Lex Neon On Jackson Browne

So I sit here in hot, dusty, unemployed Las Vegas thinking about the smoggy gray-brown sky of Los Angeles, my hometown.  I think about the streets where I walked and drove as a younger guy.  Somewhere in my memory is 23 year old me driving a ’79 Chevy Caprice to a Halloween party, playing a worn cassette copy of The Pretender by Jackson Browne at top volume.  Dressed in drag and high heels to impress some young maiden, I’m singing the title track at the top of my voice:

I’m going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen

As a product of an ancient medium called “70s Los Angeles FM radio,” the sound of Jackson Browne’s music is woven into the fabric of my being.  There is so much of California that rushes through my 40 year old mind when I think of Jackson’s music.  There aren’t many songwriters that have the power to make you groove, laugh, cry and question your own existence.  Did you ever dig “Song for Adam” from Jackson’s first album?  The combination of the guitar and cello is enough to make you want to kick at the sky and question your own mortality.

I remember the first time I heard Jackson.  It was some music compilation that was being sold on television back in the mid-70s.  The commercial played a tiny portion of “Doctor My Eyes,” and I was hooked.  I eventually heard the whole song on AM radio, and was blown away by the groove, the innocent vocals, and that great guitar solo by the late, great Jesse Ed Davis.  When FM became my new playground later in the decade, I discovered “Running On Empty,” “The Pretender,” and “The Fuse.”  I became a true fan, and started (at the ripe old age of 10) collecting his albums one by one.

Do you remember “Late For The Sky?”  It’s one of the few songs that brings me to tears.  Such beauty rarely comes across in music in this first decade of the new millineum.  “Here Comes Those Tears Again” reminds me of being a teenager, my first car, my first love and “the open road under my wheels.”  “Boulevard” from Hold Out reminds me of being 12, and sneaking out of the family compound, hopping on a bus, and heading for Hollywood to see the freaks, punks, and the “beautiful people.”

So much of my hometown is in Jackson’s music.

Sometime in ’96, about 4 years before I left L.A., I was coming out of a small club / restaurant next to McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica when I bumped into Jackson.  I was there with Clover Club Brian, in support of Clover Club Paul’s new musical project.  After the gig, we decided to head over to McCabe’s to check out some songbooks and mandolins.  This is where we bumped into Jackson.

As we strolled 50 or so feet over to the guitar shop, we noticed two figures walking in the opposite direction.  I was yammering on and on about Led Zeppelin’s rich acoustic sound and the value of John Paul Jones’ work in the band when Brian stopped me in mid sentence.  “Hey,” Brian said.  “Isn’t that Jackson Browne?”  I turned around and straightened my glasses.  It was him, alright.

Jackson heard this, and slowly spun around in the cool Santa Monica night to spy the guys who spied him.  He looked at us in the evening air, and I quickly chimed up.  “Hi!  We really love your music, Mr. Browne.”  He replied with a courteous “thank you,” and walked away.  In Los Angeles, we’ve pretty much learned to say what you have to say to those you admire, and move on.

This October 9, Jackson Browne celebrates another birthday.  I just want to say thanks, Jackson.  Thank you for those brilliant songs that sparks my brain and jump starts my memory.  Thanks for setting the standard for singer / songwriters to follow, and for continuing to raise the bar.  Thanks for making me aware of the plight of the planet and for having a song for “everyman.”  Even after hearing you for the first time 34 years ago, you still touch me.

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com/)

Currently listening :
The Next Voice You Hear: The Best of Jackson Browne
By Jackson Browne
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~ by Poppermost on November 9, 2008.

One Response to “Lex Neon On Jackson Browne”

  1. […] 8, 2008 by Corey Blake The blogger Lexneon reminisces about Jackson Browne and growing up in Los Angeles. As a product of an ancient medium […]

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