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Rickie Lee Jones

From her 1979 debut onward, Rickie Lee Jones has proved to be an original, mixing beatnik-based poetic sensibilities with R&B, jazz, folk, and pop. Most of her commercial success came at the outset of her career, but a restless creative spirit -- combined with a stubborn refusal to fit comfortably into any one musical niche -- sealed her ultimate destiny as that of a highly regarded cult heroine.

Jones was born on November 8, 1954, in Chicago, but the volatile relationship between her mother and father resulted in an upbringing that led her everywhere from Phoenix, Arizona, to Olympia, Washington, where an expulsion ended her school career. As a teen, Jones left home and began drifting up and down the West Coast before settling in Los Angeles in the mid-'70s. There she worked a series of waitressing jobs while occasionally performing in area clubs, where she sang and honed her unique, Beat-influenced spoken word monologues. She also began a relationship with fellow boho Tom Waits.

Her first measure of success was as a songwriter; after her friend Ivan Ulz sang Jones' composition "Easy Money" over the phone to Lowell George, the ex-Little Feat frontman included it on his album Thanks I'll Eat It Here. Then in 1978 Jones' four-song demo came to the attention of Warner Bros. executive Lenny Waronker, who enlisted Russ Titleman to co-produce her self-titled 1979 debut LP. Spurred by the success of the jazz-flavored hit single "Chuck E's in Love," Rickie Lee Jones became a smash both commercially and critically, earning praise for Jones' elastic vocals, vivid wordplay, and unique fusion of folk, jazz, and R&B.

With 1981's follow-up, Pirates, she gave early notice that her music would not sit still; employing longer and more complex song structures, her lyrics tackled themes of evolution, change, and death. Two years later, she returned with Girl at Her Volcano, an EP collection of live jazz standards and studio outtakes; with 1984's The Magazine, she made another left turn, teaming with composer James Newton Howard for her slickest, most synth-driven outing to date.

After taking a few years off from recording, she resurfaced with 1989's sterling Flying Cowboys, produced by Steely Dan's Walter Becker and recorded with the aid of the wonderful Scottish trio the Blue Nile. Don Was took over the production reins for 1991's Pop Pop, on which Jones covered ballads ranging in origin from Tin Pan Alley to the Haight-Ashbury while backed by jazz players including Charlie Haden and Joe Henderson. After 1993's Traffic from Paradise, she embarked on an acoustic tour; Naked Songs, a document of those unplugged shows, followed in 1995. Ghostyhead was released in 1997 and the standards record It's Like This appeared three years later.

Jones returned to original material in 2003 with The Evening of My Best Day, an album that expressed her anger and disappointment with contemporary American politics. During the summer of 2005, Rhino released the career-spanning three-CD anthology Duchess of Coolsville. Two years later, Jones released The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard, a stunning collection of songs based on friend Lee Cantelon's 1997 book The Words. Balm in Gilead, another album that found Jones exploring personal and spiritual themes, followed in 2009. In 2012, Jones returned with the Ben Harper-produced covers album Devil You Know. For her next project, Jones chose to protect her unique vision by taking full control of the process; 2015's The Other Side of Desire was financed through an online crowdfunding campaign and released by Jones through her own label, Other Side of Desire Music. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Devil You Know

1. Sympathy For The Devil

2. Only Love Can Break Your Heart

3. Masterpiece

4. The Weight

5. St. James Infirmary

6. Comfort You

7. Reason To Believe

8. Play With Fire

9. Seems Like A Long Time

10. Catch The Wind

x

Track List: Balm In Gilead

1. Wild Girl

2. Old Enough

3. Remember Me

4. The Moon Is Made Of Gold

5. His Jeweled Floor

6. Eucalyptus Trail

7. The Blue Ghazel

8. The Gospel Of Carlos, Norman And Smith

9. Bonfires

10. Bayless St.

x

Track List: The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard

1. Nobody Knows My Name

2. Gethsemane

3. Falling Up

4. Lamp Of The Body

5. It Hurts

6. Where I Like It Best

7. Tried To Be A Man

8. Circle In The Sand

9. Donkey Ride

10. Seventh Day

11. Elvis Cadillac

12. Road To Emmaus

13. I Was There

x

Track List: Duchess of Coolsville

Disc 1

1. A Tree On Allenford

2. Altar Boy

3. Beat Angels

4. Bitchenostrophy

5. Bye Bye Blackbird

6. Chuck E's In Love

7. Company

8. Coolsville

9. Cycles

11. Flying Cowboys

12. Ghost Train

13. Hey Bub

14. It Must Be Love

15. Living It Up

16. Magazine

17. On Saturday Afternoons In 1963

18. Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)

