Rickie Lee Jones in concert earlier this year
Rickie Lee Jones in concert earlier this year

Rickie Lee Jones Meets Walter Becker

I met Donald Fagan when I was working on my second record, I think. He did some synth stuff one of the tracks. It was so cool to meet him, late one night in New York City at a studio where his producer kept their stuff. But Walter wasn't there. I was kind of glad because Walter scared me. His pictures scared me. I often said he looks like the ugliest guy I ever saw. He looks so mean. Really mean.

So, fate arranged that I should learn a lesson about my presumptions, and the terrible things I might say to nobody in particular. My career in 1989 was… How shall I say? Unsure of itself. In search of a lost chord. Waiting in a room with a number.

Walter was on a list of potential producers. I came back from living in France, pregnant, moved to the L.A. area. I met Walter there one afternoon; he drove all the way up to Ojai (60 miles) after flying all from Maui, just for the meeting with me. And as it turned out, he was not so ugly after all. He was rather delicate looking. And he had a soft energy, nothing like what I thought I saw in the pictures. A softy. A recovering addict. Hey, me, too. He knew more about music right off the bat than anyone I had met in a long time. He didn't patronize, he didn't condescend, not even a tiny bit, not for one moment. 

He respected what I had written; he had listened carefully to everything. He had ideas. He didn't say, "Let's do a Marvin Gaye kind of thing on this." Like the previous ridiculous producer candidate had said.

If you don't know what's wrong with saying that, then maybe you should never produce a record. Although nowadays that would be a moot point I guess.

— Abridged from Rickie Lee Jones' poignant tribute to Walter Becker, Rolling Stone, Sept. 3

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