I feel as though Jackson Browne has gotten a bit of unwarranted flak and even disrespect among music snobs – myself included. Growing up, I always thought his material was pretty cheeseball, but the fact of the matter is that the man has written some goddamn beautiful songs. “Jamaica Say You Will,” “For Everyman” and “These Days” are all amazing tunes.
Up until about five years or so ago, I had always thought “These Days” was a Nico song that Browne covered, when it was actually the other way around. My assumption was logical though, being that Nico released it in ’67 and Browne didn’t put it to tape until the For Everyman sessions in 1973. But my father corrected me one day when I said “Hey, who is this covering Nico?” I then went on to learn that before he became an established, professional solo artist, Browne was just a precocious songwriter looking to sell his wares to anyone who would buy them.
Nico, along with “producer” Andy Warhol picked up the tune and ran with it on her album Chelsea Girl. The end result was a sad, melancholy ballad that is easily one of the best songs of the ’60s. Also noteworthy is that Jackson Browne was only 16-years-old when he penned “These Days” — pretty heavy material for someone so young and inexperienced in the ways of life, love and loss.
Even his overproduced hits like “Running On Empty” and the kinda cheesy, yet commendable salute to the hard-working roadies of the music business, “The Load-Out” are great tunes when it really comes down to it.
In any event, I haven’t thought about Jackson Browne in a long-ass time, and I never really thought I’d see him pop up on one of the Tiny Desk Concerts, but here he is. Browne stopped by the NPR Music headquarters to perform a few tunes and promote his new record Standing In The Breach.