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Writing Rickie  

Someday I hope to talk to Rickie Lee Jones about her song “Living It Up,” which contains one of my favorite lines of hers: “[They] carried her over the bridges like fluttering pages.” The song is about a trio of familiar Jonesian street characters—colorful, yearning, down-at-the-heels—yet mysteries abound.  

The first lines of the chorus, “Oh Wild and the Only ones / Tell him where you are,” invite speculation. Who’s “him”? Why the caps (as we say in publishing) on “Wild” and “Only ”? And who are the Only…

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Middle Child Sings 

Yesterday was my birthday, which made me think of my song “Middle Child,” released two years ago. It's a live version, recorded at Pianos in NYC during my last pre-pandemic club gig. 

When the lyrics first started to form in my mind for this song, I thought, I can’t sing these words. I felt they were too personal and too revealing. My parents are deceased, yet I still wondered if it was okay to publicly look at a different aspect of their experience, kind of a flip side of my song “Blue Lights.” 

It was…

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The Done Wrongs Do Right 

Sometimes we know people but not really. This was the case for me with the singer Laura Palmer, aka Laura Rebel Angel. We'd both recently been in an online music community and thus become Facebook friends but had never met; however, her post last week announcing her first gig with the Done Wrongs caught my eye.

Aside from dropping in at the Bitter End about a month ago to say hello to my bandmate Joan Chew, I hadn’t stepped into a club or bar since before the pandemic. But bolstered by my recent booster, I…

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Left It in the Studio 

I got the idea for my new song, “Left It on the Stage,” after my husband, the writer Robert Rosen, told me I’d done just that after a gig at the Bronxville Women’s Club—great acoustics!—in Westchester County, N.Y., with guitarist Hoop and bassist Peter Weiss. (Bob explained that he was drawing on the sports expression “left it on the field.”) When a chorus melody popped into my head, I sang it into my phone, where it hibernated for a long time. 

But in 2018, seeing Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star Is

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Rickie and Me 

The iconclastic singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones recently released a memoir, Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour—borrowing her own evocative song title. It’s been almost 10 years since I interviewed Rickie for I haven’t read the memoir yet, but one reviewer called it lyrical and I’m not surprised; during our time together she spoke poetically, colorfully, candidly. We met at Café Henri (since closed) on Bedford Street in the West Village, near where I live. Rickie was…

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My Cousin Sang Harmony 

Gail Harkins, my cousin on my mother’s side, died last weekend. Her passion was music: With her friend Beth Gosnell, she founded Rock by the Sea, which organizes music events to raise money—almost $800,000 so far—for various charities. And since its inception, she was an avid supporter of Sister Hazel’s The Rock Boat, an annual floating music festival; Gail had made all 20 cruises. In a quiet but unmistakable way (tributes speak of her “glow” when watching bands), Gail cheered on musicians and had the…

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…Joan Chew and Graig Janssen—the two musicians I’ve been working with for a few years now, though for many of you they don’t need an introduction. Let’s see, we’ve played: Caffe Vivaldi (sadly, now closed), Bowery Electric, Sidewalk Café (closed), Cornelia Street Café (closed), and Pianos, mostly with repeat visits. I met them both through my wonderful longtime producer, Nick Miller, who brought in Joan to play violin on my song “Alexander/Isabella” and Graig to play piano on “Tiny Stars.” Although I…

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Valentine’s Lane 

Inevitably on Valentine’s Day, either my husband, Robert Rosen, or I bring up our trip to Paris in 1997, when we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport on February 14. I’d chosen our hotel there based on its being called “most romantic for those on a budget” by a travel book. Our tiny room turned out to have strange angles, so that the bed more or less faced a corner, and shriekingly hot-pink walls—not to mention being on a street, rue du Dragon, with a lot of noisy construction. However, that night, when we…

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Birthday Blues and Reds 

Birthdays can be strange. I've always liked mine, just the idea of having a special day, even as I got older and the years went faster. But at times it's brought a stronger sense of mortality and the gravity of being human. 

Last week I came across a poem I wrote a year ago, just as January 23 was turning into the 24th, my birthday. The next day I was having a combination birthday and record-release party. I thought I might read the poem during the concert portion of the evening, but then in the hullabaloo…

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Super(moon) Lyric Video 

Yes, you’re a supermoon to me if you’re reading this! And thanks for the listening, streaming, downloading, sharing, or any other way you’ve been lighting up my music life. 

April’s supermoon, along with the quarantine, inspired me to write “I Can’t Touch You (Supermoon),” a song that has already taken the form of a performance video and a digital single, which I wrote about here. And now it’s a lyric video—my first—released on my birthday (January 24)! 

The video was designed by Christine Haire, with…

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