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Jackson Browne's learning that taking it easy makes things better
At this juncture of his career, with more than 40 years and 14 albums behind him, Jackson Browne is approaching music in a different way.
"I'm not really in a hurry that much anymore," the singer-songwriter -- whose "Take It Easy" became a hit for The Eagles in 1972, as Browne was releasing his debut album -- says by phone from his home in California. "I used to only tour when I had an album and was on that cycle of getting a record out and then going out and touring.
"I think I'm just biding my time in a different way now. There's so many other things going on musically, various projects that interest me -- and one of them is to go play (live). I still like doing the records and I'll keep doing them, but if I don't feel like I have to wait anymore to have one out to go tour or do shows or anything like that."
There was, in fact, a six-year gap between Browne's latest album, "Standing in the Breach" -- which came out last October -- and its predecessor. That led to what he calls an "organic" collection of material, featuring 10 songs "written over a period of several years" rather than being conceived as a single piece of work.
In the case of the opening track "The Birds of St. Marks," the trail goes back decades. "That's a song I wrote when I was 18," says Browne, 66, a 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. "It was a song that I subsequently forgot about because I couldn't really play it the way I heard it. It just receded in my memory." But when I got Greg Leisz on the album and realized the guy who could play the song the way I heard was right there, right in front of me, we did it, and that was actually the start of the record."
"Standing in the Breach" has other song adventures, too, including a new English translation of Cuban singer-songwriter Carlos Varela's "Walls and Doors" and "You Know the Right," a song Browne and bassist Rob Wasserman composed for a set of lyrics by Woody Guthrie. "We had so much fun," Browne says. "These songs really are the beneficiary of several years of sitting in with other people and seeing what people like, getting to walk on stage and play for an audience. You just go for what feels good."
So can we expect the next album to come sooner than another six years?
"Oh, I don't know," Browne says with a laugh. "I don't know how long it will take to get enough songs that I like. There's a lot of factors that make it either a really productive period of time or not. I think it's more and more important to me that it be good, not fast -- or faster than I usually am.
"I've put a lot of music out there already, so I feel like if there's going to be more, it needs to really be something that feels special."
Jackson Browne with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6
Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills.
Tickets are $40.50-$99.50 pavilion, $31 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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