Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Dec 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Compassion is a Verb

music_RickieLeeJonesRickie Lee Jones talks politics, panthers, and prayers

What better way to enjoy Valentine’s Day than with a singer who explores the joys and struggles that come with love? And think bigger than superficial pop songs of romantic love. Sure, Rickie Lee Jones sings about lovers—gained and lost—on her latest album, Balm in Gilead, but as usual she casts a wider net, embracing love of family, radical political action, equality, freedom and a deep gratitude for life. Rickie Lee Jones performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at the Rio Theatre. Tickets are available at pulseproductions.net and Streetlight Records.

When I last spoke with Jones, she was working hard to get President Bush out of office. So, I thought I’d begin by asking her about how things have changed—or stayed the same—with Obama in the White House. “I did not vote for Obama,” she reveals.  “He was another guy in a suit, like Bush, brought in from unseen forces at the last minute to usurp the more qualified candidate, Clinton. I was very disappointed that a man was brought in, a man of color, before a woman was given a seat of equality.”

Jones goes on, “I have mixed feelings about celebrating the race of anyone—in terms of their job. If we are going to be non-racist than we must not provide an entire platform based on the celebration of race. We must not take this road … He said from the very beginning he was for the war in Afghanistan. He gave a speech about war when he took the Nobel prize.”

On her new album, Jones recalls the courage of black athletes who lifted their fists in the air with black power salutes during the 1968 Olympics in the song, “The Gospel of Carlos, Norman and Smith.” (Australian athlete Peter Norman stood in solidarity with African-Americans John Carlos and Tommie Smith.) Jones described to me more of the meaning for her in this song: “I was imagining the men and the hard times they had. They could not know how it would become a symbol of courage, to stand up for what you believe. You can see by their bodies they are aware that this is going to cause trouble.”

She goes on, “I was imagining that somehow I was standing there, too, or that at some hard time in my life, he was standing next to me … I have been very keen on the Black Panthers, especially the beautiful Malcolm X, for some time. I love that moment in our history.”

As a companion to courage, Jones’ lyrics express an authentic sense of compassion. She confidently states, “We have to try harder to reach into our hearts with compassion. You have to do it with your neighbor who bothers you, your family. That's where it is hardest.”

Going a little deeper to the source of her music and politics, I ask Jones how she cultivates understanding and compassion. “We should fight every day to keep this beautiful planet. Personally, with a bit of kindness. Socially, be informed. For me,” she says, “it comes with prayer.”

Jones adds, “Be sure about your prayer. You get what you ask for, the greater, clearer your vision the closer it can come to you. It’s best to keep taking in all you can and what rings true is true for you. You are meant to have your own story, and offer your own knowledge to others, not parrot. Fear drives us to religion. And there is solace there, but beware. There are people who will steal you just as you get to the door. Your work is never to judge or exclude others and never, never to harm … Compassion is really a great way to be not only a more helpful person, but a happier person. It needs to be a verb, though.”


Rickie Lee Jones performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $28 in advance, $32 at the door. For more information, call 421-9200 or go to pulseproductions.net. John Steven Malkin is a local musician, writer and host of The Great Leap Forward every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. on Free Radio Santa Cruz, 101.1 FM, freakradio.org.  Rickie Lee Jones is one of 16 musicians featured in the book “Sounds of Freedom” (2005, Parallax Press) by John Steven Malkin.
Photo Credit: Greg Allen

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Pinned Down

Actors shine in true-crime wrestling drama ‘Foxcatcher’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her