Hold Out

Album: Hold Out (1980)
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Songfacts®:

  • In "Hold Out," Jackson Browne takes a good look at his station in life, which can be summed up in these lines:

    It seems I've traded love for glory
    But I'm still not satisfied


    He is the "hold out" in the song, facing a dim future if he stays the course:

    It's starting to be cold out
    For people who live like me


    "'Hold Out,' was a parting with the person inside me who was idealistic but kept saying: Listen, I really don't believe that strongly anymore," Browne told Rolling Stone.
  • Browne started writing this song around 1975 but didn't release it until 1980 as the title track to his Hold Out album. A lot had changed by then, but it made sense for him to include the song on the album because it was part of his personal journey that he sings about as the album progresses.

    When he started making the album, he was in a long-term relationship with Lynne Sweeney, an Australian model he met in 1977. They were at a nexus, with Browne trying to figure out if they should get married, or if he's still a hold out. [Browne got married to Phyllis Major, the mother of his son Ethan, at the end of 1975. She died by suicide a few months later in 1976.]

    The last song on the album, "Hold On Hold Out," brings it into focus. On that track, Browne takes the plunge, professing his love for Sweeney. They did indeed get married, tying the knot in 1981, but they split two years later.
  • Browne earned a battalion new fans with his album Running On Empty, released at the end of 1977. Singles from the album - the title track and "Stay" - were on the radio throughout 1978, but 1979 Browne got occupied with other projects (notably MUSE: Musicians United For Safe Energy) and his next album, Hold Out, wasn't released until the summer of 1980. This created a lot of anticipation for the album, which went to #1 upon release but sold considerably less than its predecessor. The only enduring hit from the album is "Boulevard," although many of Browne's fans consider it one of his best.

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