For decades he was a kind of showcase songwriter of West Coast rock: a beau with catchy songs, famous musician friends, dapper playmates and hippie lifestyle and an exemplary political and environmental activist. But at the age of 72, even Jackson Browne has to shift down a few gears. This manifests itself in increasingly rare albums, tours and interviews. With "Downhill From Everywhere" he releases his first sign of life in seven years - an ambitious late work that comes across as versatile and gentle at the same time
Sometimes it is difficult to simply ask openly and directly what you want to know from your counterpart. After all, you don't want to offend or even hurt anyone. Like in one of Jackson Browne's rare interviews at the end of April: He's sitting in his private studio in Santa Monica, California, playing the graying prince charming and acting as if his career is still going just as well as it was in the 70s and 80s and as if the obvious drop in popularity had never happened. So at first he doesn't want to understand the question "What happened?": "I don't know what you're talking about - not by any stretch of the imagination. Are you saying I was popular and now I'm not?"
Victims of one's own convictions
After the discreet hint that he still filled European multi-purpose halls in 1986, was co-headliner of the last "Rockpalast Nacht" in Essen's Grugahalle and released his last really successful studio album with "Lives In The Balance", he gets more brooding and self-critical though. First he argues that he never felt his music was really understood and appreciated in non-Anglophile countries anyway - a resounding slap in the face not only for all German fans. Then he pauses: "Maybe I should rephrase that. O. K., I hear now and then that my music is less accessible and suitable for the masses since I concentrate more on political and social topics. But that was simply a reaction in the mid-80s to the fact that nobody in the USA was interested in politics. And when you then deal with such a sensitive subject as American actions in South America and the support of dictators and coup plotters, of all things, it's not uncommon to meet with head-shaking. And I think that's what happened to me: I took on uncomfortable issues that were close to my heart - but unfortunately not to most people."