Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jackson Browne on Colbert: transcript

Wow! Quite the night for noteworthy television. Countdown's coverage of George F. Will's repudiation of McCain was excellent, Jon Stewart interviewed Bill Clinton on The Daily Show [transcript and embedded video], and Stephen Colbert interviewed singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, whose song "Running on Empty" was used in an attack ad by John McCain against Barack Obama, leading Browne to sue. It is the last of those that gets tonight's transcript slot.

Jackson Browne on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, Tuesday, September 23, 2008, ©2008 Comedy Central.


Stephen Colbert: A huge longtime fan, which makes it even harder to do what I have to do right now, which is tear you a new one, my friend. Now, you're suing John McCain, because he used "Running on Empty"? Tell me about it.

Jackson Browne: Yeah, well, he used my song in an attack ad, attacking Barack Obama, and he didn't —

Colbert: So??

Browne: — ask for it, nor would he have been given permission. He didn't get permission, he didn't pay for it.

Colbert: How do deny John McCain anything? Need I remind you who else denied him their song rights? The Việt Cộng! [laughter] The man gets anything he wants now.

Browne: Evidently.

Colbert: Yeah, evidently he does. So, what's your problem with McCain? You've got a few differences of opinion, I'm guessing. What are your concerns that he doesn't share?

Browne: Well, uh, besides copyright, besides honoring artists' rights to their property —

Colbert: Oh, it's "free" everything, "Free Love!", "Free Speech!" — but not free songs.

Browne: That's right.

Colbert: That's right. That's very selective with your freedom there, Jack!


Browne: Well, you know, I'm also pretty tight with my endorsements. I don't endorse anybody who comes along.

Colbert: You didn't endorse me when I ran for President, and I didn't even use one of your songs. I used Devo's "Whip It!" — and I got some trouble for that. Yeah, they were pretty mad at me, but I think it was a perfectly valid use for the song, because, you know, as the lyric says, "when a problem comes along, you must whip it!"

Browne: Yeah, one of the great rock lyrics of all time.

Colbert: So, you're no fan of nuclear energy, are you?

Browne: No.

Colbert: What are your problems with nuclear energy, other than the fact that there might be an accident or a meltdown or fallout from a terrorist attack? Other than those three, 'cause I've named them —

Browne: Other than that, it can't pay for itself. It needs government subsidies, which basically will result in a sort of socialized corporatism that the American people would pay for and Wall Street would profit from

Colbert: They're getting used to paying for things that Wall Street profits from.

Browne: Exactly.

Colbert: So I think it might be easier in the future, to sell that idea.

Browne: The problem is, they still don't know what to do with all the waste. They act as if, "Oh, we're gonna work that out in the next little while," but it's been 50, 60 years now —

Colbert: Why don't we just spread the waste evenly from state to state? Or do you have something against mutants now?

Browne: Exactly.

Colbert: "Everybody should be accepted, except people with psychic power"?

Browne: That's it, that's it.

Colbert: You have a new album called Time the Conqueror.

Browne: Yes.

Colbert: Is it safe to assume that that is about a time-traveling conquistador?

Browne: Sort of, yeah, no, it's about that time is the one thing that will conquer all of us, and conquer —

Colbert: That's why we should stay in Iraq for 100 years, because that's the best way to conquer it, just throw as much time at it as we possibly can.

Browne: That's the other thing I really differ with McCain on, you know. He should not — we should be out of Iraq as fast as we can. We should be leaving —

Colbert: Whose side are you on in this war??

Browne: That's a very good question. I asked that —

Colbert: It's an excellent question.

Browne: I asked that question in my new album. I asked that question in "Drums of War," that's right: Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy?

Colbert: The "Blame America First" crowd.

Browne: No, who — [laughter] — no, no: who is the enemy who's trying to crush us? Who's the enemy of peace and justice? Who's the enemy of truth and freedom? Where are the courts when we need them? Why is impeachment "off the table"?

Colbert: Oh, just because it rhymes doesn't make it true, Jackson! It's not fair! I don't have a rhyming dictionary back here!

Browne: We'd better stop them, while we are able.

Colbert: Will you come back, and rhyme with a guitar?

Browne: Sure. Sure.

Colbert: Thank you, Jackson. Jackson Browne — he'll be right back.

[commercial break]

Jackson Browne then performed his song "Going Down to Cuba," available on iTunes.

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Embedded video and transcript of Jackson Browne on The Colbert Report, below the fold....