The Beauty of Art and Activism

I first heard Jackson Browne in 1972. Here was this new young singer/songwriter from Los Angeles, Ca who was a protégé of David Crosby. The first album was intriguing , if for no other reason, because there were guest appearances by David Crosby and Graham Nash who sang harmonies on several of the songs.

Boy, were they great songs : Doctor My Eyes, Jamaica Say You Will and Rock Me On The Water.

By the time " For Everyman " was released in 1973, I was hooked. The melodic structure of the songs and his lyricism heavily influenced by poets like Kenneth Rexroth not only described well the mysteries of romance, but he was also able to begin to address a wider range of issues including the environment.

One day in September 1975, I was visiting with my friend Steve Hollaway who lived on the first floor of Alexander Hall at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J. Steve and I were both seminarians and Steve was a budding author who would go to have a successful writing career He invited me in for a cup of coffee. He had just purchased a Mr. Coffee which had made its inaugural debut as a consumer item. Steve had his stereo system set up, and on the turntable ( this was before CD'S and streaming services ) was the vinyl record album " Late For The Sky "

Jackson Browne sang:
"How long have I been sleeping
How long have I been drifting alone through the night
How long have I been running for that morning flight
Through the whispered promises and the changing light
Of the bed where we both lie
Late for the sky

And with that all of the electricity on the first floor of Alexander Hall went out. We both laughed. I remember that I walked down the hall and talked to our dormitory janitor. Apparently, running the Mr. Coffee machine and the stereo simultaneously was too much for the antiquated 1940's wiring of Alexander Hall.

From Saturate Before Using to Standing in The Breach, Jackson Browne has never failed to surprise and please those who really appreciate good song writing with good content, particularly regarding social and political relevance. He has committed himself in action, writing, advocating, doing benefit concerts for organizations like Bread And Roses, Amnesty International, Musicians United For Safe Energy, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and The Occupy Movement. He has never settled for keeping quiet and for playing it safe which I greatly admire about him.

October 20, 2015 Jackson Browne and his sterling band: Bob Glaub ( Bass), Mauricio Lewak ( Drums ),Jeff Young ( Hammond Organ, Piano ), Chavonne Stewart and Aletha Mills ( Harmony Vocals ) and Greg Leitz( Guitar, Lap Steel, Pedal Steel ) along with multi-instrumentalist-vocalist Larry Campbell and singer-guitarist Teresa Williams delivered a stunning two and a half hour performance at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, TX.

The show was a nice mix of new material from " Standing In The Breach" including songs like " The Long Way Around " and " Leaving Winslow " mixed with older songs like " For Everyman ", " For A Dancer "," Fountain Of Sorrow " and "The Pretender. " and of course " Running On Empty . "

There was tremendous interplay between the musicians including duet playing between pedal steel guitar, lap guitar and electric guitar and piano and violin. Teresa Williams and Aletha Mills both provided strong vocals and the combined voices of Jackson Browne and Teresa Williams on " My Opening Farewell " was beautiful and haunting.

Jackson shared some great anecdotal comments including the inspiration for the song " Standing In The Breach " which he dedicated to a school which was rebuilt following the Haitian Earthquake in 2010, the Academy Of Peace And Justice in Port-Au-Prince which provides education to 2500 students.

From his opening lines:

"Better bring your own redemption when you come
To the Barricades Of Heaven where I'm from "

Jackson Browne came to deliver sincerity of feeling but also optimism and motivation for action that can transform social and political reality.

He is a fine example of the beauty of art and activism.