Skip to comments.Rickie Lee Jones career is almost over. Slams W to try to revive it.
Posted on 10/31/2003 7:49:51 AM PST by TomHarkinIsNotFromIowa
Patriot act: Chuck E.'s in love. Rickie Lee's in revolt By Larry Katz Friday, October 31, 2003
Rickie Lee Jones first charmed listeners 24 years ago with her biggest hit, ``Chuck E.'s In Love.''
Now she's singing about a guy named George W. and she's got no love for him at all.
With her new album, ``The Evening of My Best Day,'' Jones ventures into topical songs for the first time in her career. She says she didn't start out intending to mix politics with her music. President Bush drove her to it.
``I started working on the record a year ago,'' says Jones, who performs Monday at the Somerville Theatre. ``It was just time. It had been six years (since recording an album of new material) and I needed to pick myself up.
``I don't know if I would have consciously resisted writing a political lyric,'' she says, speaking from her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb. ``My first instinct would be that it wouldn't be a very good song. But I just started writing them. I was furious that nobody was saying anything.''
Jones lashes out at President Bush - in fact, both the current and former President Bush - on ``Ugly Man,'' the opening track on ``The Evening of My Best Day.''
``And he'll tell you lies
And he'll look at you and tell you lies
He grew up to be like his father
If you happen to be both Bush fan and Jones lover - it's possible, right? - you can listen to ``Ugly Man,'' an enchanting jazz waltz, and not even notice that Jones' gentle purr masks a scathing attack on the president. Jones doesn't mention any names in the song. But a picture of George W. next to the song's lyrics on her Web site (www.furnitureforthepeople.com) makes the object of her ire evident.
Is she concerned her scorn for the president might bring a Dixie Chicks-like backlash?
``I have nothing to lose,'' she says, ``because I don't sell any records anyway.''
Jones laughs, then turns serious. ``After some comments I made were published, people came on my Web site and posted comments that were murderous. It was just incredible. I thought, `This can't be the (political) right.' Because if it is, then it really is a battle between good and evil. If there's a reasonable right and left, then they better bond together and protect the country.
``I have to tell you, all I really want to do is talk about my music. But I feel all this passion about what is going on in this country. I can't help it. I'm a very patriotic person. I resent very much that the word `patriotism' is becoming synonymous with facism. So I felt I'll put everything on the line to give my point of view.''
Jones makes that viewpoint abundantly clear on ``Tell Somebody,'' a percolating gospel number in which she delivers the message of the song's subtitle - ``Repeal the Patriot Act Now'' - with righteous fervor.
``I want to know how far you will go
To protect our right of free speech?
Because it only took a moment
Before it faded out of reach
Oh, tell somebody,
What's happening in the U.S.A.?''
But Jones also expresses a touching, spiritually rooted appreciation for life on poetically striking songs such as ``A Tree On Allenford'' and ``Mink Coat at the Bus Stop.''
``It's an optimistic record,'' she says. ``Because that's where I've come to in my life. I'm 48. My mom had a stroke last year. Taking care of my mom and my 15-year-old daughter made me so glad to be alive.
``I remember watching the World Trade Center and thinking that maybe the next day these men would destroy the world. My heart just broke. But over the next year, with that and the things that happened to my family, instead of feeling broken, I felt energized. I will not be stopped. I have music to play and good things to say and bring to people. And now I've made the best record of my career.''
Jones' confidence shines on ``The Evening of My Best Day.'' It boasts a varied and illustrious cast ranging from L.A. rock heroes Grant Lee Phillips, David Hidalgo, Mike Watt and D.J. Bonebrake to guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Rob Wasserman, while stylistically evoking Steely Dan, Suzanne Vega, delta blues, Brazilian samba, Celtic folk and more. But Jones' singular sensibility makes it sound like no one else.
``To me, I made a record that is undeniably strong,'' she says. ``My intentions were good. My singing was great. No song faltered. It's great in an old way, like a Beatles record. Even if I'm talking about the gravity of what's going on, it's light to the touch. It doesn't harm you. And when it's done, you want to hear it again.
``I just wanted to make people feel good.'' Jones lets loose a deep laugh. ``Can you believe it?''
Sure, I can. But George W. won't.
Rickie Lee Jones plays Monday at 8 p.m. at the Somerville Theatre. Tickets are $32.50-$37.50. Call 617-625-4088. E-mail: Lkatz@bostonherald.com.
Did you ask for a Laura Ingraham picture?
while stylistically evoking Steely Dan, Suzanne Vega, delta blues, Brazilian samba, Celtic folk and more.
"stylistically evolving"=a clunky way of saying she covers them
Yeah, right, Rickie. Not one single popular singer has jumped on the burgeoning bandwagon to bash Bush to revive a moribund career. Not one.
I'm not entirely sure how her reaction to the WTC atrocity translates into this sort of thing, frankly, unless she's conflating Bush with the Islamists as people who are trying to "destroy the world." This isn't exactly straight thinking.
But it wasn't politics that has marginalized Rickie's career, she did that herself. I saw her live early in her career, and she could hardly stand up on stage - I truly hope she's licked that particular demon, because it's tough to start over at 48 and she really has, or had, talent. It's kind of a shame politics will make some of her early fans (me) reluctant to purchase this record.
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