I loved her music when it first came out, more than forty years ago. She was so obviously unlike anyone else on the music scene at the time. Jazzy, Bluesy, big-hearted, street-smart, and very cool. The Duchess of Coolesville, they called her. But her songs pointed beyond that cool, toward dark depths and pain, manic highs and shattering lows, and the ethos of a teen runaway. You wanted to be with her, learn her Jazzy, street-smart ways, protect her if you could, if she would let you. And she was friends with Tom Waits, the author of “Jersey Girl,” the deep, whiskey-yang, to her soulful, sultry, vagabond-yin.
So many great songs on that first album, and so much range. Between and within each song. The seemingly light, with “Chuck E.’s in Love,” and “Danny’s All-Star Joint,” to the break-your-heart vibes of “The Last Chance Texaco,” “On Saturday Afternoons in 1963,” and perhaps my favorite song on this album of wonders, “Company.”
Last year, Rickie Lee Jones published a memoir, Last Chance Texaco, which I hope to read soon. Given the life she’s led, the fame she achieved, and the lyrics of her songs over the years, I’m betting it’s an amazingly good read.