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.

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.


    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)


  2. This song has a nice feel to it. My wife remembers it and said it was a bit of a hit…Not what I’d pay to see/hear but if they were playing at my whisky club I certainly wouldn’t complain to the manager.


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