Hold On Hold Out

Album: Hold Out (1980)
Charted: 103
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Songfacts®:

  • The second track on Jackson Browne's Hold Out album is the title track, where he takes a hard look at the sacrifices he's made and realizes it's been ruinous for his love life. In that song, he's the "hold out," paying the price for a life dedicated to music.

    Browne started writing that song in 1975 when he was at a crossroads with his girlfriend Phyllis Major; he married her later that year but a few months later she died by suicide.

    In 1980 when he was working on the Hold Out album, Browne was once again in a committed relationship, this time with Lynne Sweeney, an Australian model he met when he was touring that country in 1977. He wrote "Hold On Hold Out" as an update to "Hold Out," addressing both himself and Sweeney. It's the last song on the album, ending with an affirmation that he's in love with her. The couple got married a year later but it didn't work out; they divorced in 1983.
  • Toward the end of this song, Browne switches to a speaking voice and says:

    You're a hold out
    Well I'm a hold out too
    But it took me all this time to figure out
    Something you already knew


    "My willingness to love again was what I was talking about," he explained in an interview with Rolling Stone. "At the end of 'Hold On Hold Out,' there's a reuniting between both Lynne and the idealistic part of myself. Well, I was speaking not only to myself but to that idealistic person who exists in me, in Lynne and in a lot of other people. I was talking to anyone who believes that the planet is going to survive and that the race will quite likely go on for several thousand years and fulfill a destiny. And the spoken section at the end of the song sort of neatly ties up the album."
  • Browne wrote this song with Craig Doerge, who played keyboards on this track and others from the album. Other musicians on the track include David Lindley on guitar, Bob Glaub on bass, and Russ Kunkel on drums.
  • Jackson Browne didn't put "I love you" into his songs to avoid being cliché, but he couldn't help it here. In the first run-through of his vocal, when he was doing the spoken part he said:

    I guess you wouldn't know unless I told you
    But...
    I love you


    He felt it was sincere moment that needed to stay in the song, and when he tried to re-record it, there was no doubt the first take was the winner.
  • The song runs 8:08, but Browne released it as a single anyway. A traditional 7-inch single couldn't hold this much music, so it was issued as a 12-inch single, a format traditionally used for dance mixes, with "Hold Out" as the B-side. It charted at #103 in the US.

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