There may only one true sin on the Web, and that's to be out of the know. It's hard to understate the sheer humiliation that comes with emailing the video you just know will simply change the life of the person your sending it to—or at least, you know, amuse the hell out of him—and then getting back some variation of "Everybody on the Web has seen this, you moron. Even my grandmother's 87-year-old bridge partner sent me this one. Why don't you email it to last Tuesday, when I might have cared?"
Still, agony is just another door for opportunity to come marching right through, and, since this is a particularly large opening, I've decided to face the fear head-on, borrowing a page from that old NBC slogan attempting to make their summer reruns fresh: "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you."
And so, full of hope that my readers have all just recently discovered this Interweb thing, I give you the first of our Notes from the Department of Last Tuesday: The awesomeness that is "The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard," by Rickie Lee Jones, which came out in February, and which I'm only now getting 'round to.
You, though, should get around to this thing right this moment. In fact, give a listen now to "Falling Up," the first single (don't look at the video, which is a little meh):
While “Falling Up” is undeniably catchy, it’s not one of the record’s highlights. The album, which started out as an attempt to do a spoken-word recording of The Words, a book that is a collection of Christ’s words as set down in the Bible, became much more: Jones asked to sing, rather than say, the portion of the book she’d been asked to read. She then on the spot recorded two of the strongest songs on the album, “Nobody Knows My Name” and “Where I Like It Best,” singing over a pre-recorded musical track. On the album these are presented just as they were originally recorded, one take, with Jones singing her own lyrics using text from The Words as a starting point.
Despite its origins, “The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard” isn’t a particularly religious record; in many places, it’s against organized religion, in ways that are sometimes unfair; on “Where I Like It Best,” she’s pretty much saying that all those people who pack megachurches on Sunday morning are hypocrites, which is a little much. Still, “Where I Like It Best”, a kind of reworking of The Lord’s Prayer, is also one of the most beautiful and moving bits of performance I’ve ever heard. I’m telling you, check this baby out.