Waiting Here For Everyman

I had first heard about Jackson Browne while reading an interview with David Crosby. He was raving about this songwriter whose record he had just completed all the background vocals for. It knocked him out. At the time I was a young rocker in Miami, Florida, making my way into the competitive pro scene. I was hungry. My gnawing guts were looking for exactly what Crosby was talking about – that kind of music that communicates on multi-levels, fearless, honest and necessary music.

Shortly thereafter, I found “Saturate Before Using,” put the needle in the groove, heard “Jamaica Say You Will,” and immediately knew what I wanted to do, what I wanted to be – I knew I was hearing music that defined everything I had imagined music could/should communicate – music I wanted to make. Yes, the Stratocaster paid my bills, but my Martin D-28 was what I slept with, drank my morning coffee with, partied with – was my constant companion. I wrote God-awful songs – every minute I wasn’t “working” my electric guitar. I worked hard at the craft of songwriting – harder than anything I had ever worked at before. (I’m still at it too….)

And then “For Everyman” was released. “Take it Easy” seguing into “Our Lady of the Well,” and my addiction progressed. The title track makes my remaining hair stand up to this day: “But don’t think too badly of one who’s left holding sand / He’s just another dreamer, dreaming about Everyman.” Well that was me. I was that guy. Playing six nights a week in bars left me “holding sand.” All the idealism of my generation (at that time) was screaming in me, and here was someone reaching out – and connecting – with me!

Jackson was really just getting started. His apocalyptic vision expanded; his canvas was almost too large for the vinyl to hold, but the onslaught of pain, optimism, clarity continued: “For a Dancer,” “Before the Deluge,” “Bright Baby Blues,” and, my lord, “The Pretender”!

Wasn’t I “Caught between the longing for love /And the struggle for the legal tender”? Weren’t we all? I didn’t want to be a pretender, and there I was, still showing up every night, playing music in bars, coming home and dreaming. Dreaming. Dreaming…. When I heard “Say a prayer for the Pretender / Who started out so young and strong /Only to surrender,” I knew it was my whole generation in the struggle – and that I wasn’t ever going to surrender….

And here now, in 2016, I’m still not going to….

When my phone rang and Jonathan (whom I had never met) asked me if I was interested being a part of his vision – an ensemble of artists to perform the music of Jackson Browne, my response was “I can play electric guitar, acoustic guitar, sing – I’ll play bass – I’ll do anything.”

So now I am the bass player for “Running on Empty.” I get to work with a group of accomplished musicians and singers who share the same vision of quality, value of tunesmanship and love of music that truly communicates that I have. It is a joyous experience to be among such a diversely talented group of artists – a blessing. To perform this music, to present it with the reverence and love it deserves is a dream manifested.

I can’t wait to get this thing on the road. There is a lot in this world that still needs to be said … and this music says it – always has.

—Howard Jeffrey