CK Retro Review: For Everyman by Jackson BrownePosted: September 25, 2014
Jackson Browne’s second studio album suffers a bit only in comparison to the albums immediately preceding and following it in Browne’s catalog (as would a vast majority of all albums ever made.) But while there may not be any stone-cold classics on 1973’s For Everyman, Browne was still writing consistently insightful and emotionally stirring songs which he performed with equal bits of humor and heart. Here is a song-by-song review.
10. “Colors Of The Sun”- If there’s an overarching weakness to For Everyman, it’s that there are lots of wonderful moments but some of those moments are hidden on uneven songs. “Colors Of The Sun” suffers from this and doesn’t have enough of those moments to completely save it.
9. “Our Lady Of The Well”- Browne wrote often about the topic of the way modern life tends to crush the beauty of nature, sometimes brilliantly (“Before The Deluge”, for one.) This early crack it is OK if a bit ponderous, although the instrumental coda at the end is lovely.
8. “Take It Easy”- It was only fair that Browne got to take a shot at this huge hit for The Eagles since he co-wrote it for Glenn Frey. He does it well enough and the song’s easygoing nature has always been hard to resist, but it fits Frey better than it fits him.
7. “I Thought I Was A Child”- The music is at its best on this track when it sticks to just piano and guitar; when the tempo kicks in from time to time, the magic dissipates just a bit, deadening the impact of one of the better sets of lyrics on the album.
6. “Sing My Songs To Me”- This is one of those songs where it doesn’t even seem to matter what Browne is singing because the combination of the wistful melody and his yearning vocal cast a spell that’s independent of everything else that’s happeninn. It’s also nifty how it fades into the closing track.
5. “Redneck Friend”- This one sunk as a single, perhaps because Browne’s sly humor when undetected. The recording sizzles thanks to Lindley’s slide being utilized for power instead of pathos for a change and Elton John providing some recklessly rocking piano. The innuendo suggests a sexual solution to the problems of the girl in the song, but what Browne is really advocating is for her to cut loose and not worry about either the consequences or what people might think.
4. “These Days”- Nico gave us an ethereal version and Gregg Allman offered probably the definitive vocal take on it. Browne’s own stab at his old-soul lyric is abetted by great session work from David Lindley, Jim Keltner, and others. “Don’t confront me with my failure/I had not forgotten them” is still one of the most bittersweet finishes to any self-searching song you’ll ever hear.
3. “Ready Or Not”- For Everyman might have been a bit of a sideways step after the wonderful debut album, but one area where Browne was fast improving was his ability to lighten up a little bit. The bewildered and bemused reaction of the hard-living narrator here is priceless, as an unwanted pregnancy goes from the thing he most feared to the thing that just might save his wayward life. Lindley’s electric fiddle carries the music weightlessly along to the surprisingly happy ending.
2. “For Everyman”- This song has always been a bit elusive, a kind of answer record to “Wooden Ships” by CSN that offers far more questions than answers. Which is Browne’s point, since those offering the answers can’t necessarily be trusted. By the same token, he suggests that those who just yield to the oncoming darkness aren’t doing themselves any favors either. The only definitive stand he takes is to say that we should stick together, which would be a facile message in any other hands but here seems novel and infinitely wise.
1. “The Times You’ve Come”- Accompanied by tender guitar and Bonnie Raitt’s aching backing vocals, Browne surveys a broken relationship and decides it was worth all the pain and struggle. More importantly, he also realizes that it’s a battle he would fight all over again, because “the need for love will still remain.” We should all be so tempered and wise in the aftermath of a break-up, but that’s always been one of Browne’s greatest strengths as a songwriter.
(E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia.)