Tuesday, November 24, 2009

457. For Everyman- Taking it very easy indeed.

Album: For Everyman.

Artist: Jackson Browne


Genre: Unchallenging listening.


  1. Take It Easy
  2. Our Lady of the Well
  3. Colors of the Sun
  4. I Thought I Was a Child
  5. These Days
  6. Red Neck Friend
  7. The Times You've Come
  8. Ready or Not
  9. Sing My Songs to Me
  10. For Everyman

There’s a song on For Everyman that I think sums up the situation rather well. It’s called Ready or Not and it’s about a young man who is forced to give up his carousing ways in order to settle down with the woman he’s knocked up. Ready or not he has to change from his life as a bit of a Rock and Roller to more of an Adult Contemporary individual. If you’re at that point in life where you’re starting to settle down and embrace your approaching middle-age then Jackson Browne might be just the thing for you. If you’ve got a CD collection that leans towards Rock music (some Stones, The Clash, copies of Dire Straits albums you don’t recall purchasing) and you want to move your tastes more towards easy listening then Jackson Browne might well be the perfect transition point. Treat him like training wheels for your middle-aged music tastes.

That’s not to say Jackson Browne is boring, he’s just not really that interesting. He’s not so much Rock and Roll as Sway and Wobble. He’s a musician that you could happily take home to visit your mother, she wouldn’t be offended, in fact it’s possible she wouldn’t even notice. The general feel on For Everyman is laid back and easy. It’s a fair bet all guitar solos on this album were played sitting down. It’s music for the back porch with all the urgency of a tectonic plate drift.

The most widely recognized song on For Everyman is Take it Easy which was written by Browne but a huge hit for the Eagles, who are another band that you’re mother would be happy to meet but struggle to recall the next day. Browne was generous enough to give Take it Easy away which means by the time he came to record it for this album everyone who cared knew it already.

The other standout track is the up tempo rocker Redneck Friend which kicks along at a reasonable pace thanks in part to Elton John who provides some rollicking riffs on piano. You know you’re album isn’t really rock and roll if Elton John is responsible for its heaviest moment. Other guests drop in to provide assistance to some of the tracks including members of the Eagles along with David Crosby and Bonnie Raitt who provide backing vocals but not so you could tell it was them. As an important footnote, Drums on this album were partly provided by Jim Keltner who may not be a name you recognise but has probably played more drums on the top 500 album list than anyone else. In fact it’s possible that Keltner is the one person whose performing features here more than any other artist.

The rest of For Everyman is basically Browne being laid back and oozing warm layers of inoffensive musical reflections full of yearning and contemplation. Jackson is the only guy on the planet who could cover Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and make it seem wistful. He just has a way of making everything come across as evocative of a time and place that I’ve never been but Browne seems to think I’m familiar with.

For Everyman is actually a fairly good title for this release. It’s probably has the same effect on pretty much everyone who hears it. Nobody is going to regard it as offensive and a painful listen but then I can’t see too many getting excited enough to actually raise themselves out of their porch chairs.Only 32 people felt moved enough by it to actually post a review on Amazon which is among the lowest for all the albums in the top 500. Four of those reviews gave the album 3 stars which is also fairly odd. Who logs onto Amazon to give an album 3 out of five stars? Traditionally all Amazon reviews are either five star raves or 1 star trashings designed to annoy the five star ravers and drop it's average rating down. Well here's to everyone who felt inspired enough by For Everyman to go out of their way to tell everyone they considered it slightly above average. Take it Easy.

Highlight: Red Neck Friend.
Lowlight: Our Lady of the well.
Influenced by: Furniture and the desire to record music without leaving it.
Influenced: The Eagles and the more laid back variety of singer songwriter.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote:
"I alluded to a song from this album, "Ready Or Not" in my review of Alvin & Mylon's "On The Road To Freedom." It's a interesting little ditty about his ladyfriend (please tell me it wasn't Darryl Hannah) turning up....pregnant. In the key of "E," Jackson tells us, "someone's gonna have to explain it me." Dude, if you didn't know then, you've only your folks (I guess) to blame. And there's a great version of "Take It Easy" on this thing too, yeah, THAT one that he wrote for the Eagles. A tad too...."mellow" for my tastes, but then there's a song, "Redneck Friend," which ain't bad. The pianist noted in the liner notes is - ahem - "Rockady Johnnie." Which translates to a still closted, not yet a "sir," Elton John. I just can NOT deal with Jackson Browne in all honesty; however, after hearing "Ready Or Not" while "similarily inclined," I guess I felt I had to run out in a buying frenzy and purchase the album. It ain't bad, but my wife's the only one of us who listens to it anymore. Go figure..."

-How fantastic is that? A three star review that takes itself so easy in the end he admits he doesn't actually listen to the album.

So is this release really for Everyman or not? Let me know below.

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