Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rickie Lee Jones 11.19.05 Tribeca Arts Center

by Charlotte Deaver

I used to try to sing like Rickie Lee Jones. Ha. Needless to say, never in my wildest dreams could I have sung like her. It used to make me feel bad, though, like I was a terrible singer because I couldn’t hit the high notes or sing and write songs with that much exposed emotion. But that was a long time ago, when, even more so than now, everything referred back to myself.

Last Saturday night, however, it was all about Rickie, who I now know no one can sing like. Her voice, her songs, her expression, her energy, and her particular blues are all her own. And she sends it out into the world like an urgent messenger.

Her performance at the Tribeca Arts Center was mesmerizing, and it was partly because she herself seemed mesmerized, rapt, like Kubla Kahn and his floating hair, or the visionary damsel with a dulcimer who drew him into such state of heavenly dread. Every song seemed to ring out in generous waves of sound and feeling, her voice pouring forth not only in expression, but in giving.

But what could we give back? We were like the chorus in an ancient Greek tragedy, speaking the obvious and dumb from the sidelines. If the goal of tragedy is to evoke empathy from its audience, than I might be able to say that there is something tragic about Rickie Lee Jones’ music (bear with me, if you would). She is an intense performer not simply because she’s confessional, or bruised, or much older than most other pop performers and both more wearied and grateful because of it. She is able to slice through and spill over the way she does because something large and fallen and errant looms about her. We see that, and we empathize. That’s what she gives us -- she offers bits of darkness and beauty, with a worldly angel’s voice, and reminds us of our capacity to feel.

Check out her website on community and politics, too: Furniture For the People


Anonymous Anonymous said...

at the Portage Theater
Saturday, February 24

3:36 PM  

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