Rickie Lee Jones was, is and always will be one of a kind. Just like her music. Her autobiography, Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour lays out just how deeply her life shaped her music. There was tragedy, craziness, and trouble, but mostly it was living a life constantly on the move. Her family moved often from Chicago, to Arizona to California and then repeat. When they did settle down, Rickie would often hit the road herself. At 14 years old, she stole a car with her boyfriend and headed to California. That landed her in juvie. At 16, she’d hitch out west again to sneak in to see Jimi Hendrix play, live in communes, and experiment with psychedelics. It’s safe to say nothing could stop Rickie Lee when she wanted to do something.
While the book is dotted with her lyrics to augment specific passages, it’s important to note that most of the book is about her childhood, growing up, and learning who she was, and who she wanted to be. There’s plenty of info here for inference about certain lyrics, but the book clocks in at 355 pages and details of her debut album startaround page 260. There are, of course, tales of club shows, Lowell George and his cover of “Easy Money,” and the germ of the amazing “Last Chance Texaco” after a date with Tom Waits prior, to the debut album but it’s a slow build to get to her recording career. In fact, it’s really just her debut album, a bit about my personal favorite “Pirates” and a page or two on “Flying Cowboys.” It’s hard not to wish there was more about her incredible body of work.
Speaking of Tom Waits, that chapter begins “How do I start the story of Tom Waits and me?” and it's clear he was her true love. I was shocked by the reason Waits broke up with her.
The Duchess of Coolsville? The Girl At The Volcano? The Devil You Know? The last American troubadour? Yes. All of them. And more…
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