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It's just that I've been losing so long
May 15, 2012 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I've been out walking. I don't do too much talking these days.

Written by Jackson Browne in the mid-60s when he was 16, the melancholy "These Days" has been recorded by many artists over the years in differing styles.

From the Wikipedia article:

In the mid-to-late 1960s Browne was a precocious songwriter who was pitching his material to various artists and publishing houses. On January 7, 1967 he made some demo recordings for Nina Music Publishing at Jaycino Studio in New York City (an unplanned double album of these recordings was made by Nina Music, with 100 copies issued). Included in these demos, and the third song on this "record," was "I've Been Out Walking," the earliest manifestation of "These Days". Yet the song was even older than that; Browne would later say he wrote it when he was sixteen years old, meaning in 1964 or 1965.

German model and singer Nico was the first to record "These Days" for release, on her October 1967 album Chelsea Girl. The production featured a fairly fast, almost upbeat fingerpicking electric guitar part by Browne (suggested by Andy Warhol), combined with strings and flutes (added after the fact by producer Tom Wilson, without Nico's knowledge).

While Nico never achieved much commercial visibility, her work caught the attention of other musicians and songwriters. And of Browne's catalogue during this period, "These Days," along with his "Shadow Dream Song," were regarded as his gems.
posted by Kelly Tulsa (31 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
I obsessed with Glen Cambell's version about 18 months ago.

posted by splout at 8:25 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Came here for Annie Clark, stayed for Elliot Smith, mind blown by Gregg Allman's. Well done, sir or madam. Well done
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:29 AM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love the 10000 Maniacs version.
posted by Kitteh at 8:30 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the Dirty Projectors' homage to this song, "Two Doves."
posted by hydrophonic at 8:40 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


mind blown by Gregg Allman's

The liner notes on JB's For Everyman album credit Gregg Allman for the arrangement.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:45 AM on May 15, 2012


Wow, thanks splout...Glen Campbell's version is beautiful.
posted by Kelly Tulsa at 8:47 AM on May 15, 2012


I am a huge fan of the above mentioned Dirty Projectors' song, "Two Doves" and had no clue about its musical lineage. I'm really glad that's no longer the case.
posted by cyphill at 8:55 AM on May 15, 2012


And hydrophonic, the Dirty Projector's song is fantastic, thanks.
posted by Kelly Tulsa at 8:59 AM on May 15, 2012


Wow. 1967? I had no idea Chelsea Girl was that old. Mind = boggled.
posted by maryr at 9:07 AM on May 15, 2012


To be honest, and y'all may hate me for it, but I don't care--I can't hear the Nico version without picturing Gwyneth Paltrow walking off a bus.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:08 AM on May 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


I had no idea that the Dirty Projector's song was an homage. I'm not a huge Jackson Browne fan. I like his stuff, but only as far as greatest hits collection depth. "These Days" is his best in that grouping. It hits that perfect worn trail, getting on in life, sweet melancholy feel dead on. Some of the covers are decent, but his is always the better version.


To be honest, and y'all may hate me for it, but I don't care--I can't hear the Nico version without picturing Gwyneth Paltrow walking off a bus .

Second to last link in the post.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:24 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


And thanks, Kelly Tulsa. I actually looked at the liner notes on my Jackson Browne album - that I bought when it was first released. I feel ancient now.

Great links, though.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:29 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well yeah, grimm, but that's because that's all you ever think about these days — Gwyneth Paltrow and buses, buses and Gwyneth Paltrow. You're stuck in a rut, man. What about Scarlett Johansson and inter-city rail? Or coastal ferries and Catherine Keener?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:32 AM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


All my life I had only heard the Nico version... until yesterday when I heard (I believe) the Jackson Browne version playing in a bar. Is there a particular reason the song is making an appearance (ahem) these days? Or just a cosmic coincidence?
posted by jrb223 at 9:36 AM on May 15, 2012


I've always thought it was curious -- now even moreso now that I am approaching 50 -- how much late-life angst and regret the 16-year-old Jackson Browne could summon. But then the 16 year old me seemed to find a lot to identify with in the song too (it was certainly one of my favorites of his when I was a teen playing JB's moody early records late into the night).
posted by aught at 9:51 AM on May 15, 2012


Yay! Now do The Fairest of the Seasons.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:54 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


When Browne's first album came out, I was playing it for a good friend, who is a working musician to this day. A song would come on, and he'd say, "That's the best song I've ever heard." Than another song would come on. "No, THAT'S the best song. . .. " And so on.

