That's what I found myself thinking tonight, when, thanks to a Facebook alert from a friend, tonight I got to see Joe Jackson play the intimate space at Iridium, a taping for a PBS series called "Front & Center."
Jackson, a striking, lanky figure, opened with a few solo piano songs, then was joined by a band that included his original bassist, Graham Maby, who propelled him through his catchy, spiky first hit, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"
|Jackson & Maby Redux (photo credit: David Steven Cohen)|
But it also was a Fast Forward for me personally,
When Jackson released his first album, Look Sharp! I was finishing high school -- and my musical taste had just graduated from the Eagles and Queen and Yes to Springsteen, the Clash, Graham Parker and Elvis Costello. Jackson was in the proto-punk vein, full of high energy snark, tunefulness and wordplay.
And -- by whatever means we found out about concerts and bought tickets back then (radio? a trip to a department store ticket outlet?) -- I got to see him play live a few weeks before I went off to college. (I had to check the below ticket stub for not only the date but the venue. I have no recollection of trekking to the the long-gone Calderone Concert Hall in Hempstead, Long Island. And yes, that says $8.50.)
After a second similar (and excellent) record, the same year, I'm The Man, Jackson left punk behind. (I raved about Beat Crazy in my college newspaper, but it didn't propel it up the charts.)
It feels like he was always unjustly viewed as a wanna-be or also ran -- even though his heritage album of all jazz music, Jumpin Jive, was recorded at the same time Costello recorded his country album Almost Blue - and actually was released first! (That was a confusing year to be a fan of British New Wave LPs). He also had a bigger hit than Costello ever had with "Steppin Out," which coincided with MTV, but he never again had such a huge audience.
In the intervening years, I haven't been a devotee but also didn't drop him; I kept collecting songs I liked, and live albums that included cover versions that he made his own of acts like Steely Dan, Bowie, and the Yardbirds.
And tonight, after playing "my only nostalgic song," the wistful "My Hometown," he said he was going to play the song that was the first one he ever played live -- when he was 16.
Wait. I did some quick math -- that was 9 years before I saw him perform on Long Island -- which itself was THIRTY SIX FRIGGIN YEARS AGO.
Fast Forward, indeed.
The below video isn't from the Iridium show -- but it's the song he played, so it'll have to do until we fast forward to the show airs in January. Hasta la vista.