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Jackson Browne Is All Heart in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne was all smiles when he took the stage to a burst of cheers from the Nashville faithful on Monday, August 16, 2021 at the Bridgestone Arena in Music City. Just like everyone else in the world he appeared happy for a return to some form of normalcy and for him that meant capably and assuredly fronting his rock and roll outfit during a 60 minute opening slot for headliner James Taylor after a fourteen month pandemic related delay from its originally scheduled date.

Jackson Browne on stage at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

But, Jackson Browne fans are used to waiting on the rocker who over the course of his long and legendary career regularly put some significant time between his studio releases. His most recent "Downhill From Everywhere" comes seven years after his previous and like this concert in Tennessee - the wait was more than worth it.

Jackson's 10 song set in Nashville was heavily weighted to the new record with 30 percent of the songs coming from the extraordinary album. The title track and "Until Justice Is Real" found Browne the activist still singing out for environmental causes and speaking up for the downtrodden as he has done for much of his musical life. The 10 tracks on "Downhill From Everywhere" have an interesting musical life of their own as well as many recall or point to lyrical or compositional moments from Jackson's output from the 70's, 80's and 90's. In that way, it's almost a greatest hits collection in that you could play it for any newcomer to show what the artist has stood for during more than half a century of work.

Scenes from Jackson's opening set in Nashville.

Take the lead single "My Cleveland Heart" for example that Jackson described from the stage as being about "a mechanical heart". At first - contemplating the shape of an industrially designed pump might appear to be a head scratcher. But, this song comes to life on a steady beat and some of that patented Jackson Browne steel guitar sound flowing through its veins as it explores the human condition and the frailty of the flesh based pulmonary organ that we are all born with. Put it in the same category as some of Jackson's greatest misunderstood numbers like "Lawyers In Love" and the racy double-entendres of "Rosie" and "Redneck Friend". Give it time and it will become a classic just like those.

Jackson credited his current guitarist Val McCallum for providing the bulk of the idea behind that track. Val, who stood tall stage right electrified the night with his powerful infusion of solos and background vocals. He emerged as a solid and important figure in Browne's band playing a similar role as friend and foil David Lindley once did. As usual Jackson's band - which included longtime bass player Bob Glaub - was strong and dependable as they helped him deliver the true core of his greatest hits in a set that went by way too fast. Jackson is stretching out his shows on solo bookings that are peppered throughout the open dates on the tour with James Taylor. This pairing is doing so well that an additional fourteen nights have just been added to the trek that is now scheduled to wrap up on December 13 in Buffalo, New York.

Jackson Browne released his fantastic "Downhill From Everywhere" in July of 2021.

For the longest time Jackson Browne and the words "eternally youthful looking" were often bound together in print reviews and artist features. Now, however, the one time "child in these hills" has taken on the appearance of a California mountain man but that just means he is aging well just like a fine Napa Valley wine. In '65 he was 17. In '69 he was 21. Now, in '21 he is 72 and still moving on down the line with plenty of fuel in the tank and a heart full of music - still looking for something - and that's something fine to behold.

SETLIST: I'm Alive | The Long Way Around | Fountain of Sorrow | Downhill From Everywhere | My Cleveland Heart | Until Justice Is Real | Doctor My Eyes | Late for the Sky | The Pretender (with James Taylor) | Running on Empty

James Taylor and Jackson were a perfect pairing in Music City.

Related Links: For more information on JACKSON BROWNE and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Jackson Browne | Jackson Browne Plays Downtown at the New Ascend Amphitheater | James Taylor at the Bridgestone Arena | Bridgestone Arena


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