Joshua Kadison, “Jessie” and Trailers by the Sea

When I wrote about the three Jimmy Webb songs recorded by Glen Campbell last summer (link here), I had a plan to at some point take a journey around the 50 States of the USA in song – Wichita Lineman was set in Kansas, Galveston in Texas and By The Time I Get To Phoenix in Arizona. Off the top of my head, and just for starters, there is also Anchorage by Michelle Shocked and Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd both set in States that start with the letter “A”, so no shortage of material.

One song that I discovered by accident is one that I very much associate with the State of Nevada. I don’t know what I was doing in 1993 when this song was released as I don’t remember it from then at all, but a good few years ago when we were on one of those family holidays where entertainment is laid on at night, first for the kids and then for the worn-out parents, a chap with a guitar got up and performed some very acceptable covers. I knew most of the songs he played, but not this one, and it really struck a cord. Jessie by Joshua Kadison is very much a “story song” and I was really touched by the narrator’s tale of how every time he got back on his feet again, Jessie would call with the promise that this time it would be different, this time the dream would come true. The dream was to have a trailer by the sea, drink tequila, collect seashells…. and Jessie was an expert at “painting pictures of how it’s gonna be”.

Jessie by Joshua Kadison:

Did he just humour her or did he yet again succumb to the promises? Who knows but interesting to have the tables turned whereby it is the female who is making all the promises and not the male, as is usually the case (in a song). As for the State of Nevada, Jessie calls from a “phone booth in Vegas” which conjures up images of the Sin City side of the self-billed Entertainment Capital of the World – It’s very late, Jessie is possibly a little inebriated and obviously tired of whatever she does there to earn her living, so resorts to what we girls often do at such times, contacts an old boyfriend. Surrounding the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is the Nevada desert so not surprisingly she dreams of something quite different, a beach with white sand and seashells.

I really knew nothing of Joshua Kadison before hearing this song, and even with the resources of the world wide web at my fingertips still know very little other than that he was born in Los Angeles in 1963 to an actress mother, started playing piano and writing songs at the age of 12 and before releasing the album “Painted Desert Serenade” in 1993 dated the actress Sarah Jessica Parker (of Sex And The City fame). They apparently broke up before he recorded this song but of course there was speculation that the song was about her. I doubt it however as SJP, or rather her alter-ego Carrie Bradshaw, is a bit of a hero of mine and there is no way her Manolo Blahniks would navigate a beach anywhere, nor would she have a cat called Moses. Just sayin’.

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Family holidays can ironically be quite hard work, but there is often some time at the end of the day to unwind with your tipple of choice and perhaps listen to some live music. This is the song I remember best from that particular holiday but looking back over the years just about every holiday had a memorable musical moment – Another idea for a new series has developed it seems!

Until next time….

Jessie Lyrics
(Song by Peter Fitch Grant)

From a phone booth in Vegas Jessie calls at five a.m.
To tell me how she’s tired of all of them
She says, “Baby, I’ve been thinking about a trailer by the sea
We could go to Mexico; you, the cat and me
We’ll drink tequila and look for seashells
Now doesn’t that sound sweet”
Oh Jessie you always do this every time I get back on my feet

Jessie paint your pictures
About how it’s gonna be
By now I should know better
Your dreams are never free
But tell me all about our little trailer by the sea
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me

She asked me how the cat’s been
I say “Moses, he’s just fine”
But he used to think about you, all the time
We finally took your pictures down off the wall
Jessie, how do you always seem to know just when to call
She says “Get your stuff together, bring Moses and drive real fast”
And I listened to her promise
“I swear to God this time it’s gonna last”

Jessie paint your pictures
About how it’s gonna be
By now I should know better
Your dreams are never free
But tell me all about our little trailer by the sea
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me

I’ll love you in the sunshine
Lay you down in the warm, white sand
And who knows maybe this time
Things will turn out just the way you planned

Jessie paint your pictures
About how it’s gonna be
By now I should know better
Your dreams are never free
But tell me all about our little trailer by the sea
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me
Oh Jessie you can always sell any dream to me

Postscript:

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Sarah Jessica Parker aka Carrie Bradshaw aka Mrs Ferris Bueller!