I reached No. 350 in the 350 Jersey Songs series in September 2015, but occasionally add a new “bonus” pick. Here’s another one.
Jackson Browne’s 1977 Running on Empty was a concept album about life on the road and, appropriately enough, he recorded it on the road, in New Jersey and other states.
According to the liner notes, “You Love the Thunder” and part of “The Road” were recorded live at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, and “Nothing but Time” was recorded on a Continental Silver Eagle tour bus “somewhere in New Jersey” with drummer Russell Kunkel playing “a snare, hi-hat and cardboard box with a foot pedal.”
In “Nothing but Time,” Browne sings about being on a tour bus after a show in Portland, Maine, “still high from the people up there” while on the way to the next show. “Gonna make it to New Jersey, gonna set it up and do it again,” he sings.
There’s wine and cocaine on the bus, and “There ain’t nothing’ but time between this Silver Eagle and that New Jersey line.”The bus is a “rolling motel” where it’s hard to get any sleep, he sings. It’s a kind a “twilight zone.”
By the way, the Portland show, at the Cumberland County Civic Center, was on Sept. 3, 1977, and the Holmdel shows were on Sept. 6-7. The next show I could find was Sept. 11 at the Concord Pavilion in Concord, Calif., though possibly there was something before then.
According to the liner notes, “Nothing but Time” was recorded on Sept. 8. So while “Nothing but Time” was presumably written during the trip from Maine to New Jersey, the version on the album was— assuming the liner notes are correct— recorded after the second Holmdel show, possibly in the early morning hours of the next day. So while he’s singing about going to New Jersey, he’s actually on his way out of the state.
The album was released in December 1977.
Still on the road 40 years later, at the age of 68, Browne will perform at the Garden State Arts Center (now known as the PNC Bank Arts Center) again, Sept. 21, as part of the Laid Back Festival.