"Now I walk among them/And I sing to them/And I open up my wrists/And nobody knows My name" —from "Nobody Knows My Name"
The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard, recently released by hipster folkie Rickie Lee Jones, is based on a book called The Words. That's just one letter off from The Word, and indeed, the faithful are sure to notice that Jones' eccentric, heartfelt brand of gutter poetry—half-moaned, half-wailed above a backdrop of junkyard percussion and rough, edgy folk-rock arrangements—bears more than a passing resemblance to the Word of Christ our Lord. Jones and author Lee Cantelon unite here to bring the Words of Life to those who need them, and at its best, their collaboration bears the hallmarks of the very best sermons—it speaks to the centrality of God's Word in our fallen world, and reminds us that only Christ offers hope and healing to the heartbroken.
It can't be emphasized enough, though, that these aren't the words of Christ—at least, not all of them, not completely. Jones isn't reciting Scripture here; these aren't the words of our Lord so much as his ideas, filtered through Cantelon and translated into modern language. It's not unlike those movies that re-imagine Shakespeare's plays in a twenty-first century high school, or on the streets of New York. The basic gist is here, but the particulars, the tropes and trappings, are a little different.
This being Jones, that means that these songs are frequently quirky, often quite moving, and, in some ways, spiritually obtuse. She's a woman whose music has contained its fair share of spiritual seeking over the years, and she and Cantelon both write with a desire to discuss matters of faith in a way that appeals to the non-religious. We're ...1