In many ways, Jackson Browne was the quintessential sensitive Californian singer/songwriter of the early '70s. Only Joni Mitchell and James Taylor ranked alongside him in terms of influence, but neither artist tapped into the post-'60s Zeitgeist like Browne. While the majority of his classic '70s work was unflinchingly personal, it nevertheless provided a touchstone for a generation of maturing baby boomers coming to terms with adulthood. Not only did his introspective, literate lyrics strike a nerve, but his laid-back folk-rock set the template for much of the music to come out of California during the '70s. With his first four albums, Browne built a loyal following that helped him break into the mainstream with 1976's The Pretender. During the late '70s and early '80s, he was at the height of his popularity, as each of his albums charted in the Top Ten. Midway through the '80s, Browne made a series of political protest records that caused his audience to gradually shrink, but when he returned to introspective songwriting with 1993's I'm Alive, he made a modest comeback.