Jackie