Nice career, shame about the scandal

 

YOU can't rely on record company bumph to tell you the complete story. Jackson Browne's new album, Looking East, is accompanied by a press release which focuses on the man's admirable career in rock, devoting much space to Browne's excellent songwriting, superb musicianship and impeccable social conscience. However, there's one major omission, and it just happens to be the one detail which interests us media types the most - what happened between him and Daryl Hannah?

It's just not fair, is it? Here's a man who, in a 30 year career, has become one of America's most successful singer songwriters, with hit albums like The Pretender, Running On Empty and Hold Out; who cofounded Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) and organised major anti nuclear benefit concerts with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Springsteen; who has worked with some of the best musicians and writers in American rock, including David Lindley, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, David Crosby and J.D. Souther, and co wrote The Eagles' hit, Take It Easy; who survived the tragedy of his first wife's suicide, and paid musical tribute to such dear departed colleagues as Lowell George, Stevie Ray Vaughan and concert promoter Bill Graham. Yet the only question we wanna ask is, what about Daryl Hannah? Journalists, tch.

Jackson Browne was born in Heidelberg, West Germany, in 1948, the son of U.S. Army parents, and brought up in Los Angeles, a town which has shaped his West Coast songwriting style. "I'm not from middle America, I'm from L.A.," quoted Browne in that incomplete press release. "I recognise that I don't have a middle American point of view, even though this place has the same social struggles that go on in the rest of the country." Good point, Jackson, but getting back to Daryl Hannah for a minute ...

By the time he was 18, Browne was already an accomplished pianist, guitarist, singer and composer, and he signed to Elektra as a house songwriter before moving to David Geffen's Asylum label, also home to his roommate Glenn Frey's band, The Eagles. Browne's songs were recorded by everybody from Nico to The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and disco fans this side of the Atlantic might remember The Jacksons' hit version of Doctor My Eyes, an early hint of young Michael Jackson's budding interest in facial surgery.

Browne's big breakthrough came with his fourth album, The Pretender, in 1976, and the next few years brought U.S. hit singles like Lawyers In Love, Tender Is The Night, Somebody's Baby and For A Rocker, but the one we remember fondly round these parts is the cover version of Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs' Stay, recorded live on Browne's 1977 U.S. tour, with falsetto vocals by David Lindley. In 1986, Browne had another backing vocalist, a tall, blonde Hollywood actress named Daryl Hannah, who also happened to be his girlfriend. The star of Disney's Splash and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner sang on the single, You're A Friend Of Mine, but after a stormy relationship during which Browne was alleged to have beaten Hannah, the pair were friends no more, and Browne poured out his own pain on 1993's I'm Alive album.

When Jackson Browne played Lisdoonvarna in 1982, they had to build a special runway; when he plays Belfast and Dublin this week, he'll be bringing little more than his acoustic guitar, performing some of his more personal songs alongside unplugged versions of his greatest hits. Maybe he might even spill the beans about Daryl.