Friday, October 10, 2008

October Ninth: Lennon and Browne

Where were you the first time you saw or heard John Lennon sing? I remember well, 1963, when we had a little black and white portable on a shiny gold wire rolling stand in the eating area of our kitchen. Someone (probably me) yelled, "fix the antenna!" and my dad lumbered over to adjust the rabbit ears so that we could get a better picture of the The Beatles doing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was in 4th grade.

Likewise, I remember exactly where I was seventeen years later when the announcer on my car radio sadly proclaimed that John Lennon had been shot and killed. Today, October 9th, is the 68th anniversary of this genius' birth, tagged "Imagine Day" by followers. It is also the birthday of his younger son, Sean Ono Lennon, aged 33. "Imagine", the song probably most representative of Lennon's philosophies and non-materialistic ways, paid homage to his belief in the possibility of an ideal world.

Like Lennon, American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne is no stranger to expressing political and social convictions through music. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1948, Browne has been called "precociously gifted" and "introspective", writing and performing tunes that fueled the confessional movement of the early 70's.

His roots were folksy. In 1966, Browne was a member of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He later wrote songs performed by Joan Baez, Tom Rush, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and the Byrds, but signed with Asyllum Records in 1971 and began his solo career with the release of "Doctor My Eyes" in 1972. He has since become an icon of socially conscious efforts, participating in organizations such as Musicians United for Safe Energy ("MUSE") and No Nukes, playing numerous concerts benefiting Farm Aid and various presidential campaigns. A longtime liberal, Browne supported Ralph Nader, John Kerry (as part of the "Vote For Change" tour) and most recently, John Edwards. In August of this year, he sued John McCain and the Republican party for using his 1977 hit "Running on Empty" in a campaign attack against Barack Obama. As one of the most politically immersed artists of his generation, Browne was "incensed" at the illegal use of his material.

In 2007, Jackson Browne covered John Lennon's "Oh My Love" on the album "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur."

It would appear that these two music giants share more than just a birthdate.

~Anne - Beacon Street Books

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