The story you write, you live.
from Rickie Lee Jones’, Wild Girl, (Balm in Gilead CD)
I lived in LA in the early eighties when Rickie Lee Jones’ first album appeared and changed my musical tastes. Everything she described I understood on a level that I could not put into words. I was an LA transplant from back east. She was from Phoenix. The street was foreign to me, and yet. . . . This was Los Angeles, its essence, the place I both loved and hated at the same time and the first place where I had ever felt free enough to be my sometimes terrifying self. My experience of LA may have been different from hers, but she captured the feelings I was having about the place where I wasn’t raised but where I finally grew up.
As quickly as I discovered her, Rickie Lee and I lost touch, or rather I did which I realize in retrospect was a huge mistake. It left a gap, one that was not only self-punishing but pointless. Rickie Lee has consistently been making innovative music and evolving as an artist. Both Pirates and The Magazine are wonderful CDs which I have just recently discovered. I don’t know why or how I missed those works. I will mark it down as one of life’s enduring mysteries.
So, when I had a chance to see Rickie Lee last December at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, I took it as an opportunity to not only hear a great performer but to revisit my former self.
I have to say that her concert had the same effect on me that her first album did. She has grown. She has changed. Life has happened. His Jeweled Floor, the song she wrote inspired by her mother’s death, is meant to ease a soul from one life to the next. I had heard the song the week before without realizing it was hers. Just hearing it had sent me into tears for my mother, whom I lost over a year ago. Rickie Lee had written the song that connected me to my most heart opening experience.
And then there was Wild Girl, a song written from Rickie Lee to her daughter on the occasion of her 21st birthday. I don't have a daughter, though, over the years, my two nieces have done an admirable job as stand-ins. But I remember my own wild girl, and my next book, The Map of True Places is the story of a wild girl who has been temporarily tamed. And so, as once before, Rickie Lee, you are speaking directly to me. I promise not to lose touch with you again.