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Jackson Browne - A Grand Ole Songwriter Shows Off His Abundant Body of Work in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Rock music legend Jackson Browne is a songwriter's songwriter and he has the accolades and industry recognition to prove it. The multiple Grammy-nominated artist was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and he received a similar nod from the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007. So, it was fitting for Browne to finally make his debut at the Grand Ole Opry House where the song is singular and paramount on Sunday, June 18, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jackson Browne was most certainly a Grand Ole songwriter in Nashville at the Opry House.

Jackson joked that it wasn't too intimidating seeing all the photographs of the famous country musicians hanging on the walls of the famous Opry dressing rooms. But, onstage he was calm, cool and collected as he presented a long concert consisting of some newer stuff, some older stuff and even some other people's stuff thrown in for good measure.

If you have been in the music business as long as Jackson has there is going to be low moments to accompany all the highs and plenty of sorrow to temper the exhilarating joy that comes from receiving nightly applause and adoration from your fans. For Browne, this year has been particularly tough by losing two long-term bandmates in the form of guitarist David Lindley and keyboardist Jeff Young within three weeks of each other.

With that in mind Jackson dedicated the title track from his latest Downhill From Everywhere to Young who played a prominent role in the song's writing and performance. Browne also indicated that he was currently on the road with his smaller "cut down" band that was missing a guitarist and keyboard player from the larger incarnation he has been touring with on recent outings. Jackson described how he wanted the intimate elements of his songs to be explored in this way and that goal was achieved without question. But, we also think it was just easier to not have to think about filling the large hole left by Jeff's absence so soon after his passing.

Our seats gave us a great view of Jackson behind the piano.

The smaller band also sized things down in a way that gave this concert in Nashville a vibe and feel more closely related to Jackson's solo acoustic concerts. For the first hour fans at the Grand Ole Opry House were respectful and even a little sedate. But, a loud request for "Patriot" found Jackson scrambling for a different guitar agreeing with the fan that perhaps that was a good idea. Browne and band proceeded to deliver a version of the Little Steven number that restored the reggae mix and included a whole new slew of declarative statements ("I am not a misogynist") near the closing coda. From there the floodgates were opened and we received a three-pack audible in the first half with the colorful "Sky Blue and Black" and a moody "For a Dancer" following before ending with the set-listed "The Barricades of Heaven".

After a brief fifteen-minute intermission the raucous enthusiasm picked up quickly and fans in the audience soon received another mind-blowing trio of early Jackson when "Something Fine", "Love Needs a Heart" and "Rock Me On the Water" converged making it clear that a most fine night of heartfelt music was flowing over the sold-out standing room only crowd in attendance at Opryland. The sound in the room and the lighting were perfect throughout the evening as Jackson repeatedly switched from guitar at center stage to piano and back again. The one curiosity we observed was that Browne seemed to avoid standing in the famed Ryman circle that was directly in front of his mic stand.

Jackson Browne and members of his "cut down" band in Nashville.

"I want to do all those songs. This is incredible," stated the good natured Jackson Browne as the volley of requests continued. As shouts of 'Freebird' and 'Take It Easy' filled the air the star showed how he takes the numerous interruptions to his show in good stride. "These are my songs. Well, except for the Lynyrd Synyrd and Eagles songs."

Speaking of that Eagles song Jackson offered up his co-write "Take It Easy" to the memory of Glenn Frey and asked the Opry faithful to sing it loud so that his departed friend might be able to hear it. As an added bonus, this main show closer that originally appeared on Browne's sophomore effort a half a century ago included the beautiful and melodic transition into the track that followed it - "Our Lady of the Well" - on the For Everyman album. In its time this collection served to introduce Jackson Browne as a songwriter who was willing to go farther and deeper than his contemporaries. This record also helped set the course and road before him that he is still running on today. He has come full circle. Next time he plays at the Grand Ole Opry House we just hope he will stand there in the spotlight. He certainly deserves that honor, too.

SETLIST: Set 1 | Don't Let Us Get Sick (Warren Zevon cover) | Some Bridges | For Everyman | Black and White | The Long Way Around | Downhill From Everywhere | Until Justice Is Real | Never Stop | I Am a Patriot (Little Steven cover) | Sky Blue and Black | For a Dancer | The Barricades of Heaven | Set 2 | Farther On | Off of Wonderland | Something Fine | Love Needs a Heart | Rock Me on the Water | In the Shape of a Heart | Somebody's Baby | Doctor My Eyes | These Days | Your Bright Baby Blues | The Pretender | Running on Empty | Take It Easy (Eagles cover) | Our Lady of the Well | Encore | The Load-Out | Stay (Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs cover)

Jackson Browne was pretty upbeat event as he presented new tracks from Downhill From Everywhere.

Related Links: For more information on JACKSON BROWNE and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Jackson Browne | Jackson Browne Is All Heart in Nashville | Jackson Browne Plays Downtown at the New Ascend Amphitheater | Grand Ole Opry House


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