…you stay inside this foolish grin

’79 was a bumpin’ year for the Duchess of Coolsville.  If you weren’t listening to her distinctive (Grammy Award winning) signature sound on the radio, with its finger snaps and jive talk beat, then you were hearing imitations of it in Dr. Pepper and McDonalds commercials.   And her quirky fashion statements were showing up all over the place: the skin-tight lycra pant suits, the elbow length fingerless gloves, the red high heels and of course the ubiquitous berets.

Born on the north side of Chicago in 1954, Rickie Lee Jones was mainly raised in Arizona, a wide-open place that would provide the imagery found in much of her writing (including today’s selection).  Her father, a violent alcoholic, moved the family around a lot and the struggling Rickie Lee spent much of her early childhood in the company of imaginary friends.

But her mother was a strong-willed woman who worked double shifts as a waitress so that her kids would want for nothing. By the time she was 12 Rickie Lee had studied ballet, tap, acting and modeling.  She was also an AAU swimmer.  After her parents’ divorced she ran away from home (at the age of 16), spending time in Chicago, Detroit, Phoenix (where she enrolled in the Little Theatre), Washington State (where her mother had moved) and southern California.  A natural musician, she started performing publicly at the age of 21, slowly finding her jazz-inspired sound, while playing in clubs up and down the West Coast.

By the time she was 25, Rickie Lee Jones had become the hard-drinking, beatnik-beret wearing hipster that’s seen on the cover of her first album, gaining further notoriety as part of “Rock’s Bohemian Couple” along with her then-inseparable boyfriend (none other than) Tom Waits. “We walk around the same streets,” she once said,” and I guess it’s primarily a jazz-motivated situation for both of us. We’re living on the jazz side of life.”

Released in 1979, that eponymous first album peaked at Number 3 on the album charts (selling well over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone), with its first track, “Chuck E’s in Love” reaching Number 4 on the singles charts. Today’s selection is the album’s second track.

TODAY’S SONG – Saturday 25 February 2012

On Saturday Afternoons in 1963

The most as you’ll ever go

Is back where you used to know

If grown-ups could laugh this slow

Where as you watch the hour snow

Years may go by

And years may go by

So hold on to your special friend

Here, you’ll need something to keep her in

Now you stay inside this foolish grin

Though any day your secrets end

But then again

Years may go by

And years may go by

You saved your own special friend

‘Cuz here, you need something to hide her in

And you stay inside that foolish grin

When everyday now, secrets end

Oh and then again

Years may go by

And years may go by

Years may go by

Years may go by…

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