I hadn’t listened to Jackson Browne in years, and rarely hear his music played on the radio anymore, but the other day I heard For Everyman, the title cut off of his 2nd album, now an incredible 38 years ago. And that got to me to thinking, I used to love Jackson Browne, and now I wouldn’t even think twice about buying a new JB CD or go see him live, it wouldn’t even be a consideration, not going to happen. But those first 5 albums: Jackson Browne featuring the classic Doctor My Eyes, Jamaica Say You Will, Rock me on the Water; For Everyman featuring the title track, the incredible These Days, Ready or Not, Red-Neck Friend and the song that would launch the career of The Eagles, Take it Easy; 1974 gave us “Late for the Sky” where nearly every cut on the album was superb, the title track, Fountain of Sorrow, Farther On, The Late Show, The Road and the Sky, For a Dance, and Before the Deluge; 2 years later gave us the highly anticipated and much-hyped (produced by Springsteen mgr. and producer, Jon Landau) and while not up to the standards of the first 3 albums still supplied us with the title cut, Hear Come Those Tears Again, The Fuse and Linda Paloma; finally 1977 saw the end of this amazing run with Running on Empty, which again had the great title song, The Road, Rosie, Cocaine, You Love the Thunder, The Load Out and Stay…and then for me it all ended. Not another album for 3 years, and then to be nothing! What happened to Jackson B? Was the well empty, was it drugs, was it all delivered in an incredible 5 year/5 album run that can equal anyones? Sure there were other memorable songs over the next 30 years I suppose, but nothing of the magnitude of 72-77. And this is where Doc Gooden comes in. I was wondering if I could recall another career trajectory like this one, and it came to me in a flash, The NY Met’s phenom pitcher of the 80’s Doc Gooden. His first 5 seasons were spectacular and seemed to predict a Hall of Fame career that would undoubtedly set records, and then it was gone. Doc would pitch for another 11 seasons, but was mostly a journeyman, sure there were flashes of the old Doc, the no-hitter for the Yankees in 1996, but mostly he was a non-entity, or exactly what Jackson Browne became in the music world, just another singer-songwriter, who would occassionally release a strong strong, but was longer at the upper echelon of his craft.
Both should have been legends, but both while being remembered fondly are just footnotes in their crafts. What happened to Jackson Browne? Could it have been the same thing that cut down Gooden? Could have been the cocaine that he sang about on Runnin on Empty (need some white powder to overcome that feeling) that was the substance that we know destroyed Doc?
Who disagrees with me on this one?