With 1986’s Lives in the Balance, Jackson Browne made an unfortunate pivot from the personal to the political. The thoughtful poet who so successfully mined matters of the heart was now singing about Ronald Reagan.
I call this shift unfortunate because I have an aversion to overtly political songs, especially when they are dressed up with glossy production. It’s one thing for Bob Dylan or Joan Baez to sing about civil rights with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica in the 60s, but do I need Sting crooning “Hey, Mr. Pinonchet” over a bed of soft jazz? No, I do not.