Classic Albums: Girl at Her Volcano

Is there anything cornier than sharing the fact that certain music makes us cry?

It was the night before Christmas and Cathy, my wife, was playing music after our lovely dinner. This year, our entire clan of 4 was present, Oh Happy Days, so Jess and Nicole were also sending in requests to DJ Cathy. After traveling through some contemporary genres, things took a decidedly country turn which meant a trip down heartbreak highway was practically inevitable. And so it came to be — we adopted “sad songs” as our new theme.

I was content being a passenger up until now but offered, “Do you want to hear a song that always makes me cry?” [footnote 1]

“Sure!” was the resounding response (yes, my family humors me).

“Cath, play ‘Rainbow Sleeves’ by Rickie Lee Jones. It’s on a record called Girl at Her Volcano. The song was written by Tom Waits back when they were together.”

“I didn’t know they were a thing?”

I responded by sharing this image:

“You have to listen to the lyrics” I offered. And as I did, I let a few warm tears slide down my cheeks:

You used to dream yourself away each night
To places that you’ve never been
On wings made of wishes that you whispered to yourself
Back when every night the moon and you would sweep away
To places that you knew you would never get the blues

Now whiskey gives you wings to carry each one of your dreams
And the moon does not belong to you
But I believe that your heart keeps young dreams
Well, I’ve been told to keep from ever growing old
And a heart that has been broken will be stronger when it mends

Don’t let the blues stop your singing
Darling, you only got a broken wing
Hey, you just hang on to my rainbow
Hang on to my rainbow
Hang on to my rainbow sleeves

Girl at Her Volcano was released as a 10″ EP in 1983 and it is, by a wide margin, my favorite record from Rickie Lee Jones. There are some stunning covers including Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”, “Under The Boardwalk”, and a very live “My Funny Valentine” where Rickie Lee’s voice sounds transformed into a member of the brass family as she rings out notes bell-like.

Back in my record store shopping days, which will return post-vaccine, if I saw a copy of Girl at Her Volcano in good condition I’d buy it so that I always had a spare copy or two at home to give away to visitors. My current copy was given to me by a very good friend.

  1. Not crying is even cornier.