Jackson’s artistry was recognized with his 2004 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the honor eloquently delivered by friend and fellow Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen. He also received in 2004 an honorary Doctorate of Music from Occidental College in Los Angeles, for "a remarkable musical career that has successfully combined an intensely personal artistry with a broader vision of social justice."
Browne’s latest album release is 2005’s Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Vol. 1, presenting twelve songs culled from his acclaimed solo acoustic concerts performed worldwide over the past few years. The disc also captures spirited and humorous exchanges between Jackson and his audience, making for an intimate listening experience.
Produced by Jackson Browne and Paul Dieter, the compilation is Browne’s first live release since 1977’s multi-platinum Running On Empty. Featuring solo performances on guitar and piano, the new album's track listing reaches back to Browne’s early years with "These Days" and "Take It Easy," and spans his entire career with other highlights including "Fountain Of Sorrow," "For Everyman," "The Pretender" and "Looking East." Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Vol. 1 also marks the recording debut of a previously unreleased song more than three decades old, "The Birds Of St. Marks," and features a stirring live version of "Lives In The Balance," the title track from Jackson’s powerful 1986 album, which is the new disc’s lead single.
Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic Vol. 1 is available on the recently expanded Inside Recordings, the independent label Browne founded in 1999. It represents Inside’s inaugural release in its new, nationwide direct distribution deal with leading independent music distributor Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA). Inside going direct with ADA allows Browne’s vision of creating an artist-controlled haven for unique music that might not find a home in the mainstream to be more fully realized.
Tracing the roots of Browne’s career leads back to the mid-‘60s and Los Angeles/Orange County folk clubs, where he played solo, and for a brief time, with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Born in Germany to American parents, Jackson moved to Los Angeles at age 3, and, except for a short period living and working in New York City in the late 1960s, has always lived in Southern California.
His integral presence in the coffeehouse scene there ultimately led to his celebrated 1972 debut album, Jackson Browne, on David Geffen´s newly founded Asylum Records. The now-classic LP introduced ten original songs, including "Rock Me On The Water," and "Jamaica Say You Will," featuring David Crosby on harmony vocals. Crosby and Graham Nash performed on "Doctor My Eyes," the album’s first single, which became a #8 hit on Billboard’s pop singles chart. In its review of Jackson Browne, respected online music guide allmusic.com writes, "Like any great artist, Browne articulated the tenor of his times. But the album has long since come to seem a timeless collection of reflective ballads touching on still-difficult subjects…with an amazingly eloquent sense of language. Jackson Browne's greater triumph is that, having perfectly expressed its times, it transcended them as well."
Browne’s 1973 follow-up, For Everyman, was described by Rolling Stone Magazine as "brilliantly conceived" and "incomparably immediate." The album included "These Days," which had been recorded five years earlier by Nico on her Chelsea Girl album. It also featured "Take It Easy," co-written with Glenn Frey, which had been The Eagles’ debut single and breakthrough hit the year before. 1974’s Late For The Sky—cited by Rolling Stone that year as one of the ‘100 Best Albums,’ and again in 1997 as one of the "200 Essential Rock Collection Albums," and in 2003 as one of the ‘500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’—was Jackson’s confessional masterpiece of lyrical introspection. Its classic songs include "Fountain of Sorrow," "The Late Show," and the title track. The Pretender, following two years later, was a breakthrough album—Jackson’s first to chart in the Billboard Top 10, peaking at #5.
On the heels of that success came what stands as Jackson’s top-selling album, 1977’s seven-times platinum, life-on-the-road concept opus Running On Empty. As critic Paul Nelson noted when it was first released, "Running On Empty plays like a documentary film, with shifting scenes, a cast of supporting characters and a clear narrative arc." Recorded onstage, in hotel rooms and on a tour bus, Jackson deftly captured the mise-en-scene of road life before countless MTV rockumentaries made such settings familiar. The album spun off two Top 40 hits—"Running On Empty" and "The Load Out/Stay"—and will soon be available in digital 5.1 surround-sound. Remixed from the original multi-track masters, the DVD-A title will also feature previously unreleased tracks and an extensive photo gallery, shot on the Running On Empty Tour by the now legendary photographer, Joel Bernstein.
