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In addition to the religious music I’ve been playing lately, I’ve found Jackson Browne’s new album “Solo Acoustic, Volume One” a lovely influence. It’s his first live album in twenty-eight years. Many of the songs are acoustic renditions of his hits of the 1970s, so for folk music fans and soft rockers older than forty-five, this album will stir long-forgotten emotions of times past.
I got curious about Browne’s religious affiliations, and unearthed an old interview that Browne gave to students at a middle school he visited. I think you’ll find this interesting:
“I’m not a member of an organized religion or faith. My grandmother was Lutheran. My mother belonged to the Unitarian Church, which applies progressive social ideas to the form of worship.
“But the truth is, I am religious…A friend of mine named Fred Martin is director of the gospel choir of a high school I go to sometimes. He lets me come, and I love this music…This music is a tremendous force; it comes from the Baptist tradition…They’re definitely singing the praises of God. But one time, Fred wanted me to sing in church with them, and I said, ‘I’d be very happy to, but you know, Fred, I’m not really a Christian exactly.’ He says, ‘That’s okay. That’s all right.’ So he gets me up there in front of the church, and I’m wearing a suit to perform one of the songs I perform with the choir, and he says, ‘Now Brother Jackson here says he’s not a Christian.’ There’s a big silence. Then he says,’Yet!’ Everybody applauded.
“Later, he said to me, ‘I don’t get you, why you say you’re not a Christian ’cause you do what Christians do.’ He was talking about my activism in human rights, the environment, and especially for social justice, you know, working for kids…but I said, ‘Fred, you know, Hindus believe in what I do, too.’ And so do Muslims, actually. Islam was founded by a prophet of God, like the prophets in the Christian religion. One of the tenets of Islam is to start taking care of the orphans, the widows, and the poor instead of having this entirely material view of life. So I said, ‘Fred, yeah, it’s true…I believe in the teachings of Christ, but these same beliefs are held by others.’
“The closest thing I belong to that’s like a church is a group of friends that over the course of twenty or thirty years have probably done hundreds and hundreds of benefit performances to raise funds for a variety of causes. There’s no name for us. We call ourselves ‘the usual suspects’ or funny names like ‘the bleeding hearts.”