I don’t really think much of Jackson Browne. He’s always been a staple of classic rock radio, but I never especially sought him out. His voice is unique and recognizable although if pressed I can’t think of the names of any of his songs (but I’d know them immediately if I heard them).
Bob Boilen talked with Browne in his book and that’s where I learned that Browne dated Nico from The Velvet Underground fame and even wrote songs for her. I also learned that he is quite the activist. And that he plays a lot in California with various performers (the blurb says “he’s largely free of obligations”–that’s a nice phrasing).
He plays three songs here. I assume they’re all new as I don’t recognize them. And they all sound very much like Jackson Browne. He voice is largely the same although it does crack and break a few times (could that be the setting or the time of day or does he just accept that he’s getting older?).
It’s also interesting that Browne plays the rhythm guitar for most of the songs–allowing Val McCallum to play the lead guitar and Greg Leisz to play “all manner of stringed things” (including the slide guitar solos).
The three songs are “Call It A Loan,” “The Barricades Of Heaven” and “Long Way Around.” I’m surprised at just how long these three songs are (the whole set comes in around 20 minutes).
Before “Long Way Around” (which is quite political), he says that they’re “Lucky to play for such an informed group.” Bob says they stopped the news–there’s no news being made–so that Browne could play.
Some of the lines in “Long Way Around” are: “It’s hard to say which did more ill, Citizen United or the gulf oil spill” and “It’s never been that hard to buy a gun, now they’ll sell a Glock 19 to just about anyone.”
The songs are nicely accentuated by the backing vocals of Jeff Young who also plays keyboards for them but which they couldn’t bring.
This is a delightful, mellow (and thoughtful) set of music (with a huge crowd watching). And there’s a funny moment at the end where someone triggers a James Brown doll and Browne does a pretty good “hit me!”
[READ: March 2, 2016] How the World Was
I was intrigued to read this book by Emmanuel Guibert because I’ve really enjoyed his work lately. But how was I to know that How the World Was is a prequel of sorts to Alan’s War? It was also translated by Kathryn Pulver.
This book is a”loving, immersive portrait of Alan Cope.” Cope was born in 1925 when California was still the frontier and life was simpler and harsher. And Guibert felt that it was a gift for Cope “in the last moments of his life” (unlike in Alan’s War there’s no word on whether Cope saw this book).
So this book is indeed all about Cope’s childhood. And while he did have some pretty interesting things happen to him, his childhood was in no way extraordinary. This is just a simple portrait of growing up in Californians in the 1920 s and 1930s as seen from one man’s eyes.
Cope talks about the amusing way his parents met and the simple games they played swinging on a California pepper tree. Perhaps the most memorable/amusing moment in the book comes from the memory that Cope retained all his life.
His mother informed him that he must never touch his penis. If he had to pee–do it quickly. She said God would be very mad otherwise. That night a hornet was in the air vent making a crazy loud scary noise, which he had associated with God. And those two events stayed with him all is life. He says it was long into his adulthood before he allowed himself to handle his penis for more than just to pee (not that he was chaste or anything, he just created a weird superstition for himself).
He speaks of taking trips to relatives’ houses, of seeing the ocean, of seeing a rattlesnake (and capturing black widows).
There a brief story about his grandparents on both sides and how incredibly cheap his grandfather was–he made his wife write down every single expense she had.
There’s a wonderfully dangerous game he made for himself which involved riding down the street in a red wagon, on a chair that was precariously balanced on the wagon. There’s also some scenes of the birds he would craft from the pods of camphor laurel trees and feathers from the local haberdasher.
And then he speaks about his mother and her operation. She had trouble when giving birth to him and was due for “total.” But she didn’t survive the operation and his whole life changed
There’s nothing “special” about this book except that it is a beautiful memoir to a man who is ordinary in many ways and yet also very interesting for his memories and his ability to process the events of his life. Combine this with Guibert’s (to me more and more amazing) drawing style which is so simple and yet so photo-realistic and you have an amazing portrait of everyday life in the 1920s and 30s.