The Jackson Browne-Steven Van Zandt connection

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne, left, and Steven Van Zandt performed together at a Vote for Change show at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford in 2004.

Jackson Browne once said that Steven Van Zandt’s 1984 Voice of America album was a “huge influence” on him, inspiring him to become more political in his songwriting. And he covered that album’s “I Am a Patriot” on his own 1989 album, World in Motion, and has performed it frequently at concerts, over the years.

Browne and Van Zandt also have performed together many times. Look below for a video of them duetting on “I Am a Patriot.”

This is all worth mentioning because they are both participating in the Laid Back Festival show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, Sept. 21. Browne will headline, after a set by Van Zandt and his Disciples of Soul band. (It has not been announced if they will do one or more songs together, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone.)

Peter Wolf and Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, led by Allman Brothers Band drummer Jaimoe, will also perform. The festival was co-founded by the late Gregg Allman, and is being presented “in his spirit,” according to its web site.

Browne sang on “Sun City,” the 1985 anti-Apartheid protest single that Van Zandt wrote and produced. And Browne and Van Zandt both performed at the Conspiracy of Hope benefit concert for Amnesty International at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, in 1986.

According to brucebase.wikispaces.com, Browne has performed with Bruce Springsteen (and sometimes the E Street Band, too) 28 times. Van Zandt was involved with some but not all of those events. But Van Zandt was certainly in the band when Browne performed with them at concerts such as the “No Nukes” benefits at Madison Square Garden in 1979; the Vote for Change show at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford in 2004; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden in 2009.

Browne has a long and unique relationship with the E Street Band. He first saw Springsteen perform at The Bitter End in New York, and they first shared a bill in 1973, at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He and Clarence Clemons recorded a hit single together, “You’re a Friend of Mine,” in 1985. When Browne was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, Springsteen made the induction speech; and when Rolling Stone did an issue on the 100 greatest artists of all time, Browne wrote the Springsteen essay.

For information on the Laid Back Festival, visit laidbackfestival.com

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