Song of the Day #4,693: ‘The Barricades of Heaven’ – Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne followed up the triumphant comeback of I’m Alive with Looking East, a record more in line with his mid-80s work.

The political songs made a comeback, but fortunately they don’t dominate the album and, for the most part, they are more subtle than earlier efforts. That said, I have to call him out for this particularly awful verse:

Do people really spend millions upon millions
To make us think we care about the planet
At the same time polluting and looting the only world we’ve got
So they can maximize their profit?
People do

But I choose to focus on the good things, and this album has its share of enjoyable pop rock tunes. He’s in a much chippier mood than on I’m Alive, which is great for him even if it means most of these songs are forgettably decent.

He does indulge two of his odder tendencies, Latin pop and reggae, on a couple of songs I find myself enjoying despite my better judgment.

The best track on the album, easily, is today’s SOTD, ‘The Barricades of Heaven.’ It’s a wistful, nostalgic look back at his coming of age in California.

Running down around the towns along the shore
When I was sixteen and on my own
No, I couldn’t tell you what the hell those brakes were for
I was just trying to hear my song

Jimmy found his own sweet sound and won that free guitar
We’d all get in the van and play
Life became the Paradox, the Bear, the Rouge et Noir
And the stretch of road running to LA

Pages turning
Pages we were years from learning
Straight into the night our hearts were flung
Better bring your own redemption when you come
To the barricades of Heaven where I’m from

All the world was shining from those hills
The stars above and the lights below
Among those there to test their fortunes and their wills
I lost track of the score long ago

Pages turning
Pages we were years from learning
Straight into the night our hearts were flung
Better bring your own redemption when you come
To the barricades of Heaven where I’m from
Childhood comes for me at night
Voices of my friends
Your face bathing me in light
Hope that never ends

Pages turning
Pages torn and pages burning
Faded pages, open in the sun
Better bring your own redemption when you come
To the barricades of Heaven where I’m from
Better bring your own redemption when you come
To the barricades of Heaven where I’m from

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,693: ‘The Barricades of Heaven’ – Jackson Browne

  1. Amy says:

    You’re getting into territory with which I have no familiarity. I’m Alive is the last album I recall seeing out and was likely the tour we saw. Looking forward to a mini-education about Browne’s later years.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    Oddly enough, after loving I’m Alive so much, I have no recollection at all of this follow-up album. Sounds as though I’m not really missing all that much.

  3. Russ Paris says:

    You wrote: “But I choose to focus on the good things, and this album has its share of enjoyable pop rock tunes.” I agree. Looking East has some great tunes and I’m surprised that those who loved I’m Alive never picked up the follow-up release, which while not quite up to the brilliance of I’m Alive, is still a solid album.

    Songs like “Some Bridges” and “I’m the Cat” are very fun, and the contrast between the heavy lyrics and upbeat music on “Some Bridges” is particularly effective. “The Barricades Of Heaven” (your song of the day) is easily among Jackson’s best songs. “Alive In The World” is another very solid track.

    The album should have been credited to The Jackson Browne band because nearly every song is credited to the full band and it really sounds like a band effort by a very solid and cohesive group of musicians. “Culver Moon” and “Looking East” are both great rockers. “Information Wars” (quoted above) is really the lone “dud” on the album.

    I’m Alive (1993) was the first Jackson Browne album to feature the new band that he would have with him for the next 15+ years or so: Mark Goldenberg (guitar), Kevin McCormick (bass), Jeff Young (keyboards & backing vocals) Mauricio “Fritz” Lewak (drums), Luis Conte (percussion), and Scott Thurston (guitars, keys & vocals). Looking East was probably the band’s peak although they remained together through Browne’s 2002 studio album and beyond. (Scott Thurston’s role as Jackson’s producer and bandmate faded out shortly after this album was released as his duties in Tom Petty’s band took precedence.)

    Looking East reached #1 on the Gavin A-3 Boomer Grid, which ranked artists by the amount of airplay they received on Triple A (Album Adult Alternative) radio stations around the United States.

    I notice that the cover image you used above was from the Enhance CD version of the album. When first released, the album was available for a limited time in an “Enhanced CD” format, which contained interview footage of Jackson and his band, including Jackson’s comments on each song on the album, a tour of Jackson’s studio, and a section which showed the full development of the title track from a sound check jam to finished album recording.

    My favorite is the Japanese edition of the Looking East CD which has a hidden bonus track: “World In Motion” (live in Los Angeles with the Hamilton High School Gospel Choir) which appears at the end of the CD and is really great.

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