Jackson Browne: Talking With the Great Pretender

For our fortieth anniversary, the editors of Rolling Stone have interviewed twenty artists and leaders who helped shape our time. Over the next four weeks, every day, we'll be debuting exclusive audio clips from the Q&As, giving you unparalleled access to some of the most important personalities in history.

Today, we present introspective singer-songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jackson Browne. As if bedding both Nico and Daryl Hannah wasn't accomplishment enough, three of Browne's albums found their way onto Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time. Plus, he's written songs for the Eagles, guest-voiced on The Simpsons and blazed the party trail with John Kerry and Ralph Nader. In his interview with Anthony DeCurtis, Browne discusses politics, Bob Dylan, the current lack of Leonard Cohens and this recurring dream he's been having...

• Browne, one of the most consistently political artists of our time, discusses the responsibilities of a songwriter to his art and to his children: "People know more about baseball players' contracts than they do about the policies that govern the fate of our children's lives in twenty years. Think about it. People used to say, the whole time I was growing up, do you want to bring a child into this world? That's pretty dire."

• Every singer-songwriter is infatuated with Bob Dylan, but Browne really loves Bob's DJ skills: "He's a sage. He's an elder. He's hilarious. His tone, his every aspect of what he's doing is whimsical and funny as well as at times he'll bring your attention around in a serious way, if you're serious enough to get it."

• Apparently, Browne shares a subconscious with Jimmy Buffett, as he talks about the concert venue of his dreams: "If someone said, 'You can go live in this little town in Costa Rica for a couple of weeks and all you've got to do is sing for us,' I would do that. That's more exciting to me than the prospect of going on some national tour, where you're going to play arenas or sheds every night, because of the crushing repetition of that kind of line."

• Jackson Browne mourns the fact that this generation lacks a great singer-songwriter (Sorry, Sufjan and Bright Eyes): "Sometimes I walk around thinking, 'Where's the next crop of brilliant writers? Where's the Leonard Cohen or the Warren Zevon when people don't really get played.' There isn't that engine of getting played on the radio. The ladder got dismantled."

Check back tomorrow for the next installment of our twenty-part audio interviews, featuring the most iconic pop culture figures of the last 40 years. Want a sneak peak at tomorrow's interviewee? Take a guess at who told us this:
"For the first time in our history, we've had this wall-to-wall ideological right wing press, not only the Fox News, talk radio, the Weekly Standard, that not only mongered for war along with the administration, not only embraced the administration's policies because they were, quote, conservative, including going to war -- but also, mounted a slime machine to discredit any journalist who dared to stand against the official view of reality..."