The sold out audience seated in the ornate decor of the renovated Landmark Theatre sung the loudest to Jackson Browne hits such as "Somebody's Baby" and "Running on Empty", but they listened the closest to "If I Could Be Anywhere", "The Dreamer" and "The Long Way Around". The first of his more current activist compositions brings attention to the plague of plastics in the world's oceans. The second, sung partially in Spanish, tells the story of a dreamer who may have to leave the United States "Today she got the order, They're taking steps to deport her, To send her back over the border, And tear her away from the life she has made". The third, he dedicated to the young people of Parkland and the others across the nation standing up for changes in the regulation of guns.
When the applause had faded and 'the seats are all empty', Jackson Browne took a moment to greet some of his most passionate fans perched outside the artists entrance of the theatre. He shook hands, took pictures and talked set list with a man named Aaron Buitron who was seeing his fourth Jackson Browne show. He chatted with a high school girl who hoped he would go with her to her prom. He respectfully declined. He graciously posed for photos. As a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer he has enjoyed and endured a lifetime of adulation. Yet, Jackson Browne, the songwriter of numerous hits and seller of millions of records still follows his conscious and he follows the news.
He exited the theatre with the Sunday New York Times tucked under his arm for perusal on the bus ride to the next tour stop. A couple of hours before, he stood center stage and offered encouragement to the young people who have found their cause for demonstrations since the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School. His band was about to being "The Long Way Around". Like many of Browne's best work, he hits on the sentiment of a key societal issue and finds away to gather words, melody, harmony and rhythm that finds a life behind the immediacy of a cause. He hit the mark again, capturing the importance of the current gun control discussion with a lyric written years before.
He recorded this song on his 2014 album "Standing in the Breach".
"It's never been that hard to buy a gun
Now they'll sell a Glock 19 to just about anyone
The seeds of tragedy are there
In what we feel we have the right to bear
To watch our children come to harm
There in the safety of our arms
With all we disagree about
The passions burn, the heart goes out
And we're a long way gone
Down this wild road we're on
It's going to take us where we're bound
It's just the long way around"
- Jackson Browne "The Long Way Around" 2014
From the center of the Landmark Theatre stage he complimented the young people who have had the passion to demonstrate on the issue of controlling the sale of guns in this country. Post-show I asked him outside that artist entrance about the comments he made in support of the Parkland students. He asked me, "Are you with the news channel? You are aren't you?" I said yes. He stopped to gather his thoughts, but then was pulled away by another fan wanting a picture. He looked back at me and said he can't give the answer the issue deserves in this setting. He said he stood by his statement during the concert. He touched his heart and reaffirmed he meant it.
One more photo and he boarded the bus. His band was already on the bus and they were waiting to go. At the age of 69, still politically active, Jackson Browne is encouraging the next generation while entertaining generations of fans with his 50 year collection of timeless music.