This weekend past, two friends celebrated birthdays. They’re both a good bit younger than I am, but that didn’t bother me. After all, a lot of people are younger than I.
This weekend past was the 25th anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall came down. Yes, a quarter century since the end of the Cold War. But that didn’t bother me, either. It was a good day, full of joy, and easily remembered.
What did bother me was that, this weekend past, Rickie Lee Jones was also celebrating a birthday.
Her 60th birthday.
Sorry. Rickie Lee Jones is not 60 years old. Nope. Can’t happen. Can’t be true.
Rickie Lee Jones is twenty-five years old, always has been. Always will be. I refuse to concede the notion that she ages along with the rest of us, even if it means that I am now more than twice her age.
It’s not that I’m an avid RLJ fan. Yes, I do have most everything she’s recorded, but that’s it. I listen, I like, but I don’t “follow” or read up on her projects, her life. Nor do I have a mad crush on her or anything; I don’t, and never have. In fact, it is precisely because these things are not true that she remains unchanged in my mind. Were I to follow her career more closely, I would have been exposed to photos and interviews in which it was apparent that, yes, she’s no longer twenty-five years old.
But I don’t.
And so, RLJ is forever that smoke-filled-saloon-chanteuse, that beret-wearing finger-snapping retro-beatnik I first heard back in the ’70s. Rickie, the queen of slide-singing and the vocal fry, is the sound of my youth reverberating across the decades. Other voices from my past have aged along with me, but not RLJ. Her music continues to make me smile, make me cry; it fills my lungs with youthful air and lifts aged weights from my shoulders. I cannot have her music on in the background, for her voice always creeps forward, steals my attention, and holds me rapt as she sings her bittersweet tales.
So, happy birthday, Ms. Jones. Happy 35th 25th birthday.