with the Jakob and friends take. I love his selections as Jakob goes for some of the deeper cuts, not just the hits and hey that's my kind of playlist! I highly recommend you make the time to watch echo in the canyon this week on Netflix, it's a trip!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Val McCallum, at the end of the day

One of my new finds on Netflix is Off Camera (Sam Jones Pictures). In the 2014 Series 1: Episode 4 (Netflix Link) is Sam's interview with Val McCallum.  I had never heard of Val before, even though he probably was introduced by Jackson Browne at his Balboa Theatre concert in San Diego a couple years back. Val is Jackson's long-time lead guitar player on tour.

Val McCallum is the son of famous parents David McCallum and Jill Ireland. Val was born in 1963 and his father David starred in one of my all-time favorite TV shows from 1964-1968, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as secret agent, llya Kuryakin.

I hesitated to write the above paragraph, as I'm sure Val lives the constant reminder of his famous parents before discussing his music, but for me being a baby boomer, I think he can appreciate the connection.

However, it is Val's closeness to his mother Jill in the Off Camera interview and her long journey with breast cancer that sucked me into the world of Val McCallum. I enjoyed his stories of youth, going to school with the Jackson Five, and into the life of becoming a musician and a session with Harry Nilsson as his first professional gig.

Sam Jones dives his into his 2012 solo album, at the end of the day which I immediately streamed off Amazon and then began the YouTube playlist for this week. In following last weeks blog about Scott Hirsch and his new album, Lost Time Behind the Moon; both albums are perfect January listening to albums as I'm writing this on a rainy cold Saturday with the fireplace gas logs burning.

If you're into the Americana genre, at the end of the day is a must listen with Val's well crafted songwriting combined with his sparkling acoustic and electric guitar.

And speaking of Americana, Val is also in what you might call a comic country band called Jackshit. Not only is Val having a blast just having a fun band, he's teamed with Elvis Costello's rhythm section, Pete Thomas on drums and Davey Faragher on bass. This is an extremely talented band in the same tongue-in-cheek vein as Dan Hick and His Hot Licks was, but completely different.

So my friends just sit back on this winter's day and enjoy the music of Val McCallum.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Jackson Brown Tour 2015 San Diego: Sitting in the Breach

1. an act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.
2. a gap in a wall, barrier, defense, (or period in time)

1. make a gap in and break through (a wall, barrier, or defense).
2. (of a whale) rise and break through the surface of the water.

I googled the definition of breach to help me organize my thoughts for this week and help describe all my feelings from the experience of finally seeing Jackson Browne live, after all these years.

It was a wonderful concert. Jackson Browne at 66 still having a great singing voice, looking great and playing with a fantastic band behind him. The crowd was excited to see him and none more than San Diego's Bill Walton who'll I just say was our hands-raised after every song best representative. Bill, of course, just stands out. I spotted him right after the first song when the lights went up, sitting tall in the middle of the middle floor rows, kind of like he was just mixed in with the rest of us.

As Jackson gets into his set, this is when the breach part starts to creep into my mind. He isn't just playing a good-time summer re-run show of his 1970's hits, he's playing a lot of his 2014 album, Standing in the Breach. I love it, most of the crowd being the gray hairs we are, are very respectful giving heartfelt applause after each song. But then I start feeling a small but growing lack of attention vibe around me. The couple to my left start having a lengthy conversation. Two ladies right behind my wife, Mary Kit and I have actually been talking straight through the first several songs and seem oblivious when the volume drops and Jackson's voice is the lead instrument. We both use the quarter head turn around maneuver several times before they kind of get the visual hint to pipe down. 

