Rickie Lee Jones – Going Against The Norm!

Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love 

Rickie Lee Jones wrote this song in the late 1970s, it’s a real song about someone she knew. The song gods were good to her back in the day because when Warner Bros, releases her debut album. Rickie Lee Jones”, and the spirited hit single, ” Chuck E.’s in Love.” At the time, making her one of the top-selling female vocalists in the nation.

Rickie Lee Jones became a smash both commercially and critically, earning praise for her unique vocals, wordplay, and her unique fusion of different genres. Also, the story goes that the first time she played and sang this song, was on the sidewalk, in front of a bar for the guy and girl she wrote it about.  

Surviving the music world

Like your typical rock story, Jones has had her ups & downs when it comes to her music career. The same goes for her personal career. This daring rock icon loves to live her life on her own terms. Sure, sometimes it’s teetering on the edge.  But when it comes to her live performances and her albums, this storyteller takes you on a journey to places unknown and leaves you wanting more.

Furthermore, she does it so eloquently. I like to think of her as a chameleon. When it comes to her music and live performances, you know you’re going to get a great performance. But you really never know where she’s going to take you musically. The same goes for her albums. I feel that by her changing things up it’s what has kept her career going all these years.

Early days Overview

Moving around a lot as a child, Rickie knew not to settle down for too long in the places she lived. She also likes to live in her own imaginary world with her imaginary playmates. She was also taught music and how to sing from her father when he realized how musically inclined she was. Shortly after, her parents separated, and she was living in Arizona with her father. One constant thing in her life was singing and writing. 

The story goes that she went to a rock concert with some friends to California. She liked the vibe of Cali and just never came back. Instead, she decides to embrace a bohemian lifestyle working odd jobs along the way.  During this time, she also happens upon another interesting character along the way that piques her interest. Artist Tom Waits.

Whether it’s true or not, by age 19, she’s living in Los Angeles waiting tables and singing in Coffee Houses, bars and anywhere else you can perform. It’s during this time that she’s performing the song Easy Money, at a club when a friend of hers plays the track over the phone for Lowell George (Little Feat). He records the track and shortly after, she gets signed to Warner Brothers.

Rickie Lee Jones  – Flying Cowboys 

While I love a lot of her music and songwriting, this album is one that’s at the top of my list. Not just because of Jones but also because it’s produced by Walter Becker. My thoughts on this album was more about regeneration, or a rebirth of her life. Where in “The Magazine”, it’s taking a good hard look at things and making hard decisions on what to keep and to  get rid of.

Flying Cowboys – her metamorphosis, her next transformation in life. She got married, had a child, etc. Next she releases “Pop Pop” her jazz inspired album in 1991.

Two years later she releases 1993’s “Traffic from Paradise” featuring a cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and “The Albatross”. You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s worth checking out even if it’s not as polished as the others. Furthermore, it features two songs co-written by Leo Kottke. My favorite track is “The Albatross”.

Other Notable Albums by Rickie Lee Jones

Naked Songs, a great live album! As it should be considering that it was recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco and features astounding renditions of “The Magazine,” and “Last Chance Texaco.” In 1997 Ghostyhead is released and for me it’s her most comfortable album. Meaning, she’s over the chaos of the pass and just enjoying the journey ahead. After this, there is one Live album at Red Rocks, and then seven more studio albums. 

2019’s “Kicks” is an album devoted to her interpretations of a variety of rock and pop tunes as well as a few old standards, and even when the material is familiar, Jones in arguably finds something very much her own in this material. Kicks was recorded in New Orleans with Jones accompanied by a small army of musicians led by the percussionist and co-producer Mike Dillon. Definitely something to check out. Also, The songs that are covered are pretty interesting. You can find most of her albums on different streaming platforms or her website: https://rickieleejones.com/. Enjoy!