19. Sailor Song

Disc 2

1. Satellites

3. Skeletons

4. Stewart's Coat

5. The Horses

6. The Last Chance Texaco

7. Tigers

8. Traces Of The Western Slopes

9. Ugly Man

10. Up From The Skies

12. We Belong Together

13. Weasel And The White Boys Cool

14. Woody And Dutch On The Slow Train To Peking

Disc 3

1. Sunshine Superman

x

Track List: The Evening Of My Best Day

1. Ugly Man

2. A Second Chance

3. Bitchenostrophy

4. Little Mysteries

5. Lap Dog

6. Tell Somebody (Repeal The Patriot Act)

7. Sailor Song

8. A Tree On Allenford

9. It Takes You There

10. Mink Coat At The Bus Stop

11. The Evening Of My Best Day

12. A Face In The Crowd

x

Track List: It's Like This

1. Show Biz Kids

2. Trouble Man

3. For No One

4. Smile

5. Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys

6. On The Street Where You Live

7. I Can't Get Started

8. Up A Lazy River

9. Someone To Watch Over Me

10. Cycles

11. One Hand, One Heart

x

Track List: Naked Songs (Live And Acoustic)

1. The Horses (Live)

2. Weasel And The White Boys Cool (Live)

3. Altar Boy (Live)

4. It Must Be Love (Live)

5. Young Blood (Live)

6. The Last Chance Texaco (Live)

7. Skeletons (Live)

8. Magazine (Live)

9. Living It Up (Live)

10. We Belong Together (Live)

11. Coolsville (Live)

12. Flying Cowboys (Live)

13. Stewart's Coat (Live)

14. Chuck E.'s In Love (Live)

15. Autumn Leaves (Live)

x

Track List: Flying Cowboys

1. The Horses

2. Just My Baby

3. Ghetto Of My Mind

4. Rodeo Girl

5. Satellites

6. Ghost Train

7. Flying Cowboys

8. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying

9. Love Is Gonna Bring Us Back Alive

10. Away From The Sky

11. Atlas' Marker

x

Track List: The Magazine

1. Prelude To Gravity

2. Gravity

3. Juke Box Fury

4. It Must Be Love

5. Magazine

6. The Real End

7. Deep Space

8. Runaround

9. Rorschachs/Theme For The Pope

10. The Unsigned Painting/The Weird Beast

x

Track List: Pirates

1. We Belong Together

2. Living It Up

3. Skeletons

4. Woody And Dutch On The Slow Train To Peking

5. Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)

6. A Lucky Guy

7. Traces Of The Western Slopes

8. The Returns

x

Track List: Rickie Lee Jones

1. Chuck E.'s In Love

2. On Saturday Afternoons In 1963

3. Night Train

4. Young Blood

5. Easy Money

6. The Last Chance Texaco

7. Danny's All-Star Joint

8. Coolsville

9. Weasel And The White Boys Cool

10. Company

11. After Hours

x

Track List: Have You Had Enough (Radio Single)

Comments

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awesome artist with u unique voice and style!!!!
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Wild girl~~~~~~~~
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kimberbeast
Fontanarama we have the same book ... i see her every chance I get last time was at the Ethical Culture Society and she just gets better and better!!!
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geraldine.eh i n g e r
coolsvill
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Second only to Joni Mitchell in my book...
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What ever happened to Rick
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Stop with the 'who did it first' nonsense and follow jayson.l.poy n e r ' s link, below for the true story. Jeez, you people!

(Pandora, you might consider pointing out the collab in your notes, just to hush the uproar.)
Report as inappropriate
So rare a talent for so long.
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Just FYI, neither stole it. It was a collab.
http://www.d e m o c r a t i c u n d e r g r o u n d . c o m / d i s c u s s / d u b o a r d . p h p ? a z = v i e w _ a l l & a d d r e s s = 3 6 4 x 1 8 3 5 3 9 0
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I believe most of the current female singers owe a great deal of gratitude to the woman who refused to sacrifice her own style. She's a poetic storyteller, blending jazz,funk and just plain cool.
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Rickie Lee LIVE......Ni c e
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Ricki Lee Jones' music had a definitive time period that just hearing a song takes me back to that time of my life...thank you...Ricki
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Great Bio...She earned success the hard way.....on the road... What a voice.
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I love this song
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william.j.gi l b e r t 5
what about Pop Pop from 1991? a wonderful album...
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She takes me back in time to the birth of Female Jazz.....Bil l i e Holidayish.. L O V E HER
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Simply My #1 favorite. Love the style and class. Love the woman.
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Come to Tucson Rickie...ple a s e ! ! ! !
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mcbubble
There's no one like her...amazin g talent!
Report as inappropriate
RLJ songs take me to a cozy place under a tree in the fall up north....coo l , crisp and just splendid
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It's a protest song done in conjunction with SNZ members.

http://music r e m e d y . c o m / r / r i c k i e - l e e - j o n e s / s o n g s / h a v e - y o u - h a d - e n o u g h - 9 8 4 8 . h t m l
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RLJ has always been the Queen of cool!!! just many fools didn't know it .
Report as inappropriate
How nice of the Squirrel Nut Zippers to write this song for whomever the hell this person is.
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To everyone who is asking about SNZ's Put A Lid On It vs. Rickie Lee Jones' Have You Had Enough:

