Song Lyric Sunday — The Boulevard

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday  prompt, Jim Adams gave us the words Avenue, Boulevard, Drive, Lane, Road, and Street to use as our theme. I was originally going to use “Takin’ It to the Streets” by the Doobie Brothers, but then I remembered that I already used that song back in July of last year when Jim’s predecessor, Helen Vahdati gave us the word “street.” So instead I decided to go with “Boulevard” by Jackson Browne.

Written and performed by Jackson Browne from his 1980 album Hold Out, “Boulevard” peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in June 1980 and it spent 16 weeks on the chart, making it Browne’s fifth-biggest Top 40 hit.

In an interview, Browne said the song is about Hollywood Boulevard. He said, “I used to live right above Hollywood Boulevard, and there’s a place called The Gold Cup and there were a lot of runaway kids and a lot of teen prostitution around there. It was partly written from the point of view of a young person on that street, yet it’s not really immersed in that. You’re sort of empathizing with them to some degree, and also trying to say ‘it’s only time.’ It’s time on the boulevard, but this doesn’t mean this is who you are and where you’ll always be.”

Here are the song’s lyrics.

Down on the boulevard they take it hard
They look at life with such disregard
They say it can’t be won
The way the game is run
But if you choose to stay
You end up playing anyway
It’s okay…

The kid’s in shock up and down the block
The folks are home playing beat the clock
Down at the golden cup
They set the young ones up
Under the neon light
Selling day for night
It’s alright…

Nobody rides for free
Nobody gets it like they want it to be
Nobody hands you any guarantee
Nobody

The hearts are hard and the times are tough
Down on the boulevard the night’s enough
And time passes slow
Between the store front shadows and the street lights glow

Everybody walks right by like they’re safe or something
They don’t know…

Nobody knows you
Nobody owes you nothin
Nobody shows you what they’re thinking
Nobody baby

Hey, hey, baby
You got to watch the street, keep your feet
And be on guard
Make it pay baby
It’s only time on the boulevard

Song Lyric Sunday — Doctor My Eyes

My blogging buddy, Jim Adams over at A Unique Title for Me, has taken over as guest host for Helen Vahdati’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt while she takes a hiatus from blogging to deal with some health issues. Jim chose the theme for this week’s SLS to be “doctor/health/medicine.”

One of my favorite artists is Jackson Browne, and one of his first hit songs was “Doctor My Eyes.”

“Doctor My Eyes” was written by Jackson Browne and was included on his debut album Jackson Browne, which, for the longest time I thought was titled Saturate Before Using because of the album cover.5a06fc5a-34c4-4071-a480-dfa61cd86551Recorded and released in 1972, it reached number 8 on the U.S. Billboard charts that year. In the U.K., it was The Jackson 5 who had a hit with this song. Their 1973 cover went to #9.

This was Browne’s first single and it isn’t typical of his work. The radio play version ran just 2:55 and the song lacks the personal, introspective lyrics he’s known for. Still, the song did very well in America, and remains a fan favorite, garnering lots of airplay on classic rock and adult contemporary radio, and often earning a spot on Browne’s setlists.

When he first wrote the song, the lyrics were about a guy who tries to get help, but is doomed because it’s too late. His record company thought it was too much of a downer, so Browne made it into a story about a guy who has gone through a lot in life and comes to accept his fate.

Here are the lyrics to this song.

Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand

I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can

Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long

‘Cause I have wandered through this world
And as each moment has unfurled
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams
People go just where they will
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it’s later than it seems

Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what you see
I hear their cries
Just say if it’s too late for me

Doctor, my eyes
Cannot see the sky
Is this the prize for having learned how not to cry

Day 22 — Moving Forward

For today’s 30-Day Song Challenge we are asked for “a song that moves you forward.” As I thought about that prompt, I thought about transportation: a car, a train, a plane, a boat.

So for the second day in a row I’m going to tap into Jackson Browne, this time with his song “Running on Empty.”

With lyrics like these, this song is definitely about moving forward, or at least attempting to do so, even if you don’t know where moving forward will take you.

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on

Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on

Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too

Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I’d love to stick around but I’m running behind
You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find
Running into the sun but I’m running behind

Fun fact: My then girlfriend — and now my wife — and I were in the audience at the concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, on August 27, 1977 when this song, and the rest of the “Running on Empty” album, was recorded.

Day 21 — The Name Game

For today’s 30-Day Song Challenge we are asked for “a song you like with a person’s name in the title.”

There are so many songs that meet that criteria, but there’s one with, shall we say, a twist. Many who hear it assume it to be a sweet love song about a girl named Rosie. But if you listen carefully to the words, you’ll realize that it’s a song about something else entirely.

So here is Jackson Browne’s song, “Rosie.” Listen carefully to the lyrics…if you dare.

Song Lyric Sunday — Love’s Illusions

This week’s theme from Helen Vahdati for her Song Lyric Sunday prompt is “picture/photograph.” For anyone who has been following my blog, you know that I’m a big Jackson Browne fan. And perhaps my favorite Jackson Browne song is “Fountain of Sorrow.”

“Fountain of Sorrow,” written by Browne, was released as his second single from his 1974 album, Late for the Sky. Because of its lenght (6:42), it never made it to the Billboard Hot 100 listing, but it’s still considered one of his best known, best loved songs.

The song starts out with someone looking through some photographs and is surprised by what he sees. According to Browne, the song “talks about disappointment, but in a forgiving way.” He explained that “it acknowledges that people are always looking for something in each other that they may not find. The song says that not only is that okay, but what’s more enduring is the goodwill and acceptance of each others’ right to be on this search and to make your own choices, and that one’s longing or sorrow is part of your own search, not a byproduct of somebody else’s.”

Some have suggested that the song was inspired by Browne’s brief relationship with Joni Mitchell, another one of my favorite artists. One quality of this song, and of many of Browne’s work, is his ability to make very personal experiences seem almost universal.

There are so many great lines in this song, but a few, like “What I was seeing wasn’t what was happening at all / Although for a while, our path did seem to climb,” and “And while the future’s there for anyone to change, still you know it seems / It would be easier sometimes to change the past” stand out in particular. And this one makes me feel quite sad, because it has happened to me: “When you see through love’s illusions, there lies the danger / And your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool.”

Here are the lyrics to “Fountain of Sorrow.”

Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer
I was taken by a photograph of you
There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more
But they didn’t show your spirit quite as true

You were turning ’round to see who was behind you
And I took your childish laughter by surprise
And at the moment that my camera happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your eyes

Now the things that I remember seem so distant and so small
Though it hasn’t really been that long a time
What I was seeing wasn’t what was happening at all
Although for a while, our path did seem to climb

When you see through love’s illusions, there lies the danger
And your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool
So you go running off in search of a perfect stranger
While the loneliness seems to spring from your life
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You’ve known that hollow sound of your own steps in flight
You’ve had to hide sometimes, but now you’re all right
And it’s good to see your smiling face tonight

Now for you and me it may not be that hard to reach our dreams
But that magic feeling never seems to last
And while the future’s there for anyone to change, still you know it seems
It would be easier sometimes to change the past

I’m just one or two years and a couple of changes behind you
In my lessons at love’s pain and heartache school
Where if you feel too free and you need something to remind you
There’s this loneliness springing up from your life
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You’ve known that hollow sound of your own steps in flight
You’ve had to hide sometimes but now you’re all right
And it’s good to see your smiling face tonight

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You’ve known that hollow sound of your own steps in flight
You’ve had to struggle, you’ve had to fight
To keep understanding and compassion in sight
You could be laughing at me, you’ve got the right
But you go on smiling so clear and so bright