The Real End

the mazagine

Meet My New Love: “The Real End” by Ricki Lee Jones from the album “The Magazine” released in September 1984.

How We Met: My big sister, Lonnice (sounds like Lon + niece), had a pop collection to die for and during one of my 3 or 4 hour listening / singing sessions I stumbled across “The Magazine.” I asked my sister where in the world she got THIS and she said she was introduced to Ricki’s music from one of her girlfriends. Well I had never heard anything like it; her stuff blew my mind when I was a kid and still does. It was my first major introduction to a singer that played piano (so well) and wrote her own stuff; it carried a lot of weight and was so impressive to me.

Getting to Know You: Born in Chicago, Illinois on November 8, 1954, Ricki Lee Jones came from vaudevillian grandparents and a father who was a musician and singer songwriter; super artistic folk. Ricki turned out to be a vocalist, musician, songwriter and producer. Her career has lasted for more than three decades and her prolific body of work features a wide variety of musical styles including rock, R&B, blues, pop, soul, and jazz standards.

Ricki Lee Jones released her first album (self titled) in 1979. She won a Grammy in 1980 for “Best New Artist” and was also nominated for Best Album, Best Pop Vocal, Best Rock Vocal, and Best New Song (you will know her probably from her first major hit, “Chuck E’s in Love”). Jones has 16 albums to her credit and is still creating! She is set to release a 17th album entitled, “The Other Side of Desire” June 2015.

In addition to “The Magazine” I’d recommend you to check out her album “Ghostyhead” from 1997. I find I am often entranced by her interesting speak-singing, raw, real way of delivering a song for example: “We Belong Together” from her “Pirates” album

For her complete discography visit: (click in the top right corner for a drop down box)

For a more extensive bio visit:


Endearing Qualities: There is so much to love about this song. Initially, I dug the groove followed by the lyrics. The all too familiar question repeated throughout that we’ve all asked “What’s the matter, don’t you want me?” hits home but what really won me over was how the piece increasingly builds the closer you get to the end. The horn parts are spot on (orchestral arrangements by Johnny Mandel) and very well done and I find it hard to not clap, snap and rock my body by the 3:50 minute mark. The production is like pop meets big band then heads to Broadway for a show.

First Impressions:  

Sooo?  What do you think?  Post your comments below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Damn Everything but the Circus

Meet My Love: Caveat: If you can’t take hearing the words, “God damn” you’d better wait until my next post. Damn Everything But The Circus from the album Grace in Gravity, Green Linnet / Elektra Entertainment, 1992 Jonatha Brooke, vocals /acoustic guitar, composer Jennifer Kimball, vocals

How We Met: Clarence Smith, one of my best friends, introduced me to this fantastic duo in 1993 while we were both teachers at Paseo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO.  We have followed them, then Jonatha when she went solo in 1994, and have been devoted fans ever since.  I’ve not met too many friends I am as musically compatible with as I am with Mr. Smith and with the exception of a few small quibbles over Steely Dan and Prince we usually see eye to eye 😉  well done Clarence!

Getting to Know You: Jonatha Brooke is a singer-songwriter born in Illinois whose music is classified as Folk, Pop, Rock.  I classify it as wonderful to listen to and well crafted.  Jonatha also plays the guitar as well as sings; not easy  to pull off my friends but she manages very well.   In 1981, she teamed up with Jennifer Kimball when they were both attending Amherst College in Massachusetts and after two releases, Grace in Gravity and The Angel in the House, went their separate ways in 1994; unfortunate for us.  For more background about both albums as discussed by Jonatha visit her website: Jonatha eventually started her own record label, Bad Dog Records in 1999,  so producer was then added to her previous list of achievements (singer, songwriter, composer and arranger). I read that Jonatha believes the only way to acquire and keep an audience is through extensive touring which she continues to date.

Endearing Qualities: I think Jonatha is terribly adept at making her melodies and lyrics sound as if they were born at the very same time.    In this piece the extra bonus of a beautifully written countermelody helps to drive home the sincere desire of a young girl to get the hell outta her small town.   The lyrics validate what I assume is a stereotypical sentiment shared by many youngsters aspiring to do more than let their small town suck’em dry of any hopes or aspirations they may have; and with the ringmaster telling her she’ll “be magic” why not take this opportunity before it and life passes her by?  Unfortunately, I’m not so sure she’ll be happy with the reality of life in the circus considering it doesn’t sound any more grand what with the animal smells, flea bitten horses, rain and holey fishnets Brooke mentions. Jonatha and Jennifer’s voices are so well matched and they are brilliant at skillfully delivering  harmonies and unisons (often the most difficult thing to do vocally) effortlessly and completely in tune; a feat these days to say the least.  Once you listen to this you may wonder how some of the bits being passed off and heralded as good music receive any airplay at all.  This is top-notch artistry. For a much more in-depth biography visit:

First Impressions: What do you think?  Post your comments below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Waking

Meet My Love:  The Waking from the album Nightmoves, Concord Records, 2007 Performed in Jools, Holland Kurt Elling , vocalist  //  Rob Amster, acoustic bass

How We Met: I discovered Kurt Elling through my soul sister, Kellie.  Thank you dearheart!

Getting to Know You: Kurt Elling is well known for his wide repertoire, lush baritone timbre and for being masterful at the art of vocalese; the act of adding text to the improvised solos of jazz artists.  However,  with “The Waking” he also shows off his songwriting versatility by creating and setting a most endearing melody to the text of Theodore Roethke’s 1953 poem (special note:  the collection of poetry which included “The Waking” won Roethke the Pulitzer Prize in 1954).

Endearing Qualities: Elling gracefully demonstrates exactly what the voice is capable of  when used to its fullest potential.  I am often lifted up and out of whatever funk I might find myself in when I listen to this song.  It is executed so well; painfully beautiful.  The bass player must also be mentioned for providing such an incredible foundation of support for Kurt to sail so smoothly, well done Mr. Amster 🙂   Kurt Elling has been given a tremendous gift and I think in his hands, has become a gift to us all.

First Impressions: What do you think?  Post your comments below.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments