Jackson Browne, again.
Let’s talk about Jackson Browne! Again? you ask…Oh I know what you’re thinking–“she must be stalking him and we should tell someone.” I am not stalking Jackson Browne. And I’m not a groupie. I don’t like to travel that much. But I am a huge fan. And yes, I do have an occasional fantasy about him as mentioned in a previous post (Musings of a Real Housewife of Lewis County), and I did kinda wish I could just peek inside the band buses last night parked behind the venue, but that’s all harmless nonsense. If I was a stalker, I would have crouched down between the buses and waited for him to come out and then thrown myself at him, but damn I would have missed a really good show. And yeah I think maybe I may have mentioned him in My Generations Music also, but who’s counting? So now that you know where I stand on Jackson, (I’m a fan, not a stalker, not a groupie, although I might be if I was younger and thinner and liked to travel), let’s talk.
We were lucky enough to catch his concert last night at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. Portland is an awesome place to enjoy a concert. The crowds are great–lots of fun, but respectful and polite–there was even a slight fender bender in the parking garage as we left and no one got pissed off and punched anyone, no flipping off, no horn blowing. As a couple of east coast transplants we are always amazed at how congenial people in the Northwest are. Maybe it’s the legal recreational substances, I don’t know. My husband and I were joking about how if we had witnessed the same thing in New Haven or Hartford, where we used to catch concerts as kids, it could have ended up more like a scene from Fight club than all about peace, love and understanding. No offense meant to the East Coasters out there, but it wouldn’t hurt to lighten up a little is all I’m saying. I’ll cut you some slack though, because, I know, it’s a stressful place to live.
I’ve seen Jackson Browne live four or five times now, and I’m always impressed with what a humble guy he is. It’s pretty amazing considering he has been writing music and recording for close to fifty years. I’ve been listening to him for over forty years, (it started in the womb) and I’m still baffled at how his lyrics can make me, a not so sentimental, raised by wolves (okay, they were actually older brothers, but they were still animals), stable and intellectual aging hippy woman, weep… like a child…after 40 years.
Have you listened to Late for the Sky, or For a Dancer? If not, shame on you. Google it right now. Jackson is gifted. He can translate questions, and insights and experiences into words, gorgeous words, and then set everything to music that is incredibly pleasing to the ear. Even when he’s addressing complex issues or divisive political themes, like in his song Looking East, the music still sounds so beautiful.
And Jackson doesn’t just write about issues like what’s wrong with our political system or the dismal state of the environment, he addresses them with his charitable work. Which gives him so much respectability. When he spoke to the audience last night about money in politics, and our threatened oceans, and the suffering in Haiti, we listened. I was sitting there thinking, “this man is so respected by this audience.” He never preaches, he gently nudges you and say’s “Hey, what about the fact that every plastic bottle ever made is still here?”Just so happens, as I heard those words last night, I was guiltily kneading the four dollar and fifty cent plastic bottle of water I had just purchased and thinking dehydration might be a better option. For the record, I’d like to say I do not drink bottled water except on very rare occasions, and I’m Sorry.
So last night was sublime. The words, the music, the respect. The crowd was happy and mellow. The band was awesome–tight and professional. The concert hall lovely– all granite and marble and wood filigreed panels. Jackson, as always, was friendly, self-effacing, and giving respect back to the audience. He’s a gracious entertainer. He told funny stories, he talked about issues, he engaged the audience with words and music. And somehow, he melded the teaching moments and the entertaining moments so seamlessly together, there was no difference at all. It was all so good.
It might sound corny, but an evening like that gives me hope. It makes me think that there are still a lot of people out there who are paying attention to the issues that we face and who are willing to sit and listen to and digest the message and respect the messenger. There are still people out there who are hungry to be educated and not simply entertained. There are still people out there who are serious about peace, love and understanding.
So thanks, Portland concert goers, for being the generous, intellectual, courteous people that you are. And thanks for not fist-fighting in the parking garage.
And thanks, Jackson, for the entertainment, the education, and the respect. It was a beautiful thing. And I hope you felt the love, because man, we sure did.