Discography

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Lives In The Balance

Released: 1986

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Lives In The Balance

On Browne's recent Lives In The Balance album, sharply etched political songs question cultural imperialism, foreign policy and the current state of the American Dream.

Richard Harrington, Washington Post, June 18, 1986.

First single, "For America," is indicative of the collection's tone-staunchly anti-war and embittered by the sense of ironic betrayal that characterized political songwriting during the Nixon years.

Billboard, March 1, 1986

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Browne draws strength from rock as if it were a religion. His phrasing is concise; his arrangements and melodies are terse and memorable; his production is uncluttered. These musical and lyrical gains define Lives in the Balance, but Browne hasn't completely abandoned the love songs with which he's made a lucrative career. "In the Shape of a Heart," when Browne finds the right couplets, rhyming "I guess I never knew/What she was talking about" with "I guess I never knew/What she was living without," he nails heartbreak to the wall and sends his listeners scurrying for the Kleenex. Browne didn't place an image of the Statue of Liberty on the cover of his album just so he could jump on the Rambo express. He implies throughout the album that, like the statue, we're all weather-beaten and in need of some reconstruction. Jackson Browne no longer believes he can change the world - the closing "Black and White" is drenched in defeatism - but he doesn't use his fatalism as a crutch or a reason to quit. Sure, time's running out, but it's not over yet. (RS 471)

Jimmy Gutterman, Rolling Stone

  • 1. FOR AMERICA
    As if I really didn't understand
    That I was just another part of their plan
    I went off looking for the promise
    Believing in the Motherland
    And from the comfort of a dreamer's bed
    And the safety to my own head
    I went on speaking of the future
    While other people fought and bled
    The kid I was when I first left home
    Was looking for his freedom and a life of his own
    But the freedom that he found wasn't quite as sweet
    When the truth was known
    I have prayed for America
    I was made for America
    It's in my blood and in my bones
    By the dawn s early light
    By all I know is right
    We're going to reap what we have sown

    As if freedom was a question to might
    As if loyalty was black and white
    You hear people say it all the time-
    "My country wrong or right"
    I want to know what that's got to do
    With what it takes to find out what's true
    With everyone from the President on down
    Trying to keep it from you

    The thing I wonder about the Dads and Moms
    Who send their sons to the Vietnams
    Will they really think their way of life
    Has been protected as the next war comes?
    I have prayed for America
    I was made for America
    Her shining dream plays in my mind
    By the rockets red glare
    A generation's blank stare
    We better wake her up this time

    The kid I was when I first left home
    Was looking for his freedom and a life of his own
    But the freedom that he found wasn't quite as sweet
    When the truth was known
    I have prayed for America
    I was made for America
    I can't let go till she comes around
    Until the land of the free
    Is awake and can see
    And until her conscience has been found

    Words and music by Jackson Browne
    1986 Swallow Turn Music ASCAP
    All Rights Reserved
  • 2. SOLDIER OF PLENTY
    God is great, God is good
    He guards your neighborhood
    Though it's generally understood
    Not quite the way you would
    You try to take the slack
    Stay awake and watch his back
    But something happens every now and then
    And someone breaks into the promised land
    Ah boy boy
    This world is not your toy
    This world is long on hunger
    This world is short on joy

    A-E-I-O
    You speak as if you know
    What's good for everyone
    What's good in what you've done?
    What's good about a world in which
    War rages at a fever pitch
    And people die for the little things
    A little corn, a little beans

    Ah boy boy
    This world is not your toy
    This world is, this world is
    Long on hunger
    Short on joy
    How much longer
    You gonna keep the world hungry boy?

    You measure peace with guns
    Progress in mega-tons
    Who's left when the war is won?
    Soldier of misfortune--
    Soldier of an angry call
    Soldier on foreign soil
    I'm not here to fight your war
    I know what you're fighting for

    Ah boy boy
    This world is not your toy
    This world is, this world is
    Long on hunger
    Short on joy
    How much longer
    You gonna keep the world hungry boy?

