Music Is My Life It Helps Me Through The Night Jackson Browne: The Pretender – Part Three

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Jackson Browne: The Pretender – Part Three

In the first two posts in this series featuring singer-songwriter Jackson Browne’s Grammy-nominated album The Pretender , we featured the title track “The Fuse,” “Only Child,” “Daddy’s Tune,” and more. In our final post, we’ll talk about the shortest version of the album and the musicians and singers called into the studio to help make it one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

“Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate” clocks in at just two minutes and thirty-five seconds. It’s strategically second-to-last on the album’s title (and final) track, “The Pretender.” The tune is the first verse where Brown sings (accompanied by acoustic piano): “Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder where my life will lead me. Waiting to pass under. A dark, silent door to sleep. I found my love too late.” The closing line of the opening verse (“I left my love too late…”) begins and lifts this meditative section. While the music (thanks to Jon Landau’s sumptuous production) takes a pop-like bath, the lyrics match the opening line: “I never had to try so hard to make love work. I don’t. I know what love means to happiness. But our luck the happy times were the times we never tried.”

At the end of the short (and wonderful) song “Dark Sleeps and the Silent Door” he sings, “God, this is some kind of me. The only thing that makes me cry is kindness. In the eyes of my baby. Sometimes I lie awake at night, one wonders where the years have gone. They all pass under the dark and silent door of sleep.” This song alone could have closed this album. That’s how strong it is. But wait for “The Pretender” to grab the album’s attention. This tune brings the whole album together, leaving the listener in a position of total satisfaction and at the same time… wanting more. The greatest achievement for a songwriter.

As mentioned in the first two articles in this series, John Landau (aka Rolling Stone writer and Bruce Springsteen’s manager) masterfully produced this album because Landau and Brown knew who to call. In addition to David Crosby and Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame), the total number of musicians who contributed to The Pretender exceeded THIRTY.

This virtual who’s who of the music industry features Brown’s longtime guitarist/violinist/slide guitarist David Lindley, in addition to Brown’s regular studio and touring partners: Craig Dorge (piano), Leland Sklar (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums), Rosemary Butler (vocals), and guitarist Waddy Wachtel. Rounding out this impressive list are: Lowell George (Little Feat), John Hall (From Orleans), Don Henley (The Eagles), guitarist Albert Lee, keyboardist Billy Payne (Little Feat), singer Bonnie Raitt. and singer/guitarist JD Souther.

With a perfect blend of incredible songwriting, production, and over thirty artists contributing to the cause, Jackson Browne’s The Pretender is the best album of Brown’s career and (according to Rolling Stone) one of the greatest albums of all time.

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