Significant Songs (89)

Chuck E’s In Love

In 1979, I was 27 years old. I listened to a lot of music, and I was revelling in the delights of Blondie, Kate Bush, Earth, Wind and Fire, and many others. Around the time of my birthday, I heard a song on the radio, and it immediately captured my attention. Hard to categorise, it felt jazzy, but was also definitely in the style of the singer-songwriter, with the feel of Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins about it. But better.

I had never heard of the singer before. Her name was Rickie Lee Jones, and she was from California, (though born in Chicago) and about two years younger than me. I read a little about her in a music journal, and discovered that she was the partner of Tom Waits, the actor and singer, and her eponymous debut album featured artists I liked a lot, including Dr John, and Michael McDonald. The article suggested that she was about to become the ‘next big thing.’ I didn’t know about that, but I knew that I just loved this song. It was very cool, almost unique in a global music scene that at the time was all about brash, punk, and electronic excess.

Thirty-six years later, I still love it just as much as I did back then, if not more. I only have to hear the few notes of the guitar introduction to anticipate the pleasure to come. Here she is, live.

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17 thoughts on “Significant Songs (89)

  1. What a pleasant surprise to find this song among your favorites. It is about a good friend of mine, Chuck E. Weiss, who I transformed into a significant character in my Hollywood novel, The Goners. I used to tease him about the song when it was on the radio, because he also was trying to make it in the music industry, and i would say”you finally made the charts, but in the wrong column.” Rickie Lee was an unusual success story, because she got signed soon after d her arrival in Los Angeles, and had very little professional performing experience. since her song was such a big hit, she was headline tours long before she was ready for it, but she made it through all right.

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    1. One of the pleasures of blogging, is the chance that you might one day happen across tales just like this one. For all those years, I thought she had cleverly invented the name, just to fit the construction of the song, and now here is the background story that I could never have known at the time. Thanks for that, Bill, it is much appreciated.
      (Is that book available from Amazon? I will have to check)

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