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Music – 1982 – Jackson Browne – The Pretender

Jackson Browne (born October 9, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 18 million albums in the United States….after coming to prominence in the 1970’s…..Browne wrote and recorded songs such as “These Days”, “The Pretender….as seen performed in this video herewith, “Running on Empty”, “Lawyers in Love”, “Doctor My Eyes”, “Take It Easy”, “For a Rocker….and “Somebody’s Baby”.  

In spring of 1978, Browne appeared at the site of the Barnwell, South Carolina, nuclear reprocessing plant to perform a free concert the night before a civil disobedience action….which he did not participate in the action.  In June 1978 he performed on the grounds of the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant construction site in New Hampshire for 20,000 opponents of the reactor.

Soon after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, during March 1979, Browne joined with several musician friends to found the anti-nuclear organization Musicians United for Safe Energy.  He was arrested protesting against the Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo.  His next album, Hold Out (1980), was commercially successful and his only # 1 record on the U.S. pop albums chart….as the album generated “Boulevard”.  In 1982, he released the single “Somebody’s Baby” from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack….which became his biggest hit after peaking at # 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The 1983 Lawyers in Love followed, signaling a discernible change from the personal to the political in his lyrics. In 1985, he sang a duet with Clarence Clemons in a song called “You’re a Friend of Mine”.

Political protest came to the forefront of Browne’s music in the 1986 album, Lives in the Balance….which was an explicit condemnation of U.S. policy in Central America….while being flavored with new instrumental textures….as it became a huge success with many Browne fans…..but not with mainstream audiences. The title track, “Lives in the Balance”, with its Andean pan pipes….had lines like, “There’s a shadow on the faces / Of the men who fan the flames / Of the wars that are fought in places / Where we can’t even say the names”….was an outcry against U.S.-backed wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The song was used at several points in the award-winning 1987 PBS documentary, The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis, by journalist Bill Moyers….and was part of the soundtrack of Stone’s War, a 1986 Miami Vice episode focusing on American involvement in Central America.

During the 1980’s, Browne performed frequently at benefit concerts for causes in which he believed….including Farm Aid, Amnesty International….while making several appearances on the 1986 A Conspiracy of Hope Tour post-Somoza revolutionary Nicaragua, and the Christic Institute.  The album World in Motion, released during 1989, contains a cover of Steve Van Zandt’s “I am a Patriot”….a song which he has performed at numerous concerts.

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