Thursday, October 20, 2011

1996: The Barricades of Heaven

Jackson Browne: The Barricades of Heaven


Jackson Browne has been known since the early 1970s not only for his performances, but also as a great songwriter. That makes the writing credits on his 1996 album Looking East interesting reading. Each of the songs is credited to the same seven writers, including Browne. Looking at who plays on the album, I assume that Browne wrote the lyrics, and then brought them to his working band at the time. They then would have created the melodies and arrangements together. The lyrics are personal, as they often are in Browne’s work, so I have to assume he created those himself. On the other hand, it is possible that Browne always worked this way, but he felt it was high time his band got a share of the writing royalties. It must have made some music industry types nuts, especially with all of the different publishing credits.

As for the song I have chosen, The Barricades of Heaven finds Jackson Browne looking back at his youth, when he was just discovering the joy of making music. The song has some of the feel of early Bruce Springsteen, only in LA instead of Asbury Park. The title refers to Browne being on the verge of becoming a professional musician with a major label contract.

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