Song of the Day #4,694: ‘The Naked Ride Home’ – Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne entered his fourth decade of recording with 2002’s The Naked Ride Home. This album is more personal than political, always a plus.

It’s also the longest record he’s ever released, its ten songs running a full hour. Six of these tracks run six or seven minutes, turning it into a test of patience at times. Often that padded running time is dedicated to long instrumental interludes, which doesn’t help.

The biggest sin of The Naked Ride Home is that it doesn’t go anywhere new. Browne has mined this territory in better songs on better albums. Nothing here is unpleasant, but nothing is revelatory either.

The one song I’ll return to is the title track, also the album’s opener. This simple tale of a sexy car ride that turns into a realization about the coming end of a marriage is unexpected in ways the rest of the album isn’t.

Browne definitely has a knack for naming his albums after standout songs: ‘For Everyman,’ ‘Late For the Sky,’ ‘The Pretender,’ ‘Running On Empty,’ ‘Hold Out,’ ‘Lawyers in Love,’ ‘I’m Alive’ and this song… you could make a killer playlist of just his best title tracks.

Just take off your clothes and I’ll drive you home I said
Knowing she never could pass on a dare
And knowing it sounded more desperate than reckless or bold
I just put it out there cold, too far gone to care

My eyes on the road, she slid herself down in the seat
And a vision of paradise swung into view
Across those five lanes not one driver glanced over to see
The beauty known only to me, and a big rig or two

On that freeway the light was receding
Her beauty, a sight so misleading
I failed to hear the heart that was beating alone
On the naked ride home

With the trace of a smile and that defiant look in her eye
She hurtled through space in a world of her own
And turning aside my caress spoke of all that she’d not yet done
As if I was the doubting one who would have to be shown

On that freeway the light was receding
Her beauty, a sight so misleading
I failed to hear the heart that was beating alone
On the naked ride home

She gathered her clothes
And ran through the yard in the dark
Up onto the porch like a flash, and inside
Then one room at a time
I watched every light in our house come on
Like the truth that would eventually dawn
Forcing me to decide
But on that freeway the light was receding
Her beauty, a sight so misleading
I failed to hear the heart that was beating alone
On the naked ride home

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,694: ‘The Naked Ride Home’ – Jackson Browne

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This album was completely off my radar screen. Based on your review, however, it seems this is generic Jackson Browne – good, but not vital.

    Meanwhile, I notice you left the title track of Lives in the Balance off your greatest (title track) hits. That’s too bad, as it’s a great song and deserves a spot on that list.

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