Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones: Bohemian Troubadour
Who raised this banner/ that no one hears?/ The Jack beneath the axis/ Digging under the current/ Someone’s trying to get back/ But who’s qualified to retrieve the soul’s enduring song?/ from the grottoes of her eyes/ and the clashing of the stars
Throughout my college days, I had this quote from Rickie Lee Jones’ “Traces of the Western Slope” hanging on my dorm-room door. I have a long history with Rickie Lee Jones. I first heard Rickie Lee when I visited my alma mater,
For most people, RLJ is known, mainly, if not entirely for the 1979 mega-hit “Chuck E’s in Love” which seems to provoke a love/hate response. A later hit, “It Must Be Love,” is less well-known but has appeared in more than a handful of movies and TV shows. However, for me, her second album Pirates will always be my favorite. It contains what I consider to be the greatest love song ever written, “We Belong Together,” and one of my all-time favorite songs, “Livin’ It Up.” RLJ went on to experiment less successfully with various musical styles in later albums, including jazz and trip-hop. But she still has a dedicated fanbase that comes out whenever she tours.
RLJ can be a bit of a mercurial performer. The first time I saw her was in
Last night at the Fillmore, RLJ's voice sounded better than it has in years. The crowd was very enthusiastic and she was clearly enjoying herself. The highlights included “Weasel and the White Boys,” a re-arranged “Livin’ It Up,” “Easy Money” (a nearly perfect example of story-telling song-craftmanship) and her cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel.” She also did a fantastic version of “We Belong Together.” RLJ was joined on stage by a small ensemble that included bassist and San Francisco native Rob Wasserman, who has previously performed with Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello to name a few. He is perhaps one of the most talented bass players around and added the perfect touch for almost every song. It was a great evening of music and a reminder of why Rickie Lee has a special place in my heart.