His early life reads like a Cameron Crowe story. Born in Heidelberg, Germany where his father was stationed in 1948, Clyde Jackson Brown moved with his family to the Highland Park district of Los Angeles at the age of three and began singing in local folk venues as a teen.
After graduating from high school in 1966 he moved to Greenwich Village and joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which often opened for The Lovin’ Spoonful and later recorded a number of his songs. Browne also served as a staff writer for Elektra Records Publishing, and reported on music events around New York.
In ‘67/68 he backed Tim Buckley and the German-born, Nico (of “La Dolce Vita” and Velvet Underground fame), with whom he had a serious fling. As a matter of fact he served as a major contributor on Nico’s debut album, “Chelsea Girl” and she was first to record “These Days”.
By 1969 Browne was back in California, continuing to write songs that were first recorded by others including: Tom Rush, Greg Allman, Linda Ronstadt, the Byrds and the Eagles. It was his neighbor, Glenn Frey (of the Eagles) who added the famous second verse (ahem) about “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” for one such song (“Take it Easy”) and the City of Winslow went on to erect a life size bronze statue of “the event” on one of its street corners in commemoration.
But Jackson Browne, who early-on was self-conscious about his “unmannered” singing voice, didn’t record any of his own versions of these songs until 1971/72 when he released his eponymous debut album, which included this surprise hit single that peaked at Number 8 on the Billboard Chart.
He wouldn’t see another Top 10 again until 1982 when “Somebody’s Baby” hit Number 7. That song, of course, was part of the soundtrack for “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” written by…Cameron Crowe.
Doctor, My Eyes
Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand
I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can
Doctor, my eyes, tell me what is wrong
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long
‘Cause I have wandered through this world
And as each moment has unfurled
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams
People go just where they will
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it’s later than it seems
Doctor, my eyes, tell me what you see
I hear their cries, just say if it’s too late for me
Doctor, my eyes, cannot see the sky
Is this the price for having learned how not to cry