Song of the Day #4,696: ‘The Long Way Around’ – Jackson Browne

Continuing his pattern of waiting six years between albums, Jackson Browne released his most recent full-length effort, Standing in the Breach, in 2014. At 72, it’s unclear if this will be his last album, though he did release a song for Earth Day last year and has a couple of other small projects under his belt in the past few years.

If Standing in the Breach does prove to be his swan song, it’s a good and fitting one. The album finds Browne in a contemplative, nostalgic mood, and the easy, laid back sound is fitting for a record on which the best songs are about peaceful acceptance.

The album makes a point to look backward. Opening track ‘The Birds of St. Marks’ was written by Browne for Nico when he was just 18. Another song, ‘The Long Way Around’ (today’s SOTD), hearkens back to ‘These Days,’ a song Browne wrote when he was 16 and one of his most beloved compositions.

Even the political songs peppered throughout feel less like the didactic sermons of his 90s and 00s work.

After a rocky back half of his catalog, Standing in the Breach feels like a great place to wrap up this deep dive, with nods to Browne’s earliest songwriting filtered through the wisdom of age.

Tomorrow, I will close out these Jackson Browne weeks with my personal ranking of his 14 albums.

I don’t know what to say about these days
I’m seeing people changing in the strangest ways
Even in the richer neighborhoods
People don’t know when they’ve got it good
They’ve got the envy, and they’ve got it bad

When I was a kid everything I did was trying to be free
Running up and down Tinsel Town with the fire inside of me
My planets all in retrograde, the best of all my plans got laid
I made my breaks, and some mistakes
Just not the ones people think I made

Now I’m a long way gone
Down this wild road I’m on
It’s going to take me where I’m bound
But it’s the long way around

It’s so hard keeping track of what’s gone wrong
The covenant unravels, and the news just rolls along
I could feel my memory letting go some two or three disasters ago
It’s hard to say which did more ill
Citizens United or the Gulf oil spill

And I’m a long way gone
Down this wild road I’m on
It’s going to take me take me where I’m bound
But it’s the long way around

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

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,696: ‘The Long Way Around’ – Jackson Browne

  1. Amy says:

    Don’t know this album at all, but it felt immediately familiar and just beautiful as the opening notes of today’s SOTD began playing. I definitely would want to listen to this song again.

    Thank you for filling in lots of gaps in this casual Browne fan’s knowledge of his music career.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    This album was also off my radar entirely, but based on your review and hearing today’s song, I want to check out the rest of the record.

    And if this does prove to be Browne’s last studio album, I’m glad he went out on a positive note.

  3. Russ Paris says:

    Jackson Browne does have a new album scheduled for release this summer. He also did a nice interview in AARP Magazine this month:
    https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/music/info-2021/jackson-browne.html

  4. Russ Paris says:

    BTW, you could do a whole blog on Jackson Browne songs that don’t appear on any of his studio albums. One of my favorites is his cover of the Leonard Cohen song “A Thousand Kisses Deep”:

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