Interview: Jackson Browne: ‘People want to see you stumble’

Earlier this month, some of Jackson Browne”s friends, including Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt and many more, covered their favorite Browne tunes for  “Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne.”

The set also included some newer singer/songwriters, like Griffin House and Bob Schneider, with whom he was not as familiar but now considers himself a fan.

The release comes at a time when Browne is working on a new album and so he was a little wary of revisiting some of his biggest hits, especially delivered in such an appealing way.

“It”s funny because you tend to compete with your younger self anyway. You tend to always try to do something worthy of what you”ve done already,” he said, when we interviewed him last week at the ASCAP Pop Awards. He was presenting the Founders Award to Tom Petty.  “[The tribute] comes at a time when I”m trying to make a new record and I didn”t really want to hear too much of that and it”s like ‘Damn, that”s good. That”s a great record.” I”ve written a few songs, but who knew all this time that all these songs really needed was a singer.”

One of Browne”s new tunes already showed up on the internet, but, as he laughed about it in the video, it was hardly the version he wanted out there. It was during a performance when he “completely went blank” on the lyrics.  Though he”s fine with it now, he mused over the fact that, for better or worse, seeing him sing it badly, as opposed to all the nights he”s sung it perfectly, is what people want to see. “That”s what people want. They want to see you stumble.”

In the above interview, Browne also talks about artists he never misses when they come to town.