Running on Emptyby Jackson Browne
Having acknowledged a certain creative desperation on The Pretender, Jackson Browne lowered his sights (and raised his commercial appeal) considerably with Running on Empty, which was more a concept album about the road than an actual live album, even though its songs were sometimes recorded on-stage (and sometimes on the bus or in the hotel). Unlike most live albums, though, it consisted of previously unrecorded songs. Browne had less creative participation on this album than on any he ever made, solely composing only two songs, co-writing four others, and covering another four. And he had less to say -- the title song and leadoff track neatly conjoined his artistic and escapist themes. Figuratively and creatively, he was out of gas, but like "the pretender," he still had to make a living. The songs covered all aspects of touring, from Danny O'Keefe's "The Road," which detailed romantic encounters, and "Rosie" (co-written by Browne and his manager Donald Miller), in which a soundman pays tribute to auto-eroticism, to, well, "Cocaine," to the travails of being a roadie ("The Load-Out"). Audience noises, humorous asides, loose playing -- they were all part of a rough-around-the-edges musical evocation of the rock & roll touring life. It was not what fans had come to expect from Browne, of course, but the disaffected were more than outnumbered by the newly converted. (It didn't hurt that "Running on Empty" and "The Load-Out"/"Stay" both became Top 40 hits.) As a result, Browne's least ambitious, but perhaps most accessible, album ironically became his biggest seller. But it is not characteristic of his other work: for many, it will be the only Browne album they will want to own, just as others always will regard it disdainfully as "Jackson Browne lite."
- Release Date:
- Elektra / Wea
Performance CreditsJackson Browne Primary Artist,Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
David Lindley Fiddle,Guitar,Violin,Steel Guitar,Vocals,Lap Steel Guitar
Joel Bernstein Vocals
Rosemary Butler Vocals
Craig Doerge Keyboards
Doug Haywood Vocals
Jon Douglas Haywood Bass,Vocals
Danny Kortchmar Guitar,Percussion,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Russ Kunkel Drums,Snare Drums,Cardboard Box,Hi Hat
Leland Sklar Bass
Technical CreditsJackson Browne Producer
Greg Ladanyi Engineer
T. J. Amall Composer
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I refute those who don't quite get it regarding "Running on Empty" Jackson Brown doesn't write crap. The album's strong as can be, seen by it's high rating. Don't accept those negative opinions. It's a classic, a basic to any decent Jackson Brown collection.
Half the songs on this album are wonderful; the other half spoils it. While there are some great tracks here (the title track, ''The Road'', ''You Love the Thunder''), there is too much filler to make this a good album. While it's interesting to hear some songs recorded on a bus (complete with occasional road noise) or in a hotel room (''Shaky Town'' sounds like it was recorded on my computer), the only song holding the album together is ''The Load Out/Stay''. This is also the best song on this not-very-good album.
After the uncomfortable introspection of The Pretender Jackson Browne seems to have remembered that he has an audience and he gives that audience a fantastic collection of live songs which builds up to the classic Load-out/Stay cuts. Jackson Browne's best album.