I saw him at a guitar shop (McCabes) once, between the release of his first and second albums. (I took classes there and actually performed on that very stage.) As part of his set, he segued from Doctor My Eyes right into this song, which no one had heard. It totally WORKED.

Also, he talked about recording his second album, and how it involved as much deletion as it did actual recording.

Browne is someone I have adulated to the extent that I could not listen to ANY of this stuff anymore. I am just recently checking some of his old stuff (on CD) out of the library and ripping it, and enjoying it.
posted by Danf at 10:01 AM on May 15, 2012


Or coastal ferries and Catherine Keener?

Oh god. Don't get me started.

Second to last link in the post.

aie, the penultimate! i thought i clicked them all ...

posted by mrgrimm at 10:09 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa! Anyone remember AOOA?

So that's where that sample came from. I'd always kind of halfway wondered.
posted by KChasm at 10:14 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, he talked about recording his second album, and how it involved as much deletion as it did actual recording.

I think it was Browne who said debut albums are always the best because you get your whole lifetime to write the first one, and just a year to write the second one.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:17 AM on May 15, 2012


One of the best songs ever.
posted by defenestration at 10:21 AM on May 15, 2012


Some people dismiss Chelsea Girl as Nico's oddball folksy early misstep leading up to her culturally-approved masterpiece The Marble Index, but I think it has a plangent melancholy that's missing from her more intense later work.

I also think this faltering, half-forgotten version from Lou Reed and Nico's 1971 meeting, is, in its own way, even better. A mere four years later, Nico already sounds a thousand miles away from the original song, which makes it feel even more true.
posted by mykescipark at 10:55 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it was Browne who said debut albums are always the best because you get your whole lifetime to write the first one, and just a year to write the second one.

I think For Everyman (on which "These Days" appears) is vastly superior to his debut, but maybe that's just me. It has such a great California folk-rock sound, where the first one was maybe a little too mopey.
posted by Clustercuss at 11:07 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This song always blows me away...I often find myself humming or singing it. Sometimes someone hears me and sing along...those are beautiful days.
posted by schyler523 at 11:52 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to see Jon Brion play a month ago here in Los Angeles, and his special guest was Jackson Browne. Anyone who has seen Brion's show at the Largo knows he opens it up for the audience to just shout any song (any. song.) they want to hear. Someone shouted "These Days," and Jackson and Jon played just about the most beautiful version I'd ever heard. I'm going to admit that I didn't know he had written it, but once you heard him play it, you knew.

Other highlights from the evening including a wonderful cover of Warren Zevon's "Don't Let Us Get Sick," as well as a few really fun Randy Newman covers. The evening was fantastic. If you're in Los Angeles, make sure to go if there's a show.
posted by RubixsQube at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2012


I've always been partial to Phantom/Ghost's cover - something about how the word "failures" is pronounced "failers" makes it weirdly affecting. A German accent suits the song.
posted by with hidden noise at 1:13 PM on May 15, 2012


For me, Jackson Browne and David Lindley have been a dream partnership.

And David Lindley's work on this song is what prompted me to buy a lap steel... a Rickenbacher B6, which is just about the coolest electric guitar ever.

I saw the two of them (Browne and Lindley) in London last year, and it was just perfect.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 6:44 PM on May 15, 2012


I think the Tom Rush version really has a sense of resignation that makes the whole song that much sadder. I really like the Gregg Allman and 10KM versions as well. Thanks for sharing.
posted by 6and12 at 8:01 PM on May 15, 2012


I was going to congratulate you on this awesome post, but then I realized you left out Paul Westerberg's version, and so instead I must inform you that we are now enemies.
posted by Rangeboy at 8:03 PM on May 15, 2012


Uh oh.
posted by Kelly Tulsa at 7:40 AM on May 16, 2012


In Tenebaums, the start of this song is one of my favorite moments in movies.
posted by rhizome at 11:08 AM on May 16, 2012


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