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YouTube Gold: Rickie Lee Jones

A total American original

Ricky Lee Jones en concert en 1979
 Ricky Lee Jones en concert au Palace à Paris le 11 septembre 1979, France.
Photo by Bertrand LAFORET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

When Rickie Lee Jones hit the music scene in 1979, she was an immediate sensation. There was no one remotely like her.

Her first hit, Chuck E.’s In Love, was immensely charming and the rest of her debut album was off the charts good. Even now it still sounds fresh.

It swung around between funky songs like Chuck E.’s In Love, Easy Money, Weasel and the White Boys Cool and Danny’s All-Star Joint to deeply personal songs like Company and On Saturday Afternoons in 1963.

Some seem painful like Last Chance Texaco and Night Train, a story about a young mother fleeing with her baby before the county can take her away.

Then there’s Coolsville, which is hard to describe, much less explain. When she appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1979 as an unknown, she did Chuck E.’s In Love and, daringly, Coolsville, which was not exactly a radio-oriented song. It was one of the greatest musical performances in the history of that show.

But of all the songs on that brilliant debut album, nothing is quite as funky and as cool as Young Blood.

This is a really nice, if grainy video, of a brilliant young artist realizing her early vision. She’s happy, funky and confident.

She went on to make several other brilliant albums, notably Pirates and Flying Cowboys. If you’re curious and don’t know her work, look up Dutch and Woody On The Slow Train To Peking, which is dazzling, and On The Street Where You Live, which is one of the coolest Broadway covers you’ll ever hear.