You really have to hand it to folk-rocker Jackson Browne. Not only is he politically aware — he appears in this weekend’s anti-nuclear Musicians United for Safe Energy benefit at Shoreline — but he’s pop-culturally hip, too. Chuckling, he cites Mike Judge’s eerily prescient film “Idiocracy” as a great societal barometer, as well as a recent “Simpsons” episode where Mr. Burns lures Homer back to work with the promise of rare doughnuts. “‘The Simpsons” does a very valuable job, which is to make satire out of everything,” he says. “It’s no accident that Homer works at a nuclear power plant. Because man’s stupidity is endless, and so are the jokes!”
You actually made a killer “Simpsons” cameo, serenading Marge at a party, right? Yeah. The script changed a couple of times — originally Marge went, “Ooh! It’s the Pretender!” when I was introduced. But instead, she said, “My third-favorite political activist!” — so they were riffing on that from the beginning. So then I said, “I’m here to play for you, Marge,” and everybody at the party goes “Yeah!” And I go, “Here’s one of my new songs,” and they moaned “Awww.” But then I said, “Just kidding! This is one of my classics,” and it was something Homer had re-written, “Rosie,” sung to “Margie.” So you do have to have a sense of humor about these things. …
You were part of the original “No Nukes” concert-film-album back in 1980. How far have we come since then? When we started doing these No Nukes concerts in the early ’70s, we thought we’d driven a stake through the nuclear industry’s heart, and that the downsides of that way of making electricity would be obvious to all. But finally, Germany’s divesting itself of nuclear power, and so is Japan.
But the alternatives are out there, right? You can solarize your house, save all kinds of money. But the reason that’s not a powerful business model is because we’re stricken with the idea that something has to be making scads of money and selling shares on the market, when, in fact, the opposite is true — the solar business is a little-guy business, but it’s something everyone can do for themselves.
But don’t big oil and big coal have a stranglehold on everything else? And the same conglomerates own the media, so that’s why the dialogue is so confined. So I take it as a matter of personal conviction and valor to go below that flow of information and do things that make a difference. I drive a Volt, for instance, and in 2,000 miles I’ve used only four gallons of gas. So why doesn’t everybody drive a Volt? Because they’re trying to sell you a Tundra or an Escalade.
IF YOU GO
Musicians United for Safe Energy
With Jackson Browne; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Bonnie Raitt; The Doobie Brothers and others
Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $24.50 to $116.30
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.livenation.com