    Words and music by Jackson Browne
    1986 Swallow Turn Music ASCAP
    All Rights Reserved
  • 3. IN THE SHAPE OF A HEART
    It was a ruby that she wore
    On a chain around her neck
    In the shape of a heart
    In the shape of a heart
    It was a time I wont forget
    For the sorrow and regret
    And the shape of a heart
    And the shape of a heart
    I guess I never knew
    What she was talking about
    I guess I never knew
    What she was living without

    People speak of love dont know what theyre thinking of
    Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
    Speak in terms of belief and belonging
    Try to fit some name to their longing
    People speak of love

    There was a hole left in the wall
    From some ancient fight
    About the size of a fist
    Or something thrown that had missed
    And there were other holes as well
    In the house where our nights fell
    Far too many to repair
    In the time that we were there

    People speak of love dont know what theyre thinking of
    Reach out to each other though the push and shove
    Speak in terms of a life and the learning
    Try to think of a word for the burning

    You keep it up
    You try so hard
    To keep a life from coming apart
    And never know
    What breaches and faults are concealed
    In the shape of a heart

    It was the ruby that she wore
    On a stand beside the bed
    In the hour before dawn
    When I knew she was gone
    And I held it in my hand
    For a little while
    And dropped it into the wall
    Let it go, heard it fall
    I guess I never knew
    What she was talking about
    I guess I never knew
    What she was living without

    People speak of love dont know what theyre thinking of
    Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
    Speak in terms of a life and the living
    Try to find the word for forgiving

    You keep it up
    You try so hard
    To keep a life from coming apart
    And never know
    The shallows and the unseen reefs
    That are there from the start
    In the shape of a heart

    Words and music by Jackson Browne
    1986 Swallow Turn Music ASCAP
    All Rights Reserved
  • 4. CANDY
    Daughter of a woman who comes and goes
    Candy
    Daughter of a man she barely knows
    Candy
    All grown up about the things
    People know to do
    How to take a love and tear it in two
    No no that isn't how it's gonna be
    For Candy

    She wants to be in love
    But she doesn't know why
    Candy
    You think she's a child
    Look at her now
    My my Candy

    Step by step this is her debut
    Looking for love that's made to stay true
    Step by step she's looking for more than I see
    Candy
    Candy
    You know what your love is worth
    It's a good thing baby
    Candy
    Take care of your own love first
    What the world needs now-

    All the young men want to pin her down
    Candy
    If you're looking for a real love
    It's a ghost town
    Candy

    Step by step this is her debut
    Looking for love that's made to stay true
    Step by step she's looking for more than I see
    Candy

    By Greg Copeland and Wally Stocker
    1986 Nel Mezzo Music ASCAP, Wally Stocker Publishing BMI
    All Rights Reserved
  • 5. LAWLESS AVENUES
    Papa hit him, Mama kissed him
    Made him go to catechism
    With the sisters in their black and white
    And all the time those city streets
    Were teaching him another kind of wisdom
    When to run and when to fight
    Up at the playground after school
    Listening to tales of the prison system
    And those lawless avenues

    Dawn on a half-darkened street
    A childs footsteps repeat
    And something there turns them
    Down those lawless avenues

    Silent Joe went down so bad
    He was the strongest fighter the avenues had
    Stabbed in the chesthe went down swinging
    Someone from some other part of town
    No one even seen it coming down
    And you dont hear no church bells ringing
    And in the violent night the police light
    Sweeps across the lots and the yards
    Following those lawless avenues

    Down on a half-darkened street
    Armies advance and retreat
    And struggle to take control
    From those lawless avenues

    Manuelitos sister Rosa
    Ran away with a surfer from Hermosa
    Manuelito, cuida a Rosa,
    Ay, mira cmo estn las cosas!

    But who could blame her after she saw
    Every boy die who could have gotten close to her
    Rosa es joven y slo quiere
    Ver la belleza del mundo

    Manuel said,
    "You gotta fight for what you want in this life"
    Just before they shipped him overseas to Nam
    Otra guerra sin razn
    Otra guerra sin fin, sin honor

    And she was fighting to understand
    When they shipped Manuelitos body home
    All she heard was one more shot
    Echoing down lawless avenues

    Hoy, amigo, tal igual como ayer
    La lucha en el barrio no cambia
    Nuestros hijos son los que han de crecer
    Por ley de la calle
    Viviendo entre abrazos y chingazos

