When Jackson Browne takes the stage at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday, September 5, he’ll do so on the strength of his majestic back catalog, which contains some of the biggest hits in all of classic rock, and with a great batch of new songs as well.
The 10 tracks on his 2021 release, Downhill From Everywhere, are as fresh and exciting as anything he’s recorded since the 1980s. This concert is special, not only for Browne, but also for the Santa Barbara Bowl, since it will be the first live music performance there since 2019. For Browne, the show represents a break from his demanding (and unusual-for-him) role as a supporting act; he’s been opening for James Taylor on one of the season’s biggest tours.
Whether you’re going to the show or not, you should spend some time with Browne’s new album. Downhill from Everywhere reveals the ironical perspective of a man entering his eighth decade who still reveres the progressive political principles that have animated him since the 1960s, and who somehow remains committed to living his dreams, even when they take wild directions.
Browne’s self-awareness comes with a touch of wry whimsy in the current single, “My Cleveland Heart.” In it, the singer hymns the advantages of mechanical tickers over the vulnerable fleshy organs ordinary humans are born with.
In the song’s darkly hilarious video, Browne undergoes a heart transplant performed by his band, with good pal and sometime collaborator Phoebe Bridgers doing the honors of receiving his old-fashioned human heart when it’s removed. Most of us would shy away from dreaming of such a lurid scenario, never mind producing it as a music video, but this self-deprecating brand of courage is a quality Jackson Browne has always had, and it will be on glorious display when he returns to the Santa Barbara Bowl stage on Sunday.
Additionally, songwriter Leslie Mendelson has announced that she will join Jackson for all of his upcoming “Evening with Jackson Browne” dates.
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