Jackson Browne Talks New Video and Tour Safety Issues
Jackson Browne is the first to admit that he hasn’t watched some of his old music videos often. Like 1983’s “Lawyers in Love,” a dig into yuppie culture and American-Soviet playfulness, complete with alien children? “Oh my God,” he half laughs and half moans. “It was really badly done. There are some good ideas there. I like the briefcase dance scene. But I don’t think people were expecting a satirical song from me. That might have helped let people know that this was some kind of parody i did a few [videos] I like it, but in general what this showed me is that you have a good chance of downscaling and downscaling a song by giving it specific frames.
Browne’s striking new alternate video for “Minutes to Downtown” leaves little room for misinterpretation. Directed by his son Ryan, it simply features Browne tooling around Los Angeles, with no beginning, middle, or end. “The song is about wanting to be somewhere else, but for some reason you’re tied to where you live and the things you do,” he says of the Descent from everywhere Track. “So I wanted me to drive. For me, the video has a particularity, it is that nothing happens. You’re not getting anywhere, are you? We don’t even see him syncing the song: “We tried a few versions of this, but now it’s like I’m hearing the song while I’m driving.”
Browne admits the shoot, which took place over two days in various neighborhoods, had its challenges. “Being in front of the camera, I couldn’t speak,” he says. “As we were driving all over LA, I wanted to talk to Ryan and the crew about all the different places we were going through, because I’ve lived here all my life. And he was like, ‘Tell us later, Dad. ‘ And then there was the chosen vehicle itself, which was suitably retro. “The fucking car was a stick,” he says. “That could have been a problem, but it wasn’t. Everything it comes back in. It’s very different from driving an electric car.
During his summer tour, which begins Friday in St. Louis, Browne will perform “Minutes to Downtown” for the first time on stage, along with other songs by Descent from everywhere. He also promises seldom-heard deep catalog tracks, like “Sky Blue and Black” – one of several dozen songs he’ll spin on and off the set.
In the past, Browne and his band would have rehearsed these tracks ahead of time, but the pandemic has ruined those plans. During his recently concluded spring shows with James Taylor, Browne and his team were largely spared the virus, thanks to regular testing. But just after returning home, Browne says his entire band and crew tested positive. (Browne himself contracted the virus two years ago.) As a result, the warm-up time for summer shows has been reduced, meaning he and the band will be working on some of those rarities during the sound checks, and it will be, he says. , “I just call songs that people haven’t really rehearsed. But it will be fun.
Browne still isn’t sure what happened when Taylor’s tour ended. “We were really good at protocol,” he says. “We tested every day. It’s really expensive to do it, but that’s how we were able to continue. He admits it has occurred to him that the band members might be left behind, leaving him to have to rearrange some gigs at the last minute. “You like to think that if you were the last one standing, you could still do a set,” he muses. “But it would become a very different show.”
Under normal circumstances, Browne would be pretty excited about gearing up for a tour, especially since these will be the first headlining shows in a while. But in light of the ongoing pandemic and the recent gruesome string of shootings across the country, he admits the mood is different this season. “I’ve never felt that on the road,” he says. “You care about the safety of the people you are with. It can happen to go to the store, right? I’m in a biracial group. Once I got a death threat from a weirdo. He said I was a “race traitor”. It just means that you have to take all sorts of security measures.
“It’s a heartbreaking time,” he said with an audible sigh. “It’s so vast, the implications of what happens so frequently with mass shootings, the polarization of our country around ideology. It’s hard to look up above all of this and see the lasting qualities we believe in. What’s worth it is to get on stage and perform. It’s always a thrill.