The two-time Grammy Award-winner Rickie Lee Jones looks back on an eventful life filled with desperate chances and impossible triumphs, an adventure story of a girl who beat the odds and grew up to become one of the most legendary artists of her time.
...all her talk of magic, kismet and other unseen forces is itself a kind of hocus-pocus. The Rickie Lee Jones presented in Last Chance Texaco — and she occasionally refers to herself in the third person throughout the book — did not take shape by chance but by the very real power of her personality and the strength of her artistry. In this raw and roving life story, Jones depicts a child who recognized her humanity and worth even when others wouldn’t ...
The family’s disorder is mirrored in Jones’s storytelling, which leaps across memories like a needle on a scratched LP. Her ragged sentences can hardly keep up ... Jones ran away from home throughout her adolescence, and her accounts of the dangers she faced on the road — mainly in the form of older, predatory men — can be difficult to read ... In a book about the past, Jones has no problem moving on. It’s a neat trick.
I shouldn’t be surprised that Jones manages to carry her originality, intimacy, and volcanic expressiveness into book form. Everything about this artist speaks of facing challenges—a peripatetic and potholed childhood, a high-risk hippie youth searching for belonging, a nagging addiction problem—and, ultimately and knowingly, triumphing ... an impassioned and cinematic trip through Jones’s eventful life ... It is a vivid trip ... Jones also conveys, with unblinking and judicial honesty, her fierce, moody mother, her defiant older sister, and her older brother Danny, whose motorcycle accident leaves him, like two other men in her family, with only one leg. In the early sections of the memoir, I wondered if Jones was dodging self-examination by focusing on her family history—until it becomes clear that Jones is revealing herself through them; the Jones family stories, steeped in American optimism and failure, are indeed about her own burdens ... Fortunately, in the process of giving context and clues to so many of her songs, Jones never robs them of mystery. In a way, the book, which is filled with many of the syntactic idiosyncrasies and the jokiness of her lyrics, only adds breadth to her mythology.
Almost all of Last Chance Texaco concerns Jones’ peripatetic upbringing ... Like watching a boilerplate horror movie, the reader wants to yell out to the hapless ingenue. But she opened every door, and she never flinched ... Jones’ career may seem a remnant of the ‘80s, and in fact she completely ignores the 10 or so albums she’s released since then. Still, she’s a storyteller.