Now Jackson's also being Jackson as he makes several politically left comments throughout HIS show and anyone has just got to know that before buying a ticket or they haven't been paying attention to him in the last 45 years. Now the dude to the right of Mary Kit is a different sort. He is whistling loudly, even during some soft parts of songs until the guy in front of him turns around and tells him, "You're annoying." But here's the weird part, whenever Jackson makes a political remark, the dude yells, "bullshit!" It's like a time warp- Man, I loved you when I had long hair in the seventies and smoked pot, but now that I've grown into a conservative, I'd wish you'd just play the rock 'n roll and please stop talking. I'm thinking, did this dude ever listen to the words of any Jackson Browne song like, Before the Deluge

So Jackson's playing on, starts at 8:05 and ends a little after 11:00 pm with a 15-minute break in between. He has a strong set (here is the list), the band in total sync, calm and in command. This past week, I read a review of his show in Pittsburgh, Oct. 2014, Concert review: Jackson Browne tour puts the focus on new songs. You can read it, but the reviewer basically blasts Browne for having the audacity to play his new songs when people like him should only show up for the last half hour when he plays his rocking hits of the 70's. This undoubtedly is the same tired review all great musician's get ad nauseam after world stage success early in their careers and cursed for writing and performing anything new to the masses after their major hit cycle. Jackson actually handles these situations with humor. During the concert, he remarked after several insistent fans kept shouting at him to sing one of his old hits (and I paraphrase), "Our relationship is like a marriage, you keep saying it and I want to do just the opposite. And, as we often say in marriage, I heard you the first time."

So, I read the breach definition and had a couple of thoughts. First, the crowd was great but some were bored liked the reviewer above as they themselves failed to hold their own attention to something new and just wanted the familiar. Second, was Jackson himself, a whale rising and breaking through the surface of the ocean. May we all continue to break through in the things we do and with the support of others (whatever the size of our personal fanbase) actively attending in the process.

Here are the lyrics to Standing in the Breach. I love his belief that self-determination is the key, that no matter natural or man-made disasters, it's only each one of us to make or rebuild our world in the place that it can be.

One last thing, you love rock 'n roll, so The Birds of St. Marks is a song in your wheelhouse that Jackson Browne wrote in 1967 and recorded on the new album. For me, this was my favorite moment last Wednesday night. The moment when you get that excitement rush, like when a band and a song all come together.

Purchase Standing in the Breach on Amazon

Monday, August 03, 2015

Went to a Garden Party

If you look at the tour schedules for bands and individuals from the 60's and 70's, you'll be amazed (or maybe not) of how many acts are still currently touring. It seems that 'older' rock 'n roll acts represent at least 50% of the current concerts, when in fact, most of these acts haven't had a hit in years. I don't need to ask why, as you already know, that the power of rock 'n roll is still very strong with the people who cut their teeth to the rhythm of acoustic and electric guitar.

In this past year, I have seen Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Bette Midler and Gary Clark Jr., not to mention, Motown the Musical. In the coming months, I have tickets for Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr, Mark Knopfler, Don Henley and Shawn Colvin, Neil Young and Elton John. I love the music, the nostalgia and to see it live is just so special. I have and will continue to go to shows to hear hit songs from the past. Some of the songs are even a bit tiresome (if you read my blog last week), but live music gets your blood pumping and feeling part of a community, just having fun and enjoying the good vibrations. We are all blessed to celebrate music together in venues all over America.

In going to see all these great bands this past year, I thought about Rick Nelson, who like several other prominent music greats, died in a plane crash. I thought about all the great musicians that I will never see live. Rick Nelson's 1972 song, Garden Party, struck a chord with me in that we should always celebrate the old songs but also, embrace an artist's new songs with an open mind. I say this as several older musicians have come out with new music in 2015 (e.g. James TaylorNeil Young), or will be coming out with a new album soon (e.g. Don Henley). This gives me inspiration to always be creating something new, even if you're an old dog. So let's all keep creating new stuff! However, at the same time I can't help but reflect, the good die young and it's sad we'll never get to hear new music from the likes of Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Rick Nelson.

Anyway, I've never seen Jackson Browne live. I will finally get that pleasure on August 12th, here in San Diego. Whatever he chooses to play, it will be a gift.