by Dave Marsh
It's tempting to say that Jackson Browne has had Bob Dylan's career inside out: He began as the most personal of songwriters and became intensely interested in the politics and society of his times. No one has written more eloquently of love lost and won, the perils and pleasures of the search for it, and few have been better rewarded with critical acclaim and commercial success. Yet, at the height of his fame as a romantic confessional balladeer, Jackson Browne did the absolutely unexpected. Rather than turning his back on the world with its "slow parade of fears," while waiting "to awaken from this dream" and "this feeling that it's later than it seems," he has refused to be "afraid to live the life I sing about in song," and steadily worked to integrate his personal vision, which no artist could abandon, with a vision of humanity and justice.
Yet all the quotes in the paragraph above come not from the years of Browne's direct social activism but from two of the first songs he ever wrote: "Doctor My Eyes" and "These Days." In this way, he is really more like Dylan than unlike him -- and I mean that as the highest of compliment -- in the way that his vision has always been integrated, able to see the world in a teardrop, even if it's trickling down his own face.
It's inevitable to write about Jackson Browne in terms of his ...