Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Jackson Browne's brother was surprisingly goofy. In the early 70's when "Sweet Baby James" was so earnest, and Gilbert O'Sullivan was sullenly suicidal, Severin was singing deliberately dopey tunes like "Cooking School," a loopy love song: "She majored in crepes and in almonds. I studied desserts made with cheese. We fell in love while the class dissected a pea. Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa..."

Browne's two albums were issued on Motown when the label was trying to go in just about the opposite direction from The Four hiring a white goop?

On his second album, the ill folkie offered the repetitve "Do Magnolia Do" and an irritatingly itchy number titled "Tickle My Lips" which gives you some idea of how annoying he could be. But "Cooking School" is intentionally hippie-dippie. Sev spies her at a nude beach. Then "I saw her the next day while streaking a hallway. We went to the same cooking school!" Streaking? Could it get stupider? Yep...

When your parents evidently name you after a bad brand of coffee and spell it wrong (the album jacket on "new and improved" references the idea of a coffee can label) anything's possible.

After "Cooking School" Browne was toast. He sat out the rest of the 70's. Too bad. If "The Pina Colada Song" was a hit for Rupert Holmes, one of Sev's dippy tunes could've been a novelty classic, too. In the past 10 years he's issued two CD's but they aren't humorous or intentionally ill. They sound like what you'd expect of Jackson Browne's brother. "You Can't Fool the Moon" is an example.

Getting even with an ex-lover, Severin ominously sings: "You can't fool the moon. You can't fool the moon! You can't fool the moon. You can't fool the moon! You can't fool the moon. Oh you can't fool the moon. Oh you can't fool the moon. No, you can't fool the moon."

Why? Because you say so eight times in a row?

Jimmy Webb once declared the moon is a harsh mistress, and Severin agrees she's not to be screwed with: "She can see where you live." And? What's she doing to somebody who made the big mistake of not sticking with Severin? Mooning the person?

This pointless lyric reminds me of a line uttered by my late friend Brother Theodore. The noted podiatrist and performance artist once said that "the dog howling at the moon does not bother the moon. It only makes the dog look like a jackass."

Severin circa 1972 was one of those ill folks with a very unique vision. And Lenscrafters can fix that in under an hour.

Your zip file has a song from each of four Severin albums. If you just want to try "Cooking School," it's a quick download or listen on line.

First album: "Darling Christina." Sev proves that like Jackson, James and everybody else, he can write an anthem to some hippie chick he's either fucked or wants to.
Second album: "Love Story." The album was called "New and Improved." But this song is so obvious (a waltzing list of people, each in love with somebody else) it's surprising he had the strength to finish it. Especially when it ends like a cookie commercial: "...he's really in love with Sara Lee, and Sara Lee secretly honestly truly loves me."
Third album: "Edge of the World." Title track. Seriously OK. If he sounds like a more sober Dean Friedman or a speeded up Billy Joel, that's not so bad.
Fourth album: "You Can't Fool The Moon," although you can play golf on it.

Four Samples from the Four Albums

Cooking least it beats Emeril La Gassy Instant download or listen on line. No porn ads or pop ups.


nomwl1 said...

It must be me, but if I didn't pay attention, I'd almost miss how weird these are. But I like songs where I learn something. I think I've learned that you can't fool the moon, but I'm not sure.

dustbuster said...

wow, I've never heard of him OR his albums, tho I DO recall albums by Chris Jagger, Mike McGear (McCartney's brother), Simon Townshend, as well as James Taylor's siblings Livingston, Jake & 'Sister Kate'. thanks (or should I say no thanks) for sharing this info.

Ill Folks said...

Yes, lots a brother and sister acts out there.
Remember Leah Kunkel, sister to Mama Cass, and the Taylor clan also included Alex.

And now folks, "SON of...." featuring Jordan Zevon, Sean Lennon and Baxter Dury...

Anonymous said...

'Just saw the aforementioned Severin at a totally folky show in Santa Clara, CA last nite. OMG - 'goofy' yes, but so? The two other opening acts were much more interesting. 'Have to admit to never hearing much of him b-4 last nite, and was nearly certain he couldn't be Jackson's bro', since even Liv', James, and Ben Taylor sound a 'little' bit alike! Severin's show, with an audience of 15 aging hippies, reminded me of stale cotton-candy. Sad...

Anonymous said...

Definitely a Severin Browne fan -- was listening to him the other night. I have had Cooking School stuck in my head for days. It's actually, "she majored in crepes and omelettes" (not crepes and in almonds). Couldn't resist.

Ill Folks said...

Oh I consider "goofy" a compliment. I'm not such a big fan of Jackson the "perfect." (To use a Zevon description).

Thanks for "omelettes." Is that me or the muddy pressing of the album!? Of COURSE "omelettes" makes more sense. (How gauche of me.)