Record #346: Jackson Browne – For Everyman (1973)

Record #346: Jackson Browne – For Everyman (1973)
As much as my tastes may veer toward post rock, shoegaze, Krautrock, metal, and other less-mainstream waters, I do have a huge soft spot for old Americana (“Born to Run” gives me life every time I hear it). But for all my affinity for the Boss, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, and Dire Straits, I’ve never spent much time digging into Jackson Browne’s catalogue, which I have been told is a real shame. 
I was sold on a couple Browne albums by a merchant at a garage sale selling records three for $5 (this is also where I picked up most of my Chicago. That was a year ago. I haven’t listened to either Jackson Browne records yet (though I have cried before when “Running On Empty” has come on the radio). 

For Everyman, his second record, is, by several accounts, his best work, and a few songs in, it’s easy to see why. This record is spellbinding. It opens with his arrangement of “Take It Easy,” cowritten with the Eagles’ Glen Frey and released the same year. Browne’s version is the more nuanced of the two versions, allowing the somberness of the lyrics room to breathe (in what universe is being torn between seven women something to brag about? Jackson sings it with the tension it deserves).

The disc as a whole showcases his tendency to restrain the band into subtler, more emotive arrangements when lesser band leaders would crank up the amps and let the drums take off. This restraint leaves room for his heartfelt wit, allowing his words room to breathe. Accordingly, the weakest track on the album is bluesy, raucous “Redneck Friend,” which has none of the emotional heft of anything else here. But thankfully, that’s only one song, and it’s fun enough that it doesn’t taint the rest of the album, which is heartbreaking in the way that the best Americana (Springsteen’s Nebraska, Seger’s “Against the Wind”) is heartbreaking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s