    Down on a half-darkened street
    Fathers and sons lives repeat
    And something there turns them
    Down those lawless avenues

    Down on a half-darkened street
    En el calor de la calle
    Down on a half-darkened street
    Buscan valor en la calle
    Down on a half-darkened street
    Hasta final de la calle

    By Jorge Calderon and Jackson Browne
    1986 Swallow Turn Music ASCAP, Googoplex Music BMI
    All Rights Reserved
  • 6. LIVES IN THE BALANCE
    Ive been waiting for something to happen
    For a week or a month or a year
    With the blood in the ink of the headlines
    And the sound of the crowd in my ear
    You might ask what it takes to remember
    When you know that youve seen it before
    Where a government lies to a people
    And a country is drifting to war

    And theres a shadow on the faces
    Of the men who send the guns
    To the wars that are fought in places
    Where their business interest runs

    On the radio talk shows and the TV
    You hear one thing again and again
    How the USA stands for freedom
    And we come to the aid of a friend
    But who are the ones that we call our friends
    These governments killing their own?
    Or the people who finally cant take any more
    And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
    There are lives in the balance
    There are people under fire
    There are children at the cannons
    And there is blood on the wire

    Theres a shadow on the faces
    Of the men who fan the flames
    Of the wars that are fought in places
    Where we cant even say the names

    They sell us the President the same way
    They sell us our clothes and our cars
    They sell us everything from youth to religion
    The same time they sell us our wars
    I want to know who the men in the shadows are
    I want to hear somebody asking them why
    They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
    But theyre never the ones to fight or to die
    And there are lives in the balance
    There are people under fire
    There are children at the cannons
    And there is blood on the wire

    Words and music by Jackson Browne
    1986 Swallow Turn Music ASCAP
    All Rights Reserved
  • 7. TILL I GO DOWN
    Till I go down
    Till I go down
    Till I go down
    I'm not gonna shut my eyes
    Till I go down

    I'm not gonna shut my eyes
    I've already seen the lies
    On the faces of the men at war
    Leading people to the killing floor
    Till I go down
    Till I go down
    Till I go down
    I'm not gonna shut my eyes
    No no

    Till I go down
    Till the world stops spinning around
    Till I'm six feet under the ground
    Till there's no sound
    Till there's no pain
    I'm gonna swing this chain
    Till I go down

    I'm not gonna shut my mouth
    I'm for the truth to come out
    About the leader with the iron will
    And his allegiance to the dollar bill

    Till I go down
    Till I go down
    Till I go down
    I'm not gonna shut my eyes
    Till I go down

    Words and music by Jackson Browne
    1986 Swallow Turn Music ASCAP
    All Rights Reserved
  • 8. BLACK AND WHITE
    Long Before you ever saw your chances
    You were going to burn this city down
    Tired of the fashions and the dances
    Tired of the people standing around
    Ticking like a bomb in the night
    And you knew you were right
    Black and white

    Blame it on the time it took to leave here
    Blame it on the ones who slowed you down
    Blame it on the kind of friends you knew here
    Blame it on the sickness going round
    Going round and round in the night
    With your heart out of sight
    With your world burning bright
    Like a moth 'round a light
    Black and white
    The pictures of a life in flames
    Black and white
    The picture of a life remains
    And the search you half remember
    Setting out on at the start
    Is burning like an ember in your heart

    Time running out time running out
    For the fool still asking what his life is about
    Time running out time running out
    Time running out time running out
    Yeah beyond a shadow of a doubt
    Time running out time running out

    Tell them that you've gone to find a person
    Someone you lost track of long ago
    Tell them that it's someone you need worse than
    Anybody else you'll ever know
    Ticking like a bomb in the night
    You were strong, you were light
    You were fast, you were bright
    Then you were gone in the light
    Black and white
    The pictures of a life in flames
    Black and white
    The picture of a life remains
    And the high ideals and the promise
    You once dressed the future in
    Are dancing in the embers with the wind

    Time running out time running out
    For the fool still asking what his life is about
    Time running out time running out
    Time running out time running out
    Yeah, beyond a shadow of a doubt
    Time running out time running out

    Words and music by Jackson Browne
    1986 Swallow Turn Music ASCAP
    All Rights Reserved