Crying In Public Is Embarrassing: Jackson Browne w/ Dawes & Jonathan Wilson At The Satellite
Wherein 62-year-old, folk-rock icon Jackson Browne eats a pre-concert dinner at Burrito King (because it was Warren Zevon's favorite restaurant), this story begins with a surprise show set in a surprisingly small venue with a surprising mix of people who were proudly surprised to be among privileged few poised to see something surprisingly rare.
Confessing that "Spaceland" (the Satellite) is one of the "secret places" he comes to stand in the back and listen to live music, Jackson Browne, the storied, Southern California songwriting idol, delighted in the gig remarking, "Didn't know if I'd have a chance to play here." Though delivered in an earnest deadpan, there was clearly an implied wink.
What was originally slated to be a "mini-tour" this summer has turned into a "micro-tour" after a number of concert dates were dropped. Regardless, last week's nearly three hour Satellite show served as a warm up of sorts before the journey to Spain where the pioneering Laurel Canyon troubadour is traveling with some of the next generation of footstep followers including singer/guitarist Jonathan Wilson and local quartet, Dawes. Essentially serving as the backing band in this arrangement, Browne was sure to praise his stagemates saying, “It’s a pleasure to play with these guys, who are themselves some of my favorite songwriters."
Respectful and unprecedentedly quiet throughout the night, the Satellite crowd still hollered nugatory remarks like "Turn it up!" in response to Browne's request to turn down guitar levels in an effort to combat feedback. Another audience member inquired loudly during a tuning moment, "How was Cuba?" Slightly confused, Browne responded, "Which time?" and then admitted to having some difficulty remembering due to the country's delicious rum offerings. As a consolation prize for that heckle, however, he told us a story about being in a van with ten Cubans about a week back. "I do know that," he said.
It is always embarrassing to cry in public, but it's even more humiliating to realize that "in public" sometimes means "in front of Jackson Browne." Standing less than a car-length away from the lungs exhaling "These Days" -- the melancholic, decades-enduring, introspective excursion written by Browne at the hardly believable age of 16 -- is a humbling and tear-worthy moment, especially under the right hormonal parameters. Browne's set also included hits "The Pretender","Running on Empty", "I'm Alive", "Tender is the Night" and "Take it Easy", though it's difficult to imagine writing a song like "Take It Easy" since it sounds and feels as if it's always simply existed.
With the evening exceeding its high expectations, one more bonus round of encores came with an unexpected lesson: When Jackson Browne introduces a song as one, "I wish I had written," he's not saying it to be polite, he's telling you to pay attention because you're about to hear the best song you've heard in months. "Million Dollar Bill", a beautiful, Jayhawks-evoking bewitchment by Dawes, is a song that makes you smile at its smartness and superiority. It simply IS better than other songs.
SETLIST - Jackson Browne w/ Dawes and Jonathan Wilson @ The Satellite in Los Angeles - July 6, 2011
1. I'm Alive
2. The Barricades of Heaven
3. Your Bright Baby Blues
4. Fountain of Sorrow
5. Late for the Sky
6. The Pretender
7. Tender is the Night
8. These Days
9. Take it Easy
10. Our Lady of the Well
11. Shaky Town
12. Running on Empty
13. Play It All Night Long (Warren Zevon cover)
14. Mohammed's Radio (Warren Zevon cover)
15. Gentle Spirit (Jonathan Wilson on vocals)
16. Lawyers, Guns and Money (Warren Zevon cover)
17. Long Distance Love (Little Feat cover) (Griffin Goldsmith on vocals)
18. Million Dollar Bill (Taylor Goldsmith on vocals)
19. Strangers Getting Stranger (Taylor Goldsmith on vocals)