Duchess of Coolsville Comes to Door County

Door Community Auditorium

Where have you been all my life, Rickie Lee? I was born in 1985, and so missed the hype of her wave-making Rolling Stone Magazine cover, August 9, 1979. Even now, looking at Rickie Lee Jones in a beret and black lace, white heels, it’s clear this woman’s got a whole lotta style and sass to accompany a fierce talent that’s spanned decades.

That next year – 1980 – Jones won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. She was also nominated for: Best Album, Best Pop Vocal, Best Rock Vocal, Best New Song. One critic wrote of her: “highly touted new pop-jazz-singer-songwriter” and another critic as “one of the best–if not the best–artist of her generation.”

On the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine again August 6, 1981, she was breaking musical ground before I said my first words, and she still is, her voice an astounding combination of smoky jazz and soft folk, sometimes

I delve into her musical history, past and present. How about the song, “The Horses?” written for her daughter, this song rocks my soul every time I hear it:

That’s the way it’s gonna be, little darlin’
We’ll be riding on the horses, yeah
Way up in the sky, little darlin’
And if you fall I’ll pick you up, pick you up

She also performed this song at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. She’s released 15 albums to date, the most current of which, 2009’s Balm in Gilead, hailed by a New Yorker critic as an “artistic rejuvenation.”

A true poet, Jones writes intensely personal and intriguing music. She’s a woman that has overcome all odds to help shape and change music for over 40 years. Her commitment to original music, to her own passions and creativity has yielded a variety of music; she surprises and pushes boundaries.

Her old tune, “The Last Chance Texaco,” from her first album in 1979, Rickie Lee Jones, is beautiful, haunting, and bluesy, a portrait:

A long stretch of headlights
Bends into I-9
Tiptoe into truck stops
And sleepy diesel eyes
Volcanoes rumble in the taxi
And glow in the dark
Camels in the driver’s seat
A slow, easy mark

But you ran out of gas
Down the road a piece
Then the battery went dead
And now the cable won’t reach…

A good example of her poetic lyrics, Rickie Lee has the power to raise you up and bring you with her into a darker place, all the while feeling moved by her intense energy and charisma.

The woman’s an icon; she came round and defied expectations, went through ups and downs, and exploded the “women in music” scene. In a recent Q&A in Vanity Fair, Jones says of herself, “I got that kind of bawdy reputation. It was really hard for certain parts of the media to let that go. They love to portray women as dying things. It’s romantic, right? We don’t tell that story about men but we tell it about Billie Holiday, Rickie Lee Jones. The fall of the rose.”

I’ve only just been introduced to Rickie Lee Jones and to her music, but I’m jazzed to see her play tomorrow at the Door Community Auditorium. It’s a special gift, having her here to play selections from a lifetime of music.

As she said in her interview with Vanity Fair:

“But if I pick up the guitar, right away I feel better. And I guess that goes into the song…. That’s a mystical, magical thing.”

And hopefully a mystical, magical performance.


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