Look at the dates. That should tell you which ripped the other. Basic researching skills, people.
Report as inappropriate
Saw her last week in Salina, Kansas. She's still the Duchess of Coolsville.
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How on earth did the Squirrel Nut Zippers get away with 'Put a Lid on it'? It's basically a rip off of Rickie Lee Jones 'Have you had enough'
Report as inappropriate
mattanddonna
Flying Cowboys is a brilliant album. It's on constant rotation in my car!
Report as inappropriate
That was a mistake on my previous post. Should have read. SNL...NOT ...SN. SORRY I think she did Coolsville and Chuckie if memory serves That was a long time ago and I never saw a repeat? I do not think her stuff was released on SNL music DVD box sets? Too bad, she was great.(as always) that night.
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Nobody wants to be common by naming Chuckie's in Love, but what a great tune! So many to pick from! Weasel and White Boy Cool is my pick. Just like Ricki..., COOL is exactly what it is. The guitar riff (and tone) is so nice and horns are right on. Lyrics remind me of Springsteen tunes like Spirit in The Night, where you try and picture the characters. How about live duet she does w/l Lyle Lovett on a beautiful song, NORTH DAKOTA. Another fav is Night Train! I recall her on SN, so good!
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C'mon Rickie Lee! This is a total ripoff of the SNZ of Put A Lid On It
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A great singer/songw r i t e r . Guys dig her, chicks want to be her...or at least that's how I remember it...
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jalepard
My fav RLJ song is Danny's All Star Joint
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Been a Rickie Lee Jones fan since i was 14. She is not just jazz or RnB or Folk, she's a bonafide beatnik.
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joekaminski
I'm amazed at the posters here who cite Company as their favorite RLJ song. I thought it was just me and one other person. She is an amazing talent and very under apreciated. I agree with those who treasure Girl and Her Volcano. Walk Away Renee and Under the Boardwalk are classics.
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everettj4232
I still want to cry everytime I hear Company, it is just one of those song I can listen to over and over. After all these years it is still in my favorites rotation
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Your comments are right on, folks... female Waits, Girl At Her Volcano, under-apprec i a t e d . . . on and on. Ricki was pivotal, no one sounds like Ricki. I'd love to sit with her, have a cigarette and just talk. And I don't smoke. Kerouac cool, Dean tragic (sort of), Van Gogh unique. I hope she understands what an impact her music has meant to people. Bravo.
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Have you had enough sounds EXACTLY like 'Put a Lid On It' by Squirrel Nut Zippers. Which ones are the thieves?
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I'll never forget hearing Danny's All Star Joint for the first time in May of '79, and saying Who the hell is this. I've got to know. It's the only time I ever wanted to find out if an artist had a fan club so I could join it. She's only grown better with time. If Girl At Her Volcano isn't one of the best albums of all time, I don't know what is. Rickie Lee has made all our lives so much richer.
Report as inappropriate
suzanne003
I saw her play in '79. I fell in musical love. Her music has been such a soundtrack to my life. I spoke the words to Company at my mother's funeral. Thank you, Ms. Jones.
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where is pop pop?
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True Hollywood story; I used to pass Ricki playing to herself on the grass on the campus of Santa Monica Community College in the seventies. Got to see her play at a little place called the Taurus tavern in Venice Beach. Lucky. True artist. My fav's: From The Magazine, It Must Be Love, and her version of Gerry and Pacemakers sixties ballad Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying from the Flying Cowboys LP. That one is achingly sparse and wistful; the best version of the song I've heard.
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thehiebertco
Shortly after her debut album went to number one, she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. I believe it was the spring of 1979. I was on this funky weekend ski trip with this funky Denver ski club staying at this funky condo in the incredibly funky ski town of Crested Butte, CO where we watched funky Ricky Lee Jones perform her funky songs wearing her funky beret. I was smittened. She blew me away. I never forgot it. Way Coolsville!
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Rickie leaves me speechless, what she has given the world at large and to me is priceless. As a lifelong musician, producer, engineer I am in awe os her vision, her precision, her obsessions. I think I have loved her forever
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I saw Ricki at the Orpheum in Boston inthe 80's and she was so cocked, I swear she almost fell of the stage! I didn't matter, she was great! Very edgy...

Haha, I saw her in LA in the early 80s, a bottle of whiskey on the piano. It was, by far, one of the best concerts of my life!
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jrossi89
Looking forward to seeing Rickie Lee at the Egg in Albany ny. Been a big Fan, ever sense I heard that beautiful voice :) Ditto Todd! Thx u Heaven
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josephs coat on when a man loves a woman great flick!!!!
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toddeilts5
rickie lee jones presents an amazing body of work. I have had all of her albums from her first self entitled to Gilead. I've lived my life listening to her, glad God gave her to us.
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I love Rickie Lee Jones and have ever since I bought her first album. Listening to Pirates changed my life. She is truly an original to be cherished.
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pjillie88
Looked it up - title of her song played at the end of the movie "When A Man Loves A Woman" is Running From Mercy.....
Report as inappropriate
pjillie88
The first I ever heard of Rickie Lee Jones, I was watching a movie and LOVED the song that was playing in the background so much that I rented the movie so I could watch the credits roll in slo-mo and found it was one of her songs/ballad s - I believe the movie was 'When A Man Loves A Woman' with Meg Ryan but I can't remember the name of the song anymore.
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