Friday, May 25, 2007

Hey Kids, If You Like Bruce Springsteen, You Might Like Jackson Browne Too

I feel like these two guys have some similarities. I think us guys from New Jersey have had a lot more exposure to The Boss than to Jackson because, well first we're from New Jersey, and secondly because Bruce is far more famous in general sense than Jackson Browne is. But I think they have several things in common.

Let me just say that none of these ideas are really my original thoughts, rather they're gleaned from what other people say about both these guys, but I don't think I've ever heard them compared, and it occurred to me that you can say a lot of the same things about both of them. When I say they're similar, I don't mean that they play the same type of music. Bruce plays guitar rock, and Jackson Browne is more of a piano rock/singer songwriter kind of style. But both of them came around in the '70s and both write those storyteller kind of songs.

The Springsteen songs that you love, well, that I love, like Thunder Road and The River are not only great music, but tell a story that you get involved in. I recently bought a few of the early Springsteen albums (Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Greetings From Asbury Park New Jersey, The Wild The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle) and the earliest ones especially (Greetings, Darkness) consist of Bruce telling stories that he wrote while also playing the guitar. Each line is packed with words to the extent that you feel like not all the words are going to fit into the natural break in the music ("Blinded By The Light" is a perfect example). Bruce is generally regarded as the guy who represents that blue collar, union working, paycheck to paycheck kind of life. Mainly because his songs describe that life with such clarity ("The River", "Glory Days", "Born in the USA", "Thunder Road", need I go on?). I think that last one is a sentence fragment.

I've never really heard of people talking about being fans of Jackson Browne, or ever listening to his music, but it's pretty great. Jackson, like I said earlier, came out around the same time as Bruce, in the early '70s. And every single song is a new story. I recently bought a couple of his albums (Late For The Sky, The Pretender) and I really like them. You get into the story and the music fits each song really well.

I'll try to tell the short version of this story, but I bought those albums based mainly on the strength of one song, "The Pretender". That has been one of my favorite songs for a while now, and I figured that the guy who wrote that song must have some other great songs. So I looked him up on the interweb and read the reviews of his albums and the general consensus seems to be that Jackson Browne is a songwriter that encapsulates the '70 Southern California lifestyle in a way that Springsteen encapsulates that aforementioned blue collar lifestyle. (Aforementioned; fabulous word)

Most of Jackson's songs are really mellow, span anywhere from 5 to 6 minutes, and leave a lot of room to tell a beginning, middle, and end of a story. My feeling is that if you like some of Springsteen's mellower stuff, "The River" comes to mind, and the storytelling aspect of the Springsteen music, then you might really get into Jackson Browne as well. I don't really identify with the 1970's Southern California lifestyle, but the music pulls you in anyway. "The Pretender" is one of the best songs ever, and the album of the same name is quality fare.

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