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Time the Conqueror
Artist: Jackson Browne
Label: Inside Recordings
Jackson Browne is the Grand Old Seer of rock n roll. For decades, he has disguised his elder of the tribe position with a fresh faced Peter-Pan-like Californian tan but on the cover here he admits that time conquers and sports a grey seer beard that will alienate him from the younger generation but authenticates the message they should be listening to. Take the CD from its cover or the download from wherever you purchase it legally and you find Browne pontificating in his articulate poetic and measured way. Where Neil Young churns out "Living With War "in a few hours and rages Jackson takes a lot longer to hone the rhyme and the melody. The sermon is no less raw but the art is a little more measured.
The lyric sheet of Time the Conquerer is full of question marks, sometimes line upon line of them and everyone rhetorical. The record begins with Browne asking what world he wants - “Time to decide what kind of world I believe in/The world wide open/Or the world about to stop breathing” - and ends with his vision of the decision made and acted upon - “Far from the arms of hunger/Far from the world disorder/Beyond the reach of war/There’s a place where we belong.” In between and he asks questions about love and sex and war. George W is the butt of both "Drums of War" and "Where Were You." The first asking all the questions that the war has thrown up about who the enemy is and what freedom and truth really are. The second asks where the President was when New Orleans went under. "Off To Wonderland" and "Giving Heaven Away" asks where the sixties have gone and all the values that formed this elder of that tribe. The latter realizes those sounds are gone but the former says it will all be better “If we could just believe in one another/As much as we believe in John” – Lennon we presume! "Live Nude Cabaret" tackles the slavery of the female form and uses Moses great shout of Liberation, “let my people go.” Elsewhere there are a few hints at his pre-protest era in some personal introspection.
As always, Browne has crafted another brilliant
album and his fans are going to love it but there is a fear that he is
not going to reach out to the lost. If you are a Jacksonite then this will
strengthen your by now well formed beliefs in what is wrong and needs to
be put right in America in particular and the a western culture in general.
But the music confines this prophetic work to the same audience and the
message is giving no curves to what that audience expects. As Nathan ambushed
David in his own protest art in ancient times so Browne needs to ambush
his own constituency. This another Browne album that gives a journalistic
assessment of 2008’s big issues but its wider return on investment maybe
needs some analysis.
Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain
at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with
88 students. He has written two books Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of
U2 which he is currently updating and The Rock Cries Out; Discovering Eternal
Truth in Unlikely Music. He dabbles in poetry and songwriting and he has
a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night
@ www.bbc.co.uk/ni/religion/rhythmandsoul). He has his own web page--Rhythms
of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org . He also tries to spend some time
with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.