I heard this Jackson Browne classic last night driving home from picking up a pizza and beer. Mind you, this is not quite as unimaginative as it sounds; it was gourmet pizza from Lola’s and Rogue Morimoto. There is something quite comforting about this kind of meal for me on a chilly rainy night. I’ll take it over the finest dining any day.
Runnin’ on Empty is on JB’s album of the same name released in 1977. It was his fifth album, and is unusual among live albums in that none of the tracks had ever appeared on a previous studio album. He recorded tracks on-stage during concerts, but also in hotel rooms, on the tour bus, and backstage. Over 30 years later, it is his best-selling album.
Even as a child in the 1970s, I could tell something was up with this record. I was fascinated by the voice of an obviously still-young man, already cataloguing the phases of his life and his increasingly fragile grip on the belief that he had control over his own destiny.
I’ve heard this song hundreds of times. Without fail, I cannot turn it off when I come across it on the radio. I love the masterful combination of apprehensiveness, urgency, and hopefulness about the inevitable passage of time, and his willingness to keep “running into the sun” at the same time he knows he doesn’t know what he’s looking for exactly or if he’ll ever find it.
This picture of Mr. Browne is from March 2008.