Boulevard

Album: Hold Out (1980)
Charted: 19
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Songfacts®:

  • One of Jackson Browne's most radio-friendly and enlivened songs, "Boulevard" takes on a serious topic: teenage runaways.

    The Boulevard in question is Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, where many young people go to make it big in the world of entertainment. Unfortunately, most of them fail and some end up hustling on the street.

    Browne lived in the area and wrote the song from the perspective of these young people. It's very empathetic, acknowledging the brutal life they lead but letting them know it's just a period in time and it doesn't define who they are.
  • Browne mention a notorious Hollywood Boulevard hangout in the lines:

    Down at the Golden Cup
    They set the young ones up


    The Gold Cup was a restaurant where young male runaways would hang out. It was part of a section known as "the meat rack" where lots of illegal activity and exploitation would take place.
  • "Boulevard" was the lead single from Hold Out. It's Jackson Browne's only US #1 album, but that's because it was eagerly anticipated, coming three years after his biggest seller: Running On Empty. He spent much of 1979 working with Musicians United For Safe Energy (MUSE), which did a series of concerts advocating to restrict nuclear power. He co-produced an album from these concerts called No Nukes, which features Bonnie Raitt, The Doobie Brothers, Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor.
  • Browne produced the album with Greg Ladanyi, who also worked with Don Henley and Browne's good buddy Warren Zevon around this time. They used some of the top session musicians in the area, including Craig Doerge on keyboards, Bob Glaub on bass, and Russ Kunkel on drums.

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