'Saturate' the Market: On Jackson Browne's Debut

Jackson Browne in concert; 'Jackson Browne'
Photo Credit
Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns; Asylum Records

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne kicked off 1972 - and his solo recording career - with an album that has come to be known by the “instructions” which sit at the top of its cover art.

Produced by Richard Sanford Orshoff, Jackson Browne, a.k.a. Saturate Before Using, wasn’t Browne’s first time dipping his toe into the music industry, but it was his first solo album. After finding a bit of success as a songwriter, it was his decision to send a demo of his song “Jamaica Say You Will” to David Geffen at the beginning of 1970 which proved to be the turning point. Geffen made it his mission to find a record deal for Browne, and when no one would take him on, the budding music mogul did the next best thing: he founded his own label – Asylum Records – and signed Browne to a contract.

READ MORE: 'Running on Empty' Shifted Jackson Browne Into High Gear

As far as the title of the LP goes, Browne spoke about the matter in a 2002 conversation with album designer Gary Burden for his DVD release, Under the Covers.

"I remember being on the phone with Gary... talking about what the album cover should be, and I happened to be in a room that had a water bag on the wall,” said Browne. “It was just one of the things that I collected driving around on trips and stuff. And I was looking at this bag as he was saying, ‘What do you think it ought to be?' I was thinking, 'Well, it could be a water bag.' ... it said 'saturate before using' on the front ... 'You know, Gary, on mine, it says this on the back.' And you said, well, so?' And 'if you put it on the front, people are going to think that's the title.' And you said, 'Don't be ridiculous. Who would think that was the title?' I said, 'Yeah, you're right.' So not only does everyone think that's the title of that album, but my record company thinks that's the title of the album!”

Fortunately, it’s less the album’s title that matters than the songs contained therein, including the iconic “Doctor My Eyes,” which hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the album’s second single, “Rock Me on the Water,” which made it to #48.

READ MORE: June 1972: the Eagles (and Jackson Browne) "Take It Easy"

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