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With his upcoming performance at the Carpenter Center, Jackson Browne proves that after some 30 years in the music business, he's no pretender.

The Next Voice You Hear

Baby-boomer types hooked on singer-songwriter fare back in the early '70s welcomed Jackson Browne when he burst onto a national scene rife with rebellion and political turmoil. His musical portraits of searchers lost on life's way not only found critical acclaim, but they quickly found an audience living through its own uncertain days. Browne's songs of heart and mind fit a time when many looked for the hard truths that were always just out of reach.

Through the years, Browne proved his durability and fulfilled his musical promise by playing small venues and rock arenas. On Wednesday, May 17, Browne will visit the Carpenter Center with the same solo acoustic soul that first caught the attention of listeners in little clubs across the country almost 30 years ago.

Browne's musical talent has driven him since he was a teen growing up in Los Angeles amidst the '60s California spirit. He joined an early version of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at 18, but split within months. After a number of his first songs received some attention, Browne headed to the thriving Greenwich Village music scene. In 1967, he found himself hanging out with Andy Warhol and backing up Warhol's favorite chanteuse, Nico. But Browne found California's peace and love vibe meant more to him than New York's dirty streets. He returned to L.A. in '68 and began recording demos and meeting the right music folks. Established singers such as Tom Rush started cutting his tunes.

In 1972, Browne signed with Asylum Records and released "Jackson Browne." His earnest baritone rang true, and the record contained a set of poetic songs that spoke for those who, like Browne, were searching for answers. His tunes had a rock feel yet rang with a timeless lyrical content; music writers of the time fell over themselves praising him. Browne didn't let up. He quickly released "For Everyman" and "Late for the Sky," and in 1976, he cut his first top 10 album, "The Pretender," which is acknowledged as his most popular. In the 20-plus years that followed, Browne cut eight more projects that had their share of hits and misses. His most recent release, in 1997, matched a couple of new tunes with some of the old favorites for "The Next Voice You Hear: The Best of Jackson Browne."

Regardless of fickle commercial popularity, Browne has always had a following that watched his writing evolve as his world vision changed. His recordings chart a life that's moved through personal tragedy to social activism to a return to his tales of loves won and lost. Each project is an integrated look at a slice of humanity, whether it's the young dreamer's uncertainty, the activist's anger with a system that kills for corporate profits, or the mature lover's restless struggle for truth. But if the characters change, the intent remains true. From 1972's "Song for Adam," where the singer knows no destination yet keeps a candle's hopeful flicker aglow, to 1995's "Looking East," where life is a battleground between right and wrong, Browne's honest and humane vision has remained a touchstone for the heart of the

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