Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones' story starts off like almost any modern day Nashville starlet; only she left home at an early age in the 1970s to waitress in Los Angeles instead of Music City. And rather than hooking up with Harlan Howard or Kris Kristofferson, she bonded with a young Tom Waits who shared her adoration for jazzy folk songs, gripping narratives and beatnik styled live monologues. She busted out with her self-titled debut in 1979 and hit high on the charts with the jazzy R&B folk pop hit "Chuck E's in Love," a rhythmically constructed ditty about singer/songwriter Chuck E. Weiss (an obsession of hers who would find his way into many more of her lyrics). Although she has been compared to Joni Mitchell time and time again, Jones' songs are much more rooted in free-form arrangements (as much as free-form can be arranged) as well as elastic vocal inflections that exude more style and grace than vocal gymnastics. But she's also quite the powerful balladeer as heard on the romantic and wistful "On Saturday Afternoons In 1963."