Listen: Jackson Browne Creates Epic Love Song From Woody Guthrie's Diary

Stream the radio edit and full-length versions of 'You Know the Night'

August 26, 2011 3:25 PM ET
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Jackson Browne
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Click to listen to Jackson Browne's 'You Know the Night (Edit)'

Click to listen to Jackson Browne's 'You Know the Night (Album Version)'

Jackson Browne and Rob Wasserman are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie's birth by releasing "You Know the Night," a new piece of music based on a 30-page notebook entry penned by the revered songwriter just after meeting the woman who would become his second wife. "There's a great photo of me with like 12 sheets of music taped to two stands and trying to sing this stuff and figure out when to sing, so in a way it was a real editing job," Browne told Rolling Stone. "There wasn't too much you could take out because it's his story."

"You Know the Night" has been edited down to four minutes for radio, but the full performance – and the version that will appear on Notes of Hope, a collection of other musical interpretations of his writing – clocks in at just under 15 minutes. "The four-minute version came out really good but the 15-minute version is, like, impossible to cut down," says Browne. "We took out all the biographical stuff, really. They should be providing everybody with both."

"[Guthrie] used to bully people's spirits," Browne says. "The people he sang for needed that. People he sang for needed to hear that one, they were not alone and two, there’s better times possible down the road. So, this song, the 15-minute version, is infused with that. There is something about him sitting on a park bench and playing with the curls of this beautiful girl's hair and talking about what kind of life they wanted. I think it’s so universal. It’s what people do when they fall in love. It’s gigantic. It’s a love song but at the same time a kind of an idealist trek."

Reporting by Patrick Doyle

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