Monday, June 24, 2019

The Sand Woman in the Black Beret

Image result for rickie lee jonesI witnessed Ricky Lee Jones on stage last night. It felt like I was there to study, and the anticipation built by her percussionist on the vibraphone was tangible in the theatre...
The night was a purple sound with green and blue peacock feathers set in a blood red and yellow desert filled with mysterious men and dusty cactus plants. Her voice was like a world-worn muppet under her wispy blonde hair, and her shiny platform glitter boots matched her unwavering voice each time she corrected the sound.

"Too much reverb, now we're going down the abyss," she growled softly across the way.

Most of the words she sang seemed to not be in English to my rafter ears, but the ones that were clear are sitting still, waiting to impress, to shape.

My friends John, Steve, and Thad listened with rapt attention, clearly being transported to earlier times in their lives, every moment sitting just on the edge of their seats, slapping one another on the shoulders when "that one" would come on. I willingly threw my voice and my clapping and snapping down into her cap after the excellent musicianship got me to sway to a style of music I wouldn't willingly seek out for myself.

I remember four songs in particular: it took her putting away the guitars and the foot petals to get through to me. They are:

The Horses
The Spider in the Circus of the Falling Star
Flying Cowboys
We Belong Together

I already read over the lyrics that slipped past me in the haze, and I grow more impressed now that I've put my eyes on the words and how they twist through the sand. She strikes me as sand...

For a while, I felt like I was sitting outside a glass bowl set over the room, and the glass was a generation gap while the scent of wine wafted up to us. Until she sang the one song I knew, and I shed a couple tears as she smiled to the audience during "We Belong Together." My person couldn't make it, and that song reminded me of sitting with him under glowing praise in a songwriting circle...

I will revisit the strange rightness of that night over and over again, sitting with legends, watching legends. John's eyes fairly sparked when it ended and he expectantly breathed, "Well?!"

How comfortable and open I felt, sitting like a large wooden wardrobe, unlocked, doors flung wide and slow, ready for blue light and swirls behind my eyes. She made me want to write today.

Thank you, John. 
Thank you, Ms. Jones.

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