And so continues a rather lengthy series of Jackson Browne LPs. I can’t recall when or where I picked up this copy of Running On Empty, but it’s one of those records that’s so good and so ubiquitously found in every dollar or fifty-cent bin of vinyl that I often find myself coming upon it and regretting that I already have it; so righteous was the feeling of discovering it for the first time.
A mixture of songs recorded live on stage, in hotel rooms, and in the backs of busses, Running On Empty has a rich, organic texture that comes across as a sublime fusion of spontaneity and careful craftsmanship (which, I suppose, would be an apt way to describe the majority of Jackson’s catalogue). I have a particularly fond memory of listening to this record a few years ago with an old friend from out of town who, after many glasses of wine, wanted absolute silence during “Rosie,” a song that held for her a unique, personal significance relating to her stepfather and the impossible connection it provided them between some great divide of resentment and sorrow.
In his 1978 review of the record, Rolling Stone’s Paul Nelson wrote: “What I really like about Running on Empty probably has little to do with the generosity or genius of its dual concepts, with the songwriter’s craftmanship skill, with how much I admire the music of David Lindley and the Section, but rather with Jackson Browne himself. In other words, as impressed as I am with Jackson Browne’s art, I’m even more impressed with the humanity that shines through it. Maybe they’re inseparable, but I doubt it.”
The touring photos inside the LP jacket are, of course, most excellent. Particularly the shot below: