Graham Reid | | 4 min read
The first and only time I have seen Rickie Lee Jones was at the Laurie Anderson-Lou Reed curated Vivid Festival in Sydney a couple of years back. Rickie Lee played an intimate show with her band in a room of the Opera House and she was . . . different.
My first impression was she was very stoned, or acting like someone very stoned. But then as the sorta/autobiographical show unfurled and she talked about songs in her life and played them, it all started to make sense.
She was just different.
She was also good humoured, self-effacing, sometimes lost track of her own thread and, perhaps this is all that matters, played songs from right across her excellent catalogue.
For perhaps far too many people she has been reduced down to a couple of songs (most obviously Chuck E's in Love about Chuck E Weiss) and that relationship with Tom Waits waaaay back in time now (the break-up of which she outlined on her album Pirates).
But Jones has sprung some absolutely wonderful albums in the past decade: Elsewhere has had very good things to say about Sermon on Exposition Boulevard (I wrote “it will be more appreciated in time to come than it might be right now”) and especially Balm in Gilead (“typically rewards in small doses, but is a real grower”), while also conceding they might not be the easiest of propositions for casual listeners.
But when she played songs from them in the context of her others, they made perfectly good sense.
Rickie Lee Jones plays the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland on March 15 so I thought we should offer her the courtesy of answering the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire.
And she did, and was good humoured, self-effacing, sometimes lost track of her own thread . . . and different.
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
probably the music to peter pan. that crocodile song
Harry Belafonte .. day-o and all that
my first pop was Meet the Beatles. big deal for me.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
i imitated cynthia lennon so i would be like Them when i met them and they would love me.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
Lennon, nirvana, gaga and i don't know the last two.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
sweet thing, van morrison
pixies ... where is my mind
empty pages, traffic.or was it blind faith? [Ed note: It was Traffic]
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
i have a shiny purple jacket that was given to me on my first tour in europe.
it was the kinda of letterman jacket record folk were wearing then. it has
my name on it. spelled wrong. I still have it it's about 35 years old.
i hated it at the time. i guess thats why it sat in my closet for so long.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
i dont read books on music or musicians.
If you could get on stage with anyone
it would be . . . (And you would play?)
van morrison. i would sing. or i could play too.
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
assuming it mattered to me that someone who did not already understand me understand me better
by some other means than speaking to me or watching me... or hearing me...
west side story, part of me lives in that movie.
on the waterfront i love marlon brando
Legend. tim curry, the devil,fairies and uh, roxy music guy and jon anderson music.. what more could you ask for.
or maybe smileys people, BBC production from the 80s. i like spy stuff. and kinda have a crush on john lecarre
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .
something by stevie nicks. she makes a lot of dough and those aren't bad songs. i might be embarrassed but the money would buy me therapy.
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
I love "lovers' or 'boy and girl' or ..its by Toulouse Lautrec .. just a boy and girl ..charcoal on brown paper. he is looking at her
she is .. thinking or talking about nothing important... they are in bed.. i think he is very young. something about this drawing makes me feel like I am there, and I am always She, and I also am he,and love him,and oh my
its a good little simple drawing I saw in the Orangerie, and then they moved it in the Museum d'Orsay. however you spell it.
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
a bird over the sea
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
Well... With someone I really liked a lot. doing whatever we wanted.
well, perhaps i would go to Africa. I'd like save someone. maybe spend time with children
and animals. discover a new plant.see my daughter ... happy, perhaps with a child. all those things.
or maybe id just stay out on tour.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
i guess Pirates because most people think so. also because at the time it came out it seemed quite new, quite deep into a personal reservoir using fictional characters at a time when that simply had not really been done in just that way. as a second record it was profound. but it almost overshadowed the first, which was pretty spectacular.
Rickie Lee Jones plays the Bruce Mason
Centre, Auckland on March 15