Lawyers In Love
Today we’re listening to “Lawyers In Love” by Jackson Browne
Fast Times At Ridgemont High might be one of my all-time favorite movies.
It's well-written, the characters are hilarious (and just relatable enough), and it's infinitely quotable. And the music is fantastic. Many people never heard "Moving In Stereo" the same way again because of that scene. No less than 3 of the Eagles had their own songs (Henley, Walsh, Schmit). Oingo Boling and The Go-Gos were at the party as well.
But so was Jackson Browne with his "Somebody's Baby." A track made of the era and his biggest hit to date. It also marked an inflection point for Browne as his music afterward switched to more contemporary/political in nature.
Out: Themes like longing.
In: Social concerns & issues of the day.
"Lawyers In Love" is a scathing take on life in 1983 (read: sketchy). By his usual heartful standard, it's also kind of silly.
God sends his spaceships to America, the beautiful
They land at six o'clock, and there we are, the dutiful
Eating from TV trays, tuned into happy days
Waiting for world war three while Jesus slaves
Browne sang, "I can't keep up with what's going down." Neither could anyone else.
The record itself marked a pivot as well. Browne’s 7th record was the first since his debut without guitarist David Lindley. Instead, Rick Zito took his place. You may remember Zito being one half of Fleetwood Mac's "Coy and Vance" era along with Billy Burnette.
At any rate, the single saw decent success, peaking at #13 on Billboard's Hot 100. It was also Browne's last song to chart. The record itself was met with mixed views. Resident curmudgeon Robert Christgau called the title track A satire on, celebration of, and lament for the upper-middle classmates an Orange County liberal knows like he knows his neighbor's backyard; the title song is a coup: poignant, droll, political about his own experience rather than some victim's, and gave the record a C+.
That's fair. The record itself is…okay. Browne was making a statement record reflecting what was important to him at the time, but much of it gets lost in translation. That said, the title track is my favorite (“Tender Is the Night” is a close second) and doesn't deserve to be caught in the crossfire.
There are certainly elements of satire, but it's not a novelty song. Like Fast Times, “Lawyers in Love” is a touchstone for the time it was made in; an era where the US was awash in the fever dream of Reaganomics, the specter of nuclear war, and shining cities on a hill.
But it also feels timeless-like something you might hear when walking into the MI-T-Mart.
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Some perceived the title track – a satire of yuppies in the Reagan era – as a key transition between Browne’s personal music of the ’70s and his more overtly political songs of the late ’80s. Accompanied by a memorable MTV video, the single hit No. 13 on the charts and remains notable for being a humorous standout in Browne’s otherwise earnest catalog.
Read more of the lookback here.
“Lawyers In Love” by Jackson Browne| Lawyers In Love, 1983
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