It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Jackson Browne and have been since Day 1. For the first several albums, it almost felt like an exclusive club. But when his 5th album RUNNING ON EMPTY was released on Dec. 6, 1977 (40 years ago today!), I knew we’d have to share him.
There was something for everyone on this album. Acoustic. Electric. Studio. Live. Contemplative. Humorous. Boisterous. Tender.
And what a cool concept. It was not just any live album. It was an album about being on the road that was literally recorded on the road in hotels, motels, onstage, backstage, and on the bus. It was a commentary and a private glimpse into the often glamorized touring life.
We got a firsthand peek into the camaraderie that bandmates experience when they are hanging out in a Holiday Inn late night after a gig with a couple of guitars in hand.
We got a backstage tour with and a greater appreciation of the roadies and the crew who make it happen every night.
We got to tag along on the bus with the Richard Pryor videos (you can even hear the bus shifting gears on “Nothing But Time.”)
In fact, we travelled with the crew from the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Md. to the Garden State Arts Center in Jersey to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in NY.
We became part of the road trip and with that, Jackson let us into this world that most of us knew nothing about.
Another thing that sets this album apart from other typical “live” albums is that none of these songs had shown up on earlier Jackson records before.
So we were being introduced to many of these songs in a live setting which usually isn’t the case.
Yet we immediately felt at home with the title tune and with “The Load-Out” and “You Love the Thunder.” That’s a pretty bold move. And it totally worked.
Thanks for taking us all along on the ride, Jackson!