LOVING RICKIE LEE JONES: Since I've been yammering on about American Idol so much lately (and many thanks to all of you who read...including the hundreds of lurkers who never post), I thought I'd continue on a musical theme. While I read poetry constantly and find it a source of inspiration, I would say music and films play an equal role. Music has been a touchstone, long before I started seriously trying to write poetry back in the late 1980s, whether it was Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac or Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel. I've even been influenced by Kylie Minogue. One of my recent poems is about a dream I had where Kylie was working the drive-thru at a fast food window out on the wild and windy moors of England.

Another favorite musician and poet is the great Rickie Lee Jones. I've been meaning to post something about RLJ's new album, The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard, for a bit. This thematic album takes the Christ story and gives it a modern slant. It's not a "religious album," but ponders what would happen if Christ were alive today. This record began when she was asked to come and contribute to a spoken word project based on Lee Cantelone's book, The Words, where he stripped the Bible down to Christ's words only. In that context, Christ warns against the perils of organized religion and his true message was about equality and liberation, not the fanatical, political, hate-mongering that fuels so many denominations of the so-called "Christian church" today.

Jones came in to do one of the spoken word tracks and was so inspired, that in less than a year, she had this stunning album. I think it's absolutely brilliant...one of the best albums of her career. It is definitely a departure for her in content, but it's so beautifully done. "Falling Up" is one of my favorites, with its hooky and soaring chorus, and I love "Elvis Cadillac," which has Jesus driving around in one of The King's favorite cars and visiting Janis Joplin. But the real beauty on this album is the spoken word track, "Where I Like It Best." The lyrics perfectly express how I feel about organized religion:

when you pray
pray alone by yourself
in the secret room of your heart
don't go out into the church filled with people and pray
God hears every secret that you say
see all those people praying on tv and the churches
they like to make a big parade out of what they're doing
they think God hears them louder if they say it
over and over and over and over and over again...

It's a very emotional album. I've found myself tearing up while listening to some of it, and Jone's voice has only grown more expressive. It's raw and sometimes it squalls, but her voice remains one of the most unique instruments in music. Whether you are religious, spiritual, questioning or don't follow any religion at all...The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard will command your attention. I'm already being inspired by it.


I like your comments on the Jones' album. Intereting focus in the music. Makes me want to buy it.
Anonymous said…
Lisa Allender here--you have me excited about this new CD--I can't wait to get it!
How very daring--to quote Christ at all, is a HUGE step--I'd say a good one, and indeed, as you noted--Christ was/is all about PEACE & SOCIAL JUSTICE...
Hugs & Peace & Blessings, baby!
Tania Rochelle said…
For a less informed (granted) and much less positive review of this cd, visit.
Nick said…
Been a fan ever since I heard "Chuck E's in Love".
i might have to check it out.
You ain't the only male to have that dream about Kylie! You may be the only gay one though. ;)


Popular Posts