Doctor, My Eyes

“I had a really severe eye condition. My eyes were so red I almost couldn’t open them. Couldn’t close them. And I didn’t know what it was. Probably some sort of drug-induced condition. So it was a song about life in which the metaphor took over and it became the loss of innocence.”Jackson Browne (173)

Jamaica, Say You Will

“I wrote that song for a girl I was seeing who lived nearby the ocean. She worked for this old Italian guy in a garden. An organic vegetable farm overlooking Zuma Beach. And I used to go visit her. And it was a pretty idyllic time. She was very beautiful, and ideologically she was into yoga and vegetarianism and organic gardening. I was really crazy about her, but I wasn’t into any of those things. And I’d go hang with her and she’d pick figs and I’d feel transported into some sort of Maxfield Parrish landscape – that sort of dry fig orchard with this very beautiful girl. I wrote this song for her. It was sort of a metaphor. Later I realized that that song really wasn’t really about her. As much as she inspired me, what I was really talking about was a relationship which I’d concluded a few months before, and which had been going on for two or three years. She was really drawn to an adult world and I just wanted to stay indoors and make love. So the song’s about a girl who’s going to sail away with her father and go into the world, and a guy who wants to stay there in that idyllic world.”Jackson Browne (174)

Rock Me On The Water

“It’s sort of an ode to sexual pleasure and enjoyment and peace and love in the midst of a sort of apocalyptic scenario. I used to read a lot of Eldridge Cleaver and Booby Seale and political stuff then, having to do with the inevitability of revolution. And, I saw by that time, the late sixties, that there had been a lot of upheaval. I think that that stuff came from the very center of me: the desire for love and peace and release and reconciliation with the spiritual.”Jackson Browne (174)

My Opening Farewell

“It’s another one of those songs that’s about a specific relationship. It’s about this point in time in a relationship, and a place where we were living. Elektra had this recording ranch up in northern California and we stayed at this hotel. And a train ran by it. So: “there’s a train every day, leaving either way,” the whole idea that you could go one way or the other. And this relationship was struggling. The song is about the particular moment when you recognize that the person you love wants to be anywhere else. Wants to be gone, wants to move on.”Jackson Browne (175)

For Everyman

“I think I started writing that song one night at Glenn Frey and Don Henley’s apartment. They had some neighbors next door and they had been playing Grand Funk really loud and there was some one-line thing that was repeating – a really thick refrain to the song. A year later I was still writing it, trying to ask myself what the song was about. I guess “Everyman” is the vague reference to the thing that makes us all the same – the thing that is the thread that runs through every life, the human experience.”Jackson Browne (175)
“I remember being in Glenn and Don Henley’s apartment one night. The guy next door was playing this Grand Funk Railroad song, “Get It Together.” I was thinking, “Get what together?” That’s what “For Everyman” was. It’s about the expectations we had, all the changes in the Sixties that had burned out by 1972, ’73. It’s meant to be an expression of the search for connection with others, for common purpose. Those concepts are so iffy. But you have to be willing to express your doubt, then find inner resolve – that decision in yourself to try.”Jackson Browne (483)

Fountain Of Sorrow

“I like the opening line: “I was taken by a photograph of you.” Not only is it a play on words but the double entendre of the word “taken,” to be taken by something is to be attracted to it. But also it reverses itself again and you think, I was defined in that moment by this relationship to you.”Jackson Browne (176)
“This is me recounting a relationship – how in spite of all this beauty and meaning, two people don’t stay together. It’s about recognizing the other person’s value for the first time. It’s pretty vérité – I was looking at a photograph when I wrote this. But there is good reason not to populate songs with actual names. When you hear the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” what are you thinking about? Someone you know or knew. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, rather than thinking about Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful.”Jackson Browne (483)
“This talks about disappointment, but in a forgiving way. It acknowledges that people are always looking for something in each other that they may not find, and says that not only is that OK, but what’s more enduring is the goodwill and acceptance of each others’ right to be on this search and to make your own choices, and that one’s longing or sorrow is part of your own search, not a by-product of somebody else’s. An important song for me.”Jackson Browne (609)

Looking East

“The title came first from something Luis Conte, our percussionist, said in an African store. He put on a feathered crown and said “Looking East” to us like Hannibal looking towards the Alps. The song kind of reverses the Kerouac-inspired American westward tradition. There’s also the added connotation of Hermann Hesse’s journey to the east. Which is really a metaphor for a journey to the self. A spiritual journey. So I like that added connotation to the one of simply looking back and taking stock of the country. The song is about hungering for a connection with real power and real meaning. The hunger is not about poverty. Because I say, “hunger in the mansion.” It’s kind of hunger that’s there even with great wealth.”Jackson Browne (177)

The Only Child

“‘Only Child’, on the new album, is very similar to that song [Ready Or Not – Ed] in a way and it’s really for her [Browne’s wife, the subject of Ready Or Not – Ed] and it’s for my son [Ethan – Ed] too but it’s like two different people on the same subject. It’s written to Ethan warning him of the life that lies ahead.”Jackson Browne (610)