The Birds Of St. Marks

“This is a sketch of Nico [the German singer-songwriter who was a big part of the Warhol scene – Ed] that I wrote in the late Sixties.”Jackson Browne (483)

The Pretender

“The idea is that we’re pretending to go along with something that isn’t quite where we belong, a default version or reality, with a job and a house.”Jackson Browne (483)
“I’m a big fan of ambiguity and its bountiful rewards, and ‘The Pretender’ is two things at once. It’s that person in all of us that has a higher ideal, and the part that has settled for compromise – like Truffaut says, there’s the movie you set out to make, and there’s the one you settle for. But in a more serious way, ‘The Pretender’ is about ’60s idealism, the idea of life being about love and brotherhood, justice, social change and enlightenment, those concepts we were flooded with as our generation hit its stride; and how, later, we settled for something quite different. So when I say ‘Say a prayer for The Pretender’, I’m talking about those people who are trying to convince themselves that there really was nothing to that idealism.”Jackson Browne (609)

The Road

“This came from the album “Running on Empty” which is about what it’s like to be on the road. In this song there is a segue from the quiet of the hotel room to where you suddenly hear the audience and the band comes in – showing the contrast between those realities.”Jackson Browne (483)

The Load-Out/Stay

“”The Load-Out” is a love song to the audience and the crew. I was always tight with certain members of the crew – my manager used to be my crew chief; he used to tune guitars. They always took care of you. Then this one turns into “Stay” – on that, we’re actually asking the audience to stay, because we don’t want to stop playing.”Jackson Browne (483)

For America

“Politically, I was galvanized by the Reagan presidency, that so many people were accepting his version of “Morning in America.” There is a lot of self-criticism in this song – waking up after you’ve been asleep and feeling responsible for not knowing what was going on. That’s the feeling I wanted to pass on, that we are responsible for what the government does.”Jackson Browne (483)

The Naked Ride Home

“The song signals the end of a relationship. It plays a trick on the listener, and starts off with something like a line being said in a bar: “‘Take off your clothes and I’ll drive you home,’ I said.” You don’t find out until the last verse that this is a couple, people who are driving home to their house. He’s trying to rekindle something, and it’s not working out.”Jackson Browne (483)

Standing In The Breach

“This song started out to be about the earthquake in Haiti. But it was more than a year before I could finish it. I realized, in the first few lines, that I was taking on a subject that was a challenge – “And though the earth may tremble and our foundations crack/We will all assemble and we will build them back.” You can’t build those foundations without dealing with the racism, colonialism, that were in there.”Jackson Browne (483)

Ready Or Not

“I don’t do that song any more because that’s about my wife. The song is about somebody and the conclusion is rather tentative; hopefully you’re sort of poised. I can no longer sing that song. It’s not what’s happening. I don’t feel that way any more.”Jackson Browne (610)