Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Albums for Life: Joint 12: The Band: 'The Band'/Jackson Browne: 'Late for the Sky'

Misjudgment: somehow I have 13 albums left for 12 spaces.
I'm not going to try and muster a connection between these two classics.
Neither am I going to write at length about the amazingly mature musical dexterity, unmatched ensemble playing and brilliantly timeless songwriting on The Band's amazing 2nd album.
Instead I'm going to direct you to Seamus's consummate articulations over on his Vapour Trails blog.

That leaves me to concentrate on Jackson Browne's 'Late for the Sky' where Browne tapped into a similar rich vein of romantic, cinematic escapism as Springsteen's 'Born to Run', which was irresistible to my early adolescent self, trapped behind boarding school windows.
Wide screened yet intimate; and there was always a car...

Look, you're standing in the window
Of a house nobody lives in
And I'm sitting in a car across the way
Let's just say an early model Chevrolet
You go pack your sorrows
The trash man comes tomorrow
We'll throw 'em on the curb
And then just sail away

After seeing him on an Old Grey Whistle Test Special Jackson was irresistible to me; he had that lanky long hair that I'd always craved and he cared about the planet and all of its inhabitants...
His environmentalism and humanism may have been vague and occasionally vacuous - "somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go may lie a reason you were alive, but you'll never know" - but I believed every word that he sang; his intense wide eyed sincerity convinced you of his conviction. His sharp sad eyed observations were tempered by a soft focussed mellow musicality, he made a great choice of side kick in David Lindley whose fiddle and guitar ramblings added another layer of emotive melody.
This was an important release; it paved the way for a glut of lyrical West Coast singer songwriters. Whether you thank or curse JB all depends where you stand on The Eagles: some might say 'on the back of their necks' but then... without 'Late For the Sky' there might have been no platform for Warren Zevon or Tom Waits...
I love this album so much; it offers comfort and nostalgia.
It also contains a song that always makes me think of Di.
I play 'For a Dancer' and she always dances for me.
I've worn out 2 LPs, a cassette and I'm currently on my 3rd remastered CD.
£3 from Amazon here. 
Buy it and put it on the car stereo.
The middle of the road will never be a sweeter place to be...


  1. So it's you that keeps forcing me into the ditch!
    Jackson Brown, despite the fact that he has always seemed to be there as a name, left me grasping in the dark for any memory of a song, or sound. Strange. Listening now and none of the songs are in any way familiar.
    Thanks for linking, btw.

  2. Yup, I can understand how his blandtastic sound might have passed you by. It was a sound of a time for me; an alternative to Slade and Mud when I was looking for a more 'adult' music that wasn't my parents or progressive rock. I didn't need ELP I needed salvation and Jackson was my guide...

    1. Well, you've gotta take salvation wherever you find it!

  3. I meant to post here last night, but somehow ended up writing an outrageous rambling commentary about my U2 pick. I'd been renovating our kitchen, and I think I must have unknowingly been tripping out after inhaling ceramic tile adhesive all day...

    Regarding your pick/s (hope you're not a Math teacher!)... The Band & JB are good ones. I'm afraid many of these old icons missed my list. Believe it or not I was too young (shallow?) to appreciate them during their prime. 'Northern Lights, Southern Cross' was the Band album that finally grabbed me. "Acadian Driftwood" & "It Makes No Difference" my favorite Robbie Robertson tunes ever. Garth Hudson's playing is genius... I've watched a few clips of BJ Cole's animated fretwork, and he seems to share that "into the music" rapture whilst playing that Garth inhabits. Like a mad scientist, all facial contortions, squirming away, channeling heavenly melodies...

    Jackson Browne is someone that I "should" love, but never got past liking. His debut probably my fave, although I like 'Hold Out' too. I don't think he ever topped "Doctor My Eyes" brilliant piano riff and strikingly emotional lyric. I kinda disagree with you about David Lindley's later partnership. Going back to how you employ BJ & Melvin with MM for subtle coloring of tunes, Lindley seems "in your face" with his slide & steel playing which often overwhelms me. Just my unlearned perspective. What do I know...

    1. I liked your U2 choice. Joshua Tree is one of those things that was so big you cease seeing it... It should really be high on my list but... isn't. Might be Bono, might be over familiarity, it just does't hold my heart in the same way as others. It's surely one of the great driving albums...

    2. And Lindley's presence is so prominent that you either have to love it or disengage.
      You're right about BJ's contortions. It's all Marcus and I can do to hold it together when he's in full flight. He's a moaning groaning gurning force of nature and, as has been observed; you never know what you'll get with nature but it'll never let you down.

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