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Jackson Browne talks about Haiti benefit album with The Independent

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Jackson Browne: ‘My generation were idealistic and naive but we were right about so many things'

The singer-songwriter talks to Kevin E G Perry about his benefit album for Haiti, the calamitous state of the planet, Donald Trump's ‘wild lies', his fears about the election, and getting old.

The morning after our interview I get a call from Jackson Browne. I stare at my phone in bleary-eyed confusion, trying to remember if one of the all-time great singer-songwriters had let slip anything scandalous he might be eager to recant, but when I pick up I hear his warm Californian tones overflowing with enthusiasm. "I just realised I didn't finish telling you about Rick!"

Rick appears in the third verse of Browne's song "Love Is Love", the lead single from a new benefit album, Let the Rhythm Lead, which he recorded in Haiti along with a group of fellow musicians to support the charity Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ). Browne has been passionate about their work since playing a benefit concert after the devastating 2010 earthquake, and was impressed by APJ's ability to swiftly build a school in Port-au-Prince that now provides free education to 2,600 of the most impoverished children in the western hemisphere. Moved by the stories he heard from Haiti, Browne wrote "Standing in the Breach", the title track of his 2014 album about the disaster and the long history of colonialism and slavery that preceded it. "It's a difficult subject, so it took me a long time to finish that song," he says. "I think it took me longer to write than it took them to build the school."

It was only when he arrived in Haiti to visit the school that APJ built that Browne learned they'd also constructed an artist's institute in the south coast town of Jacmel, where young people were learning to become sound engineers in a modern studio. "When I saw it I thought, well, people from outside of Haiti should come here and work," he says. "So I asked some people if they wanted to come."   PHOTO: ( Rex )