One Track Mind: Don Henley with Blind Pilot, “These Days” from Looking Into You: A Tribute To Jackson Browne (2014)

What with the semi-permanent scowl that’s plastered on Don Henley’s face these days (ask Frank Ocean! Or better yet, ask Okkervil River!), it’s easy to forget just how resonant his voice can be. “These Days,” a track written by a teenaged Jackson Browne and featured on a forthcoming double-album tribute to the singer-songwriter called Looking Into You, provides a striking reminder.

Somewhere along the way, even as his recording career (both as part of the Eagles and not) fell into a quiet moment, Henley’s formerly appealing circumspection transformed into a crabby kind of old-mandom, not withstanding that hipster goutee. But returning to music written by his long-time confederate Browne appears to have sent cracks running up to every corner of Henley’s facade. There was always a memorable sense of regret surrounding this lyric, amazing when you think about how old Browne was when he composed it, and Henley’s world-weary vocal is a perfect vehicle for it. The Oregon folk act Blind Pilot only adds to the tune’s sweetly enveloping sadness.

“These Days,” of course, follows a similarly stirring redo of Browne’s “Rosie” by Lyle Lovett as advance peeks into Looking Into You: A Tribute To Jackson Browne, which also promises updates from Bonnie Raitt, fellow Eagles collaborator J.D. Souther and husband-and-wife Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa. The album is due April 28, 2014 via Music Road Records.

Browne co-wrote the Eagles’ hit “Take It Easy” with Glenn Frey, and did his own version for 1973’s For Everyman — an album that featured both Frey and Henley as guests. Browne also co-wrote the Eagles’ “Doolin-Dalton” and “James Dean” with Frey, Henley and Souther. Nico’s version of “These Days,” originally found on her 1967 album Chelsea Girl and featuring Browne on guitar, later appeared as part of the soundtrack to 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Henley’s most recent studio effort was 2000’s Inside Job; his last new album with the Eagles came six years ago, with Long Road Out of Eden.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Bonnie Fyffe

    Well, I do love this song, which speaks to me and for me of now, these days. Very glad Henley chose it for the tribute.