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THE NEXT SONG YOU HEAR .............
on November 19, 2000
..... may not be the one you're expecting. While Browne has included "Doctor My Eyes", "The Pretender", and "Running On Empty" in this 15 - track retrospective, many of the songs we might have expected are conspicuous by their absence. Note: The album's title is "Best Of," not "Greatest Hits."
The artist has stated that this collection was put together in a way such that it would provide the listener an account, or a "record" of his state of mind during different stages of his long career. Browne has never been one to hide his emotions, and, by listening to this set chronologically, the listener is able to get a great feel for his growth as a songwriter, because of the songs that ARE included here, not in spite of the ones that aren't. A novel concept, in my opinion.
Personally speaking, I bought the disc for three reasons: First, it includes "Somebody's Baby", a track that had never been released on a Jackson Browne album. (Maybe on the soundtrack to "Fast Times At Ridgemont High," if there is such a thing). Second, "The Rebel Jesus" is a wonderful song featuring long - time Browne collaborator and friend David Lindley. I had heard a version of "Rebel" on a Chieftains Christmas album, with Jackson providing the vocals, and this reading, while quite different, is just as moving. Third, for the "bonus" track, the title cut. It's pretty much basic Browne fare, but hey, it's new Browne, and how often does that happen? Also, a "basic" Jackson Browne song is usually much better than a "great" song by anyone else in this genre.
I own everything Browne has ever recorded, so the only surprise here was the inclusion of so many of the "lesser - known" songs, and how they seemed to fit into the pattern of the recording. "These Days" and "Call It A Loan" are prime examples - both are superb songs that probably didn't receive the attention they deserved when originally released. Interestingly enough, only one "political" song is present here, the haunting "Lives In The Balance." Browne was beaten up pretty badly by the so - called experts during the "Lawyers In Love" / "Lives In The Balance" / "World In Motion" trilogy, and I was glad to see he included "Lives" here. Jackson Browne has always been outspoken politically, and to eschew that portion of his career when the bulk of his music was politically motivated would have provided an incomplete story.
"The Next Voice You Hear" gives those who have only heard "Doctor My Eyes" and "Running On Empty" a chance to hear what they have been missing. For those of us who are long - time fans, it's an opportunity to revisit bits and pieces of the Browne catalog and realize again why his music has meant so much to us for such a long time.