If Southern California rock poet Jackson Browne runs true to form this weekend at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, the show may not end at the end of the show.
At least that's how it was almost a year ago there when Browne and his indefatigable backup band, The Section, laid down two live tracks that later appeared on their latest (1977) album. The chart-riding title song, "Running on Empty," and "Load Out," a musical tribute to roadies, were both products of the August 27, 1977, concert at the Pavillon, and it's a good bet that those tunes will draw special notice from Browne's loyal cadre of local fans.
Browne is no stranger to Washington concert audiences - indeed, he seems to have a special affection for them. It was, after all, Jackson Browne (in his activist persona) who highlighted the "Sun Day" solar energy benefit concert on the Mall last May. And it is Jackson Browne who has made a point of including this area on most every concert tour of the past few years.
There is, at the same time, an unspoken etiquette, a private protocol that Browne concert audiences are expected to observe. First and foremost: refrain from requesting the 1973 song "Ready or Not," which is generally recognized as a tragically humorous account of Browne's courtship and subsequent marriage to a woman who committed suicide shortly before the intial production stages of the 1976 "Pretender" album. Browne is understandably sensitive about this tune: "We don't play that song anymore," he angrily told a shocked Constitution Hall audience in the fall of 1976 when fans shouted the request from the upper reaches of the auditorium.
On the brighter side, Browne revels in audience contact, and a song request shouted in unison will often elicit a response from the singer, such as "That's coming up" or "We don't play that song on the road." His sense of performer-spectator community is nicely immortalized in the band's version of Maurice William's hit, "Stay":
People stay just a little bit longer
We want to play - just a little bit longer
Now the promoter don't mind
And the union don't mind
If we take a little time
And leave it all behind and sing
One more song -
- From "Running on Empty" (Asylum 6E113)
It's always one more song for the tireless Jackson Browne, one more for the road. And the crowed never seems to mind.