Jason Robert Brown shares some words of wisdom about love


Bridges of Madison County
Bartlett Sher, Kelli O’Hara, Steven Pasquale, Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown attend the media day preview for “The Bridges of Madison County” at The New 42nd Street Studios on Dec. 16, 2013.
Credit: Walter McBride, Getty Images

Jason Robert Brown rose to acclaim largely thanks to his nuanced and truthful inspections of love between complicated, realistic couples. “The Last Five Years” mourns a marriage gone astray, while some of the medleys from “Songs for a New World” look at what happens to love when it’s compacted into a moment of truth. We spoke to the musician just before the opening of his latest love story, “The Bridges of Madison County,” on Broadway Feb. 20 — and just in time to glean some insights for Valentine’s Day.

You’re known for love songs. Did you always know that’d be your niche?

I don’t know how to answer that! It makes me sound like a Harlequin romance songwriter. I think of my niche as a storyteller. However, I truly am, in spite of my surface cynicism, a deeply romantic individual, which has its benefits and downsides.

Have you always been very passionate about this topic?

I think all songwriters have to wrestle with affairs of the heart in their writing – love has music attached to it, and I think music has love attached to it. My interactions with the other people in the world, both the ones I work with and the ones I live with, all depend on music and love co-existing and cooperating. I’m sure I have some pretty deep-set convictions about the way love works and the way the world works with it, but I try to explore all the angles.

You’re known for showing the very honest, complex aspects of love — not romanticizing. Do we need to just accept the messy parts?

Love without messy parts is not any kind of love I would recognize.  And I think the same thing about music.

Is sadness, to some degree, necessary to any true love?

That’s the thing, love is the whole spectrum, and if you miss out on any of it – the sadness, the joy, the thrill, the frustration – you aren’t experiencing love on its deepest level. At least I think so.

What’s the best part of the whole thing? Falling into it, maturing over time?

The best part is being able to trust it, being able to know it’s there and it’s not going anywhere.

What’s worse, trying to find love or falling out of it?

Both sound exhausting to me.
Does a lot of your insight come from personal experience?

My only insight comes from personal experience. I try always to write from a place of emotional truth. Even if I’ve only had a glancing acquaintance with one facet of an emotion, that glance is enough for me to work with.

Has that changed over the years, with getting married? (Is that different from what you thought of love when you were single and dating?)

I was always commitment-happy: I’m that guy who wants to propose on the first date. (I have generally restrained myself.) I’ve always thought love was, essentially, about commitment — the deeper the commitment, the deeper the love. I don’t know that I could have articulated that when I was 22, but it’s pretty much what I think I felt.

What about having two daughters (Molly and Susannah)? Has paternity changed how you write about love?

Being a father is unlike any other love I’ve ever experienced. It is intense and glorious and scary in ways dwarf anything else I’ve ever felt.  I’m not sure I really even know how to write about that yet. I’m still crawling towards that.

What other kinds of love would you like to explore that you haven’t yet?

I would like to explore my love of chocolate ever further, but that doesn’t have to do with writing.

Would you do a gay love story?

Sure! Haven’t found the one I want to write yet, but when I do, it’ll be way hot.

What about something more esoteric, like “Her,” or like a person who loves a lamp (a la “My Strange Addiction,” for example)?

I don’t know that I want to write about non-sentient objects having emotional lives, but live and let live.

What advice would you give lovers this Valentine’s Day?

Go see “The Bridges of Madison County,” obviously! And take three minutes to dance a slow dance with the person you love; it makes all the difference.


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.