Rickie Lee Jones is a singer-songwriter known for her unique and eclectic sound that blends elements of jazz, blues, and rock. Her music is characterized by her distinctive voice, poetic lyrics, and complex arrangements that showcase her skill as a musician. Over the course of her career, Rickie Lee Jones has released numerous albums and garnered critical acclaim for her work. In this article, we will explore the 10 best Rickie Lee Jones songs of all time. From her breakthrough hit “Chuck E’s in Love” to the haunting “The Horses,” these tracks showcase the breadth and depth of her artistry. Her songs are often deeply personal, drawing on her own experiences to explore themes of love, loss, and the complexities of the human condition. Jones’ music has influenced countless artists, and her innovative approach to songwriting continues to inspire new generations of musicians. Whether you are a longtime fan or a newcomer to her music, this article will serve as a guide to the best Rickie Lee Jones songs of all time, exploring the stories behind each track and the impact they have had on the music industry.
1. Pink Flamingos
“Pink Flamingos” is a dark and surreal film by director John Waters, released in 1972. The movie is centered around two families who compete for the title of “filthiest people alive” in a Baltimore trailer park. Divine, a drag queen, plays the main character, Babs Johnson, who lives in a trailer with her mother and son. The film is known for its over-the-top shock value, with scenes featuring nudity, drug use, and grotesque imagery. Despite its controversial content, the film has garnered a cult following over the years and is regarded as a classic of underground cinema.
2. Altar Boy
“Altar Boy” is a short film by director John J. Budion, released in 2019. The film follows the story of a teenage boy, Casey, who struggles with his faith and his sexuality. He is an altar boy at his local Catholic church and develops a crush on a fellow altar boy, resulting in a crisis of faith and an internal struggle to reconcile his feelings with his religious beliefs. The film explores themes of coming-of-age, self-discovery, and the clash of religious and personal identity. “Altar Boy” received critical acclaim for its sensitive portrayal of a difficult topic and its strong performances by the cast, particularly the lead actor, Jesse Pimentel, who brings a nuanced and authentic performance to the character of Casey.
3. Stewart’s Coat
“Stewart’s Coat,” released in 1984 on Jones’ album “The Magazine,” is a wistful ballad featuring Jones’ distinctive vocals and poetic lyrics. The song is built around a simple acoustic guitar melody and includes subtle touches of piano and percussion. The lyrics describe a past love and the memories associated with a coat that the protagonist still holds on to. Jones’ evocative singing style and the intimate feel of the arrangement give the song a poignant and nostalgic atmosphere.
4. Beat Angels
“Beat Angels,” released in 1991 on Jones’ album “Pop Pop,” is a bluesy, up-tempo track featuring a horn section and a grooving bassline. The song is driven by Jones’ sultry vocals and playful lyrics, which celebrate the joys of music and dancing. The horn section adds a festive, jazzy vibe to the song, and the catchy chorus makes it a fun and memorable track. “Beat Angels” showcase Jones’ skills as a songwriter and performer, and demonstrate her ability to work in different musical styles and moods. Jones’ unique voice and artistic sensibility have made her a respected and influential figure in the singer-songwriter genre.
“Tigers” is a song by the American alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins. It was released as a single in 2018, as part of their album “Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.” The song features a heavy, distorted guitar riff and powerful drum beats, with Billy Corgan’s distinctive vocals conveying a sense of longing and nostalgia. The lyrics speak to the idea of being trapped in a life that is not fulfilling, and the desire to break free and reclaim one’s sense of purpose.
The music video for “Tigers” features a surreal, dreamlike aesthetic, with images of dancers and acrobats performing in an empty theater, intercut with shots of the band playing the song in a dimly lit studio. The video’s director, Jimmy Cheng, has said that he wanted to capture the sense of energy and movement in the song, while also exploring themes of transformation and rebirth.
6. Rebel Rebel
“Rebel Rebel” is a song by David Bowie, released in 1974 as a single and later included on his album “Diamond Dogs.” It is a fast-paced, guitar-driven rock song with a catchy chorus and memorable lyrics. The song has been described as a celebration of individuality and non-conformity, with Bowie urging his listeners to embrace their own unique identity.
“Rebel Rebel” is one of Bowie’s most enduring and popular songs, and has been covered by numerous artists over the years. The song’s influence can be heard in the work of many musicians who came after Bowie, particularly in the punk and new wave genres. The music video for “Rebel Rebel” features Bowie in his iconic androgynous appearance, with bright red hair and heavy makeup. The video was one of the first to feature Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, who would go on to become one of the most enduring and beloved characters in rock music history.
7. Jolie Jolie
“Jolie Jolie” is a catchy, upbeat tune that features Winchester’s signature folk-rock sound. The song tells the story of a man who falls in love with a French woman named Jolie. The lyrics are filled with French phrases, adding to the romantic and dreamy feel of the song. Winchester’s smooth vocals and lively guitar playing create a joyful and playful atmosphere that is sure to make listeners smile.
8. Running from Mercy
“Running from Mercy” is a more introspective and contemplative song that showcases Winchester’s songwriting skills. The song features acoustic guitar, piano, and a haunting melody that creates a sense of longing and sadness. The lyrics reflect on the concept of grace and mercy, with Winchester pondering the idea of running away from something that could save him. The song builds to a powerful crescendo, with Winchester’s vocals reaching new heights of emotional intensity.
9. A Stranger’s Car
“A Stranger’s Car” is a haunting and introspective song by American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman. It was released as part of her seventh studio album “Where You Live” in 2005. The song starts with a simple and somber guitar riff that sets the mood for the introspective and contemplative lyrics that follow. Chapman’s voice is emotional and melancholic, conveying a sense of longing and regret. The lyrics of the song tell the story of a woman who wakes up in a stranger’s car with no memory of how she got there or what happened to her. She struggles to piece together what happened to her and how she ended up in this situation. As the song progresses, she reflects on the choices she’s made in her life and how they’ve led her to this point. The song is a powerful commentary on the vulnerability of women and the dangers they face in the world.
10. The Albatross
“The Albatross” is a track from the alternative country band Richmond Fontaine’s 2003 album “Post to Wire.” The song is a haunting, slow-burning ballad that tells a tragic story of a young woman who drowns herself in the river. The band’s lead singer, Willy Vlautin, wrote the lyrics, which are both poetic and heartbreaking, painting a vivid picture of the woman’s last moments. The sparse instrumentation, featuring acoustic guitar, piano, and pedal steel, perfectly complements Vlautin’s raw and emotive vocals, creating a mournful and atmospheric mood.