JACKSON BROWNE – GOING HOME (1994)
Featuring Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, David Crosby, Graham Nash, David Lindley, Don Henley and Jennifer Warnes.
Directed by Janice Engel.
Distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment. 90 minutes. Not Rated.
Jackson Browne was one of the great songwriters of the 70s and 80s, though now he is sometimes unfairly overlooked and lumped into the California navel-gazing singer/songwriter school that he pretty much helped to create (and spawned such artists as The Eagles, JD Souther and Crosby Stills and Nash).
Going Home was a television special from 1994 – about a decade on from his biggest years and promoting the release of his then-recent-but-now-mostly-forgotten album I’m Alive. At the time the special was released on VHS tape, but has long been out of print in DVD.
Browne was never a normal artist and Going Home is not a simple concert film. First of all, Browne was not going to just spew out his greatest hits. In fact, several of his best-known songs are nowhere to be found here – including such standards as “Somebody’s Baby” (his highest charting song), “Boulevard,” “Tender is the Night,” “Lawyers in Love” and “The Load Out/Stay.”
However, though there are over twenty songs performed live here, it is not a single static show in which he covers some of the high points of his career. Instead Going Home is more of a career overview, with even the concert sections filmed in interesting and unusual ways.
For example, “Farther On” was subtly accompanied by a slide show of photos of Browne throughout the years. The early single “Doctor My Eyes” is actually a seamless melding of a few live performances of Browne through the years, including a vintage TV performance on the classic European music show Rockpalast. He uses a studio performance on a solo piano to perform “The Birds of St. Mark,” his previously-unreleased tribute to Nico (of The Velvet Underground and Nico fame) – the first professional singer who hired him into her band (and later became his lover). “Take It Easy” was a simple backstage acoustic guitar and fiddle duet with longtime sideman David Lindley.
This kind of odds’n’ends performance style is nothing new for Browne – his best-selling 1977 “live” album Running on Empty also mixed typical concert performing with less structured performances done in studios, backstage dressing rooms and on tour buses.
At the same time, Browne and contemporaries like Don Henley, Graham Nash, Jennifer Warnes, David Crosby and Lindley look back at the scene and the music that Browne brought to it.
Looking at his music, Browne’s work has aged exceedingly well, from classic tunes like “The Pretender,” “These Days” and his anthem “Running on Empty” to more obscure titles like “Lives in the Balance,” “In the Shape of a Heart” and “Your Bright Baby Blues.” Browne is in fine voice and his reminiscences of the songs do add a little nuance and depth to our understanding of his muse.
One slight complaint I have is that few of the songs are performed in their entirety, usually they will go about 2/3 through and then segue into interview footage about the songs and Browne’s career.
Still, this is a minor quibble in what is otherwise a fine career overview of a very deserving artist.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 23, 2010.