Sunday, August 05, 2018

Songs of '78: "The Load-Out/Stay"

If Joe Walsh's rock and roll song about the rock and roll life was bleary and crashing and awesome, this epic by Jackson Browne is earnest and reflective and equally awesome. (Between these two self-referential pop masterpieces, I'm not sure there's much left to explore about the rock and roll life--though Robyn Hitchcock's Soft Boys tune, "Mr. Kennedy," which has haunted me for years, might challenge that.) The fact that "The Load-Out" (a Jackson Browne original) and "Stay" (a doo-wop and R&B standard by Maurice Williams) merged so well to express an artist's ambiguous understanding of her own audience, to say nothing to finding such a solid place in my memory of 1978, is entirely due to Browne's wonderful alignment of them in the live concerts which he recorded for his 1977 album Running on Empty.

At a concert in Maryland in 1977, Browne ended with "The Load-Out," then used "Stay" to segue in the encores. Two musicians on that tour, Rosemary Butler and David Lindley, carried "Stay" to tremendous heights--and that's what ended up on the album. Those album versions of both "Stay" and "The Load-Out" were released as a single (with "The Load-Out" as the B-side; talk about getting things backwards!), but eventually, on August 5, 1978, 40 years ago today, the studio released them as they were heard by the crowds and by fans of the album, as a promotional single, and the radio stations--and listeners like me--at it up. And why wouldn't we? This is genius music, folks.


AbbotOfUnreason said...

Wow, most of these I’ve been on board for, but I don’t remember this one at all.

I like it. It’s no Lawyers in Love

Russell Arben Fox said...

Love Lawyers in Love. Not as much as this, but I do love it.