Tag Archives: Jackson Browne

For A Dancer, Clarence Clemons

For A Dancer
By Jackson Brown with David Lindley on violin

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don’t remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you’d always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you’re nowhere to be found

I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing
I can’t help listening
And I can’t help feeling stupid standing ’round
Crying as they ease you down
’cause I know that you’d rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away
(right on dancing)
No matter what fate chooses to play
(there’s nothing you can do about it anyway)

Just do the steps that you’ve been shown
By everyone you’ve ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another’s steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound

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
But you’ll never know


Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, and Danny Federici

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Celebrities, Music, Video

An Evening With Jackson Browne – A Review

Backed, quite literally, by 20 acoustic guitars, Jackson Browne performed a sold-out solo show at an intimate Michigan Theater in the college town of Ann Arbor last week delighting his adoring fans with an evening packed full of his resplendent and timeless songs. Walking out to center stage with a shy wave to the crowd, many of whom were still being seated, (why, oh why, can’t people get to events like this on time?), Browne alternated between acoustic guitar and a simple keyboard that, at times, sounded more like a grand piano. The singer/songwriter who continues to amaze audiences with his Dorian Gray-like good looks was in excellent spirit and and voice, charming his aging, well dressed disciples with songs both new and old. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening full of songs “for everyman (and woman).”

The Michigan Theater is located right in the middle of the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, but this was not a act that attracted many young people. They apparently have not inherited the same kind of affection for Jackson Browne as, say, Bob Dylan or The Beatles. Rather, it was a well-dressed, wine-drinking congregation who turned out; many of them baby boomers who may have been graduating from college when Jackson Browne first arrived on the music scene some four decades ago.

The California native still seemed spry and quick-witted, even if he struggled to remember the exact chords and lyrics to one of his older songs. But who can blame the man and the audience cheered even louder when he recovered from his momentary memory lapse. I mean, who of us can’t relate. The man has more than a dozen albums; a huge catalogue of music and prefers, unlike many of his peers, to avoid using the evil teleprompter. (And more power to him, I say.)

Jackson Browne began by saying how happy he was to be playing in Ann Arbor; specifically to be performing in a “theater” and not “a hockey rink.” Browne was apparently poking some fun at his recent shows in Canada. Indeed, the acoustics sounded pitch perfect. And though there may have been, what his sound engineer complained to me as “a cloudiness” to his voice at times, (apparently due to the fact that they were forced to stack, rather than hang the speakers) I doubt many in the audience noticed. Most were happy just to hear the old classic Jackson Browne songs, songs they might have played endlessly on their record players, like “Something Fine” and “Late For The Sky.” They were content to hear Jackson Browne’s stories of days long gone by. (That’s the funny thing about nostalgia. It never gets old.)

Browne balanced out the evening by also playing several newer songs. In fact, he opened the night with “The Barricades of Heaven” and played several songs from his most recent studio album, Time The Conqueror. Jackson laughed as he related a conversation he had recently with fellow singer/songwriter and troubadour James Taylor about performing new songs. Jackson said Taylor tells his audiences not to worry, that basically “the new songs are just like the old ones anyway.” And he had a point. Other than some unfamiliarity with lyrics, the newer songs blended in splendidly with his early material to form one solid and consistent sounding body of work. He even worked in one Mariachi-flavored song, written recently about , guess what, the old days. It seemed to be the night’s theme.

It was fun to watch the ease with which Browne selected a particular guitar from the rack of acoustic guitars behind him, sometimes picking one up only to put it back and select another. It was as if each guitar has a personality of its own and only certain guitars could be used to play certain songs. Browne performed the three-hour concert (including a half-hour intermission) without any kind of paper setlist, although he seemed to know in his head and intuitively what songs would work well next to one another. Browne was also quite flexible in song choices, happy to take requests/suggestions from the crowd as they shouted out many of his most familiar songs.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening came at the end of the first set when Jackson Browne played two of his greatest songs back-to-back on piano. First came the elegiac, “For A Dancer,” with Browne’s gorgeous voice reaching up to into the higher octave range quite comfortably. This was followed by a transcendent, gorgeous, anthemic rendition of the enviromentally apocalyptic, yet hopeful ballad, “Before The Deluge.”

Now let the music keep our spirits high
And let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal it’s secrets by and by
By and by–
When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

Lyrics like these sung so movingly are what has garnered Jackson Browne the devoted following he’s had for the last forty years. They were also what had the audience at the Michigan Theater on their feet at the end of the night cheering; fully satisfied and renewed.

1 Comment

Filed under Celebrities, Life In Detroit, Music, My Stories

Oil Spill Protest – I’m Sticking With Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger is 91 years old and he’s still at it. This time he has a new song to sing; he’s protesting the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, you know, the one that’s turning that shoreline into an environmental nightmare of crude oil and muck. The song is both a social commentary on life in 2010, a call for all of us to get involved and a prayer of sorts, for a better future.

Amazing isn’t. Even after all these years, Pete Seeger has avoided the anger and cynicism that turns many bitter and silent. Instead, he seems as strong as ever and as hopeful as ever and if that isn’t an inspiration to you then I don’t know what ever could be.

The first concert I ever attended was in Boston in 1976, I believe, and it featured Pete on banjo, Jackson Browne on guitar and David Lindley on violin. It was a fundraiser for a group called the Clamshell Alliance which had been fighting and rallying for many years to stop the construction of two nuclear power plants in the coastal town of Seabrook, New Hampshire. By this time it was pretty clear that the plants would be built, but Pete and Jackson and David were still singing their protest songs; still holding out hope that the nukes would be stopped. They knew that it was up to them and that if they didn’t continue to fight the power then most likely nobody would.

I’m proud to say that I was at that show. And whenever I am in New Hampshire and come close enough to see the one nuclear power plant that still operates, I am proud that I was a very small part of the protest that may not have stopped construction but perhaps forced the builders to make the plant just a tiny bit safer that they might have.

The lives of people like Pete Seeger should stand as an inspiration to all of us to get involved, to as Pete would say, “think globally and act locally.” So today I ask that you listen to the song, to do what you can to protest it in the hopes that it doesn’t happen again.

In the hope that someday, maybe, “we’ll all pull through.”

Addendum: I was chatting via email with a great friend of mine and I was telling him about a really fantastic article that was published in the New Yorker that was written about Pete. Here’s the link. If you have a spare 15 minutes please read it. I know you’ll enjoy it: http://www.peteseeger.net/new_yorker041706.htm

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Profiles