Rickie Lee Jones: On Saturday afternoons in 1963

8 Nov

Rickie Lee Jones album The Evening of My Best Day

Rickie Lee Jones' 2003 album The Evening of My Best Day

Birthday greetings to singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones, who celebrates No. 57 today.

She’s more than three decades past Chuck E.’s In Love, but no less cool than when she posed for that first album cover, beret on tilted head, mini-cigar in mouth, a few strands of hair falling over her eye. And though Chuck E. might not have really been in love with the little girl singing this song, a lot of album-buyers were. Including this one.

(According to wikipedia, in real life Chuck E. wasn’t in love with Rickie Lee, who added that line to the end of the song. Literary license).

Over the years she’s been compared to various artists, but none fit. Only Rickie Lee could make music sound like a poetry reading (or vice versa), only Rickie Lee could make one note sound so soft and the next so sultry, only Rickie Lee could make you cry to Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying. If On The Road was a generation later, Kerouac would have been writing paens to Rickie Lee Jones.

“She’s got a smoky saxophone voice, and she also sounds like a little girl, and she’s dealing with very dark things. I find it an irresistible combination,” Emilylou Harris told the New York Times in 2008.

(On a personal note, I bought a CD player a decade after mostly everyone else only because I couldn’t get Jones’ 1993 album Traffic From Paradise on vinyl; I spent $10 on the CD and $150 on the player, and still consider the $10 the money better spent. Rickie Lee’s Stewart’s Coat, off that same album, was one of two songs that was part of my wedding; by the time she got to Just give me many chances, I’ll see you through it all, Just give me time to learn to crawl, the groom’s eyes were moist).

Her life in song and out is well-chronicled — from running away from home to Chuck E. Weiss to Tom Waits to the substance abuse to motherhood to today. Here’s hoping she remembers the words she penned  so long ago for that very first album’s On Saturday Afternoons in 1963 (link below):

So hold on to your special friend
Here, you’ll need something to keep her in:
“Now you stay inside this foolish grin . . .”
Though any day your secrets end
Then again
Years may go by

Sources: rickieleejones.com, nytimes.com, vanityfair.com, wikipedia.org

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