Friday, August 24, 2012

Jackson Browne I'm Alive 1993

There have been many a great break-up record. Standing right there near the top of the list is Jackson Browne's I'm Alive.

Browne is no stranger to the break-up song, but when an entire record is about the same break-up (Browne and Daryl Hannah), it's special.

The record opens with the title track, and it is an affirmation of strength in the face of the new day. The record proceeds with intimate songs of the relationship as it crumbles (My Problem Is You, Miles Away, Two Of Me, Two Of You, and Take This Rain), longing for some gloriously imagined past (Everywhere I Go, I'll Do Anything, All Good Things), and the magnificent resignation of the man who knows he can but only befriend the lover that was before (Sky Blue And Black).

The intimate details are startling, especially in Too Many Angels, but really, throughout. If you've ever taken a big break-up badly, here's your chance to hear what often seems like a familiar point of view. It is both deeply personal and universal. If you haven't felt like the lyrics in one of these songs, you've either been remarkably lucky in love, or you've never felt it.

The songs have good structure. They are mid-tempo rockers and ballads mostly, with a reggae beat thrown in for good measure on one track. The band is highly skilled, with big name guitarists (Waddy Wachtel, Mike Campbell, Scott Thursten), Kevin McCormick on bass and Maurice Lewak on drums (both veterans of Melissa Etheridge's best work), and a cast of talented guests.

But mostly, it's the pain of heartbreak, the looking back, and finally the looking forward. Emotion has always been at the heart of Browne's best work, and when it's all torn up inside, well, he's your guy.

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