With grizzled folk-rock peers Bob Dylan
and Neil Young reinventing their careers, the challenge is for
quintessential 70s California singer-songwriter Jackson
Browne to do the same. In three Tokyo concerts that begin tonight
at the sit-down Nakano Sun Plaza, Browne will see if he can
light a new fire under a Japanese audience that hasnt
heard from him in five years.
|The challenge of remaining
Unlike fellow West Coast Mellow Mafia war horses the Eagles,
who seem content to squeeze as many dollars as possible out
of hits such as Take It Easy (penned, interestingly,
by Browne with Eagles singer Glen Frey), Browne at the very
least is determined not to stand still. He arrives with a fresh
batch of songs in the form of his latest album, The Naked Ride
Home (Elektra), his first in five years.
Following 1996s Looking East, the album takes up some
of Brownes preferred themes: relationships gone wrong
and tart socio-political observations of a world losing its
balance. The title track, for instance, bemoans the breakdown
of communication in a relationship, with Browne singing, I
failed to hear the heart that was beating alone/On the naked
ride home, while Casino Nation takes aim at
George W. Bushs weapons-producing nation under Jesus.
In an interview with Virgin Radio in the UK, Browne touched
on the question of how a singer-songwriter can speak to a new
generation after decades in the limelight. Bonnie Raitt,
having been there for 20 years, really made a record that captured
everybodys attention...I think that people are beginning
to notice songwriters, and ones who have been there for a long
time. Theres an endless lineage of songwriting as an art
and as a craft that can be overlooked by whole generations.
Browne also said he still gets a buzz out of playing his trademark
songs, like Running On Empty. There are always
new people in the audience, and there are obviously new people
being born every day, so its exciting when a young audience
comes to your music and discovers it, he commented. The
body of my work comprises a sort of lineage of thought and development.
[When] the songs you write in your youth have stood the test
of time, and [when] it's still possible to play them with conviction
and even greater resonance in your life, it's a very rewarding
thing, you know?
Jackson Browne plays Nakano Sun Plaza
May 2-4. See listings for details.
Photo courtesy of Smash