26 September, 2012

Things You Should Listen To: The Devil You Know by Rickie Lee Jones

The first CD I ever bought (not the first item of music, that would take us back to LP's and 45's) was Rickie Lee Jones' The Magazine. I didn't have a CD player. I didn't even have the hope of having a CD player. When the compact disc hit it was an artificially expensive format requiring a serious investment in hardware. This was an aspirational purchase. It was a promise to myself that someday I would be the type of girl who'd listen to Rickie Lee Jones on expensive stereo equipment. (As it happened, I gained access to a CD player that very week. I never looked back.)

I can't make you love Rickie Lee Jones. I recognize that she is forever associated with slouched hats and doomed affairs in the hearts and minds of many. Having followed her entire career believe me when I say The Devil You Know is among her best work. This is a covers album. It's also a fairly predictable and shop worn selection - her answer (perhaps) to Rod Stewart's American Songbook. It's a different side of Rickie. There's a gravity to her voice which brings Billie Holliday to mind. She's weary. The girl has grown into herself. There's a moment in The Weight where she makes a sound, just a bit of an Ahh. Within that addition you can hear a resigned fatigue. The sort you quickly stifle before it drowns you. Give her a chance to win you over. For a moment, be the girl who listens to Rickie Lee Jones on outrageously expensive sound equipment.

(What I really want now is a duet between Rickie Lee Jones and Victoria Williams. File that in my dreams next to Joe Jackson recording with Perry Farrell.)


  1. Thank you for getting me to try this. And what a perfect duet idea.

    1. Some people were born to curate book collections - my underutilized talent is duet partnerships.