May 26, 2013

Inspirations: Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones
I so clearly remember lying on my parent's bed glued to the '79 Grammy awards waiting for "best new artist". After months of "Chuck E's in Love" addiction, I was totally obsessed with the brazenly real, groundbreaking voice of nominee - Rickie Lee Jones.

I was watching a formative visual moment:
George Burns and Deborah Harry (Yes! BLONDIE) announced. After beating out The Blues Brothers, Dire Straits, Robin Williams (???), and The Knack, she made her way to the stage.... And then it got a bit weird.

As she swayed oddly and smiled eerily for an uncomfortably long several seconds, the sick underbelly of 70's cool crept in. It was the young addict, too high to fake it - the Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison brand of scary, which naturally fascinated and frightened the 13 year old me.

Luckily, she suddenly snapped into focus and gave a quick, frankly humorous thanks. Her raspy badass street voice made her long blond hair, black beret, tight cropped jeans, and little rust leather jacket even cooler. In that moment she was IT - hip, tough, sexy, quirky - the definition of cool - an artist. I was dying of groovy overload as she awkwardly ran off the stage.

Fast forward the years, I'm in the audience watching the seasoned, adult Rickie. The hard knocks diva who drew the map for the Fiona Apple's and Regina Specktor's now speaks of precious time passing. Each song an intricate novel, was punctuated by her singularly innovative, unforgettable voice.

After a long spellbinding performance, she closed with a cover more visceral and damning than the original "Sympathy for the Devil". Without changing a word she chillingly redefined it.

And then, with all the grace and beauty of an angel, she exited the room.


  1. yes I have a comment

    thank you ! thoughtful, worthy of the work I do - and I mean that you have taken the time to be personal and foregiving, to hopefully give and generously receive inspiration and to remind folks that its important to remember, if you know, who cast the thread that many weave their colorful way with. from.
    also I appreciate you writing about the show. !!!

  2. Honered - beyond honored - that you even glanced at this! Your art, visions, sound, stories, and continual original output has been a gift to me. And (to be real) you are eternally groovy as F*#K. A guiding light. Since it's release, all these years, I suddenly find my self singing / humming / thinking "So, Sal, say good-bye to your mom and your dad...." Your work stays inside me and grows with me. It's a gift. I'd be more than honored to give you something from my work. For real.