It has come to my attention that the generation born in the 1980s has barely even heard of Rickie Lee Jones. This is an embarrassment and a tragedy. Jones should be in the same holy club as Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Kate Bush, Kathleen Hanna, and Carrie Brownstein. Especially if you are a lady person, if you haven't done so yet, make a little space in the altar of your teenage heart for Jones, who surely deserves some room.
She was a wild child from the get-go, born in 1954 into a family she describes as "lower-middle-class-hillbilly-hipster." Her paternal grandfather was the vaudevillian Peg Leg Jones, a one-legged tap dancer and acrobat. As a teenager, she'd run away from home on a whim. She told Rolling Stone, "I never knew when I was going to leave. I might be walking over to a kid's house, then of all a sudden I would just stick out my thumb and hitchhike across three states."
Her place in music history often seems intertwined with her tumultuous and passionate relationship with Tom Waits. They got together in 1977, and Waits, Jones, and their friend Chuck E. Weiss ran around Los Angeles being wonderful bastards. Weiss once described a time they walked around a party full of bigwigs "with cocktail dip hidden in our palms," shaking everyone's hands. Jones is the red-jacketed blond being pinned to the hood of a car by Waits on the back of his 1978 album Blue Valentine.