Fountain of Sorrow

Album: Late For The Sky (1974)


  • The second single from Jackson Browne's third album, "Fountain of Sorrow" wasn't a hit, but is a fan favorite and a very important song for the singer. "This talks about disappointment, but in a forgiving way," he explained to Mojo. "It acknowledges that people are always looking for something in each other that they may not find, and says that not only is that OK, but what's more enduring is the goodwill and acceptance of each others' right to be on this search and to make your own choices, and that one's longing or sorrow is part of your own search, not a byproduct of somebody else's."

Comments: 3

  • Mrmeaning from Leicester, UkIn his introduction to a 2014 live performance of 'Fountain of Sorrow', Browne explained that he wrote it for an ex-lover. He’d run into her some time after they separated, was impressed by her beauty, remembered ‘all the good stuff’, and wrote the song for her. His introduction concluded: ‘But as time went on, as years went on, it turned out to be a more generous song than she deserved‘. The audience’s knowing and sympathetic laughter showed they got Browne’s dry reference to Joni Mitchell and her vengeful song, 'Not to Blame'. Pressed about that introduction in an interview, Browne said: ‘The things that come to bear in that song are the healing and acceptance of each other’s differences. That’s what I meant by it being more generous than she deserved.’ In the same interview Browne was asked about the meaning of these lines: 'When you see through love’s illusion there lies the danger, and your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool'. He replied, gnomically: ‘It’s about the fact that when you fall in love with someone, when you’re brokenhearted, you don’t see them as a person.’ (See my blogpost,
  • Eddie from Braselton, GeorgiaFrom his masterpiece album, "Late For The Sky". In my experience, albums you instantly like quickly become throwaways. But difficult music grows with repeated listenings. Throw in meaningful lyrics that resonate, and you've really got something. My first few times through, the songs all seemed the same to me (ha!) and now I can only say, "What was I thinking?!"

    When I finally grasped all of 'Fountain Of Sorrow', I was hit with a gut punch. The image of someone in a surprised photograph smiling until they notice that it was a former lover and not who they thought it was originally. They don't want to hurt your feelings, but....."just a trace of sorrow in their eyes." I've been there. It hurts. But I'll keep the photo.
  • Bobbymcgee from SyracuseThis song is a reflection of the dalliance he had with Joni Mitchell. A great bridge in the song and really perfectly crafted piano.
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