Browne’s next project was the all-star series of concerts organized by Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, John Hall and Jackson in 1979 to benefit MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy). In addition to serving on the MUSE Foundation Board, Jackson helped edit and compile the 1980 3-LP live album from those shows. No Nukes/The MUSE Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future featured a line-up including Bruce Springsteen, The Doobie Brothers, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Ry Cooder, Chaka Khan, Peter Tosh, and Tom Petty, among many others. The album, which includes Jackson’s "Before The Deluge," climbed to #23 on Billboard’s pop chart, a considerable feat for a triple-disc collection.
Jackson’s studio work continued with 1980’s Hold Out, a #1 album, featuring the hits "Boulevard" and "That Girl Could Sing." In 1982, Browne scored a #7 hit with the single "Somebody’s Baby," from the soundtrack for Fast Times at Ridgemont High. 1983’s Lawyers In Love also spawned several popular singles, including "Tender Is The Night" and "For A Rocker."
In 1986, Jackson continued to develop his social focus with Lives In The Balance, described by The Washington Post’s Richard Harrington as an album of "sharply etched political songs that question cultural imperialism, foreign policy and the current state of the American Dream." The topical disc was included in Rolling Stone’s 1986 ‘Best 100 Albums,’ and again in their 1990 special issue of ‘100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.’ 1989’s World In Motion was a call to action even more explicitly political than its predecessor. Music critic David Fricke defined the album as, "one of universal truths bound together by a highly personal focus."
I’m Alive was a striking return to the personal and romantic subject matter that characterized Jackson’s earlier work. Released in 1993, and widely considered a career highlight—one reminiscent of Late For The Sky—the disc found Jackson revisiting matters of the heart and soul on tracks including "My Problem Is You" and "Sky Blue and Black." On 1996’s Looking East, which Jackson has called "L.A.-centric," he addresses various aspects of personal growth and social struggles, and their interconnectedness in the world around him. Philosophical and searching, many of the songs were written in collaboration with his band, and the album features guest performances from Luis Conte, Ry Cooder, David Crosby, David Lindley and Bonnie Raitt, among others.
In 1999, Jackson recorded a GRAMMY®-nominated duet version of "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" with Bonnie Raitt for Where Have All The Flowers Gone, Volume 1 of Appleseed Recordings’ multi-artist, three-album tribute to legendary folksinger Pete Seeger. In 2001, he teamed with Joan Baez on an inspired version of "Guantanamera" for If I Had A Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger, the second installment.
2002 marked the release of The Naked Ride Home, Jackson’s first suite of all new songs since Looking East, and one of the most eclectic of his career. Produced by Jackson Browne and Kevin McCormick and mixed by Bob Clearmountain, the album’s intimate live feel perfectly suits the mood of the material, exploring the human condition with a grace and insight that have become the artist’s trademarks. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s web site (rockhall.com), in its write-up on Jackson’s induction, notes that on The Naked Ride Home, "he tied the various strands of his songwriting - from the mystical language of the heart to matters of social and political concern - into a coherent whole."
Jackson Browne’s overall body of work was celebrated in 2004 with the release of Elektra-Rhino’s 2CD compilation The Very Best of Jackson Browne, featuring 32 songs selected from throughout his career. While by no means comprehensive, the collection of hits and favorites is a testament to the heart and soul of the singer and the range of his songwriting. The one earlier compilation of Jackson’s work is Elektra’s 1997 single-disc overview The Next Voice You Hear: The Best of Jackson Browne, which added two new songs to his body of work, "The Next Voice You Hear" and "The Rebel Jesus".
In 2002, Jackson became the fourth recipient of the John Steinbeck Award, given to artists whose works best exemplify the environmental and social values that were essential to the great California-born author. Browne joins a group of honorees that now includes filmmaker John Sayles, playwrights Arthur Miller and Lanford Wilson, musician Bruce Springsteen, authors Tom Wolfe and Kurt Vonnegut, and Studs Terkel.
The search for truth and one´s place in the world remain central to Jackson Browne’s songs. "Everything in life is colored by your personality," Steinbeck once wrote, adding, "but as you mature you become more aware of outside things, less concerned about yourself." In that regard, Jackson has been an ever evolving and maturing creative voice, and a world citizen, for most of his life.