Rickie Lee Jones songs exist in the same world as Tom Waits’s. Full of uncanny descriptions of down-on-their-luck misfits and oddballs, romanticizing small-time hustlers, well traveled lovers, and gin joint jockeys. It’s Kerouac via Bukowski in song.
I met my wife on a dating site. When you first meet someone online dating you leave your profile active, obviously, because you’re just dating. As things progress and get a little more serious you deactivate your profile. Not delete, mind you! It’s only been a couple of months and if this thing goes south you don’t want to have to come up with all-new self-deprecating jokes, not-humiliating ways to compliment my own eyes, and lists of favourite movies and music that convey just the right balance of “I’m fun to hang out with,” and “I’m good to fuck.”
After we had been together for some time and had committed to each other we did a fun activity that I highly recommend to anyone who meets someone worth a damn through online dating. We got together at her place and re-activated our profiles to read them together one last time before permanently deleting them. As we read through them, we exposed our artifice to each other. Absolutely I mentioned that the first thing I did when I bought my own house was drill a hole in the wall to run speaker wire through to the kitchen, not to prove that I love a kitchen dance party, as stated in my profile, but to impress that I own my house. And absolutely, she confirmed, it worked. In the favourite books section of my profile I had added at the end of my list “…the Beats were important to me growing up.” I didn’t think much of my inclusion of that fact, or the way I had worded it, but my wife told me that specific phrasing left an impression on her. She said it alerted her to a thing we had in common (adolescent love of Beat writing) while also letting her know that maybe I had matured beyond that singular interest. I don’t know if I’ve matured beyond it, but I’ve definitely continued to broaden my tastes, incorporating new ideas, sounds and points of view as I go.
The sound on this record is clean and crisp. The piano and vocals sound great and the mix is just about perfect throughout. The only time that clean late-‘70s cum early-‘80s production really fails the material is on Woody and Dutch on the Slow Train to Peking where the band is playing at a hoot and holler revival meeting inspired jam session vibe that comes across as staged and sterile.
We Belong Together sprawls out like a Springsteen story-song where a working class love burns too strong and with far too much forward momentum to stop long at a chorus.
Skeletons sounds like a song from the Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack. I keep wanting Jones to build into a big, emotional belted-out climax a la Ellen Greene. This thought has now awakened a desire in me to hear an eclectic mix of interpretations of Little Shop of Horrors covers from great and cool musicians from a number of genres. Does anybody have Hal Wilner’s email address?
Favourite Song: We Belong Together