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15.03.04 Bruce´s Speech inducting Jackson Browne into the Rock’n’ Roll Hall of Fame
´´I first met Jackson Browne in the early seventies. It was at the Bitter End. I was brought down there by David Blue, a folk singer, after a set I did at Max's Kansas City. On David Blue's word, Jackson was kind enough to let somebody he'd just met get up on stage and play a song during his set. I watched Jackson play. That night he was accompanied by his great sideman, David Lindley. As I listened that night I knew that this guy was simply one of the best. Each song was like a diamond and my first thought was 'damn, he´s good.' My second thought was 'I need less words.'

The emotions of all the music was right out there on the sleeve and I've remained a major, major fan since then. I remember watching him that night and he was kind of quintessentially California, right down to, like, the lost surfer haircut; good lookin' guy, great songwriter and we became pretty friendly. So over the next few years, Jackson was gracious enough to let me open up at several of his gigs.

Now being a little competitive, the first thing I noticed was Jackson didn't have much of a show. He just stood there in the baggy jeans and the t-shirt, singing his serious songs. That was it. Being a little competitive, I also noticed that Jackson drew an enormous amount of good looking women. Great lookin' women who stood there staring at the stage, entranced. His hair was perfect. And that was something I aspired to myself. Both the hair and the women. So, tonight this is an unlooked-at part of Jackson's work that I'd like to focus on for a moment. The great songwriting? Alright. I could deal with that. I don't need to stand here tonight and dwell on the obvious. But the gals that came to the show! You see, what most people don't realize - and for me this was a big part of Jackson's rock 'n' roll credentials - was that Jackson Browne was a bona fide rock´n´roll sex star. And my wife says he still is. He tried to hide it but not too much, I guess. Now, being a little competitive, I also noticed that while the E Street Band and I were sweatin' our asses off for hours just to put some fannies in the seats, that obviously due to what must have been some strong homo-erotic undercurrent in our music, we were drawing rooms filled with men. Not that great lookin' men either. Meanwhile, Jackson is drawing more women than an Indigo Girls show.

It's true that Jackson wrote some of the most beautiful breakin' up music, break your heart music of all: ´Sky Blue and Black´, ´Linda Paloma’, ´In The Shape of a Heart´. I think that´s what drew women to Jackson, besides the obvious, was that they finally felt they were listening to a guy who knew as much about love as they did. And what drew men to Jackson, besides the obvious, I guess, was that when they listened to him, they realized they knew more about love than they thought they did.

In the seventies, post-Vietnam America, there was no album that captured the fall from Eden, the long, slow after-burn of the sixties; it's heartbreak, it's disappointments, it's spent possibilities better than Jackson's masterpiece, Late For the Sky. It's just a beautiful body of work. It's essential in making sense of the times. ´Before the Deluge´ still gives me goosebumps and it raises me to cause. Late For the Sky, when those car doors slam at the end of the record, they still bring tears. And there was no more searching, yearning, loving music made for and about America at the time.

In this and so much of Jackson's writing, the slow meticulous crafting of the songs, the thoughtfulness. Jackson was one of the first songwriters I met who demonstrated the value of thinking hard about what you were saying, your subject. ´The Pretender´, ´These Days´, ´For Everyman´, ´I'm Alive´, ´Fountain of Sorrow´, ´Running on Empty´, ´For a Dancer´, ´Before the Deluge´. Now, I know the Eagles got in first, but, let's face it, and I think Don Henley would agree with me, these are the songs they wish they'd written. I wish I'd written them myself, along with ´Like A Rolling Stone´ and ´Satisfaction´.
But, uh, Jackson's influence and his voice has always been his own. He's one of the true activist musicians I've ever known. World In Motion, Looking East, Lives In the Balance, he followed his muse wherever it took him. Risked his, and he paid whatever the cost. He's long put his mouth, his money, and his body where his politics are. Lives In The Balance sounds more urgent today than it ever did. The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, they gave us California as paradise and Jackson Browne gave us Paradise Lost.

Now I always imagine, what if Brian Wilson, long after he'd taken a bite of that orange the serpent offered to him, what if he married that nice girl in ´Caroline No´ - I always figured that she was pregnant anyway - and what if he moved into the valley and had two sons? One of them would have looked and sounded just like Jackson Browne. Cain, of course, would have been Jackson's brother-in-arms, Warren Zevon. We love you, Warren. But, Jackson to me, Jackson was always the tempered voice of Abel. Toiling in the vineyards, here to bear the earthly burdens, confronting the impossibility of love, here to do his father's work.

Jackson's work was really California pop gospel. Listen to the chord changes of ´Rock Me On the Water´ and ´Before the Deluge´, it's gospel through and through. Now I always thought that in our fall from Eden, besides the strains of physicality and the bearing of earthly burdens, our real earthly task was that an unbridgeable gap, or a black hole was opened up in our ability to truly love one another. And so our job here on earth, the way we regain our divinity, our sacredness, and our general good-standing is by reconstructing love and creating love out of the broken pieces that we've been given. That's all we have of human promise. That's the way we prove ourselves in the eyes of God and facilitate our own redemption. Now, to me Jackson Browne's work was always the sound of that reconstruction. So as he writes in ´The Pretender´: ´We'll put our dark glasses on, and we'll make love until our strength is gone, and when the morning light comes shinin' in, we'll get up and do it again´. Amen.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming my very handsome friend, Jackson Browne into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.´´

Compiled by : Johanna Pirttijärvi


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Page last edited by Peteadmin on Jan 21, 2016 5:38 am
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