The Load-Out

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"The Load-Out"
The Load-Out Side-B Jackson Browne.jpg
Side-B label of the 1978 commercial single, "Stay"
Song by Jackson Browne
from the album Running on Empty
A-side "Stay"
Released December 1977
Format 7"; 12" promotional single
Recorded Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland
August 27, 1977
Length 5:38 album version, 8:51 DJ promo version in medley with "Stay"
Label Asylum/Elektra
Songwriter(s) Jackson Browne
Bryan Garofalo
Producer(s) Jackson Browne
Running on Empty track listing
"Nothing but Time"
"The Load-Out"

"The Load-Out" is a song co-written and performed live by Jackson Browne from his 1977 album Running on Empty. It is a tribute to his roadies and fans. The song was recorded live at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland on August 27, 1977, as part of the tour in support of the album The Pretender.


"The Load-Out" describes the daily practices of a band and its road crew on a concert tour, and the emotions evoked throughout such an endeavor. The first three verses of the song consist of Browne singing and playing piano with David Lindley playing steel guitar. They are later joined by a synthesizer, followed by the rest of the band. Eventually "The Load-Out" segues into an interpretation of Maurice Williams' 1960 hit "Stay," sung by Browne, Rosemary Butler, and Lindley.[1] It is Lindley who sings the falsetto.

Many radio stations played "The Load-Out" and "Stay" together as a medley, and, although it wasn't released as a single to the public initially ("Rosie" was the original B-side to "Stay"), "The Load-Out" charted as a tag-along to "Stay" on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts, based on airplay. "Stay" debuted on the Hot 100 on June 10, 1978 as a sole A-side, but was listed along with "The Load-Out" on the chart beginning with the August 5, 1978 chart for eight weeks, both showing a peak at #20. "Stay" stayed on the Hot 100 for a total of fifteen weeks.[2][3][4][5]


In his March 9, 1978, Rolling Stone review of the Running on Empty album, Paul Nelson discussed the song in the context of the album's "consciously created documentary," and reviewed the song's significance placed as its finale. The "Load-Out/Stay" medley, he claimed, was "worthy of such earlier" Browne album-closing "anthems as 'For Everyman,' 'Before the Deluge' and 'The Pretender.' 'The Load-Out' is Jackson Browne's tribute to and summation of every aspect of live performance: the cheering audience out front, the band playing hard-nosed rock & roll, the backstage crew loading up the trucks—and, always, the road to the next town. Packed to capacity with the data of first-rate reporting and with music so warm and soaring it belies the album's title, this song flows triumphantly into 'Stay,' where Browne tells us he doesn't ever want it to end."[6]

In an essay for the 2005 Rhino Records reissue of the album, critic Anthony DeCurtis wrote that one of the major themes of the album is how "the joy of performing before an audience lends a purpose to everything that happens - the good and the bad - behind the scene." That theme, he wrote, is expressed "eloquently in the easy rolling transition from the wistful regret of "The Load-Out" to the smile-inducing high jinks of "Stay."[7]

In 1981, Austrian singer-songwriter Georg Danzer recorded a German cover version of this song titled Roadie-Lied.

The final episode of the 2016 television series Roadies was named after the song, and featured a live performance of it by Browne.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 20


  1. ^ "The Load-Out/Stay" BBC Live in London, 1978. (with subtitles) on YouTube. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  2. ^ Paris, Russ. Jackson Browne Fan Page Discography Accessed July 9, 2012.
  3. ^ Top 40 Music On Accessed July 9, 2012.
  4. ^ Jackson Browne Chart History. Billboard
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel. Billboard Hot 100 Charts - The Seventies. Wisconsin: Record Research, 1990.
  6. ^ Nelson, Paul. Running on Empty Rolling Stone, March 9, 1978. Accessed July 9, 2012.
  7. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony. "Making the Road His Own: Jackson Browne's Running On Empty" Running on Empty Elektra/Rhino remastered edition, 2005.