Singer Jackson Browne doesn’t just talk the talk. Not only does he have a ranch in rural California that is off the grid in terms of its energy use and environmental impact, he also operates with a plasticfree backstage while on tour, and travels in buses that run on bio-diesel.
Even his stage lighting is outfitted with energy-reduced bulbs. “I wanted to try it myself and see how hard it is,” he said. “It turned out to be not hard at all.”
His next song, If I Could Be Anywhere, has yet to be released, is about the environmental impact of plastic. Browne has campaigned for years about the impact plastic water bottles have on our ecosystem, primarily with the regard to the ocean. “Why is it that something that is made to be used once is designed to last forever?” he asked. “It’s a supposed convenience, but it’s not convenient at all to be vulnerable to disease.”
Writing the song was no easy feat, Browne said.
“It’s hard to talk about things that require a lot of actual info, and do that in a song, but it is something I’m trying to do. It’s not as if it easy to sing about plastic. But I’m curious.”
Jackson Browne spent much of his childhood in a home built by his grandfather, Clyde Browne, a printmaker and musician who had the 1915 stone house outfitted with a pipe organ.
The Spanish-styled structure, whose patio is featured on the cover of Browne’s second album, 1973’s For Everyman, proved to be a key development in the life of a man many consider to be one of the finest American songwriters of his generation.
Browne is big on the next generation, especially in terms of preservation. The author of the hits Running on Empty, Somebody’s Baby and Doctor My Eyes is a familiar face at benefit concerts worldwide, a humanitarian and environmentalist who for decades has decried harmful policies and practices – often at the risk of his own career.
A quarter-century after the release of his most overtly political album, Lives in the Balance, Browne remains defiant in his approach. “That kind of thought comes up when you see something like the nuclear situation in Japan,” he said.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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