Her fame was fleeting, but Jones’s songs endure


Mojo has been a better music magazine than Rolling Stone for a long time, and forget that there isn’t much good music to write about these days, that’s another story.

The July Mojo profiled singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones, who debuted in 1979 with a Top 5 album and the hit single “Chuck E.’s In Love” but soon after suffered a career-damaging meltdown sparked by heroin, failed love (with her mentor, singer/songwriter Tom Waits) and that reliable old villain, the pressures of fame.

Jones pushed herself to the limit on her second album, Pirates (1981), a boldly impressionistic effort that just barely fits into a pop music bag. It’s beautiful, but all the compositions ride a strong current of melancholy that might drag you under if you’ve already got the blues.

Here’s Mojo writer Bob Mehr on Pirates:

The eight-song LP remains an ethereal masterpiece of lost love and spiritual unrest… The spectral presence of Waits haunts the lyrics of “A Lucky Guy” and “Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)”; meanwhile the songs dissolve into one another, the strings and horn arrangements imparting a dream-like quality.

Anyway, the wankers at Mojo (it’s British) haven’t posted the article online, in case you’re wondering why there’s no link, so here’s a recent interview of Jones from Vanity Fair.

If you don’t know Jones’s work, seek out Rickie Lee Jones, Pirates, the jazzy Girl at Her Volcano (1983), The Magazine (1984), and Flying Cowboys (1989), all available online, some easier to find than others.

Footnote: I don’t mean to suggest that Jones’s story is Amy Winehouse-level sad. She’s very much alive, recording and touring, older and wiser. But sad.

This entry was posted in arts, mainstream media, pop music and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Her fame was fleeting, but Jones’s songs endure

  1. Pingback: Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Jones flamed out, but her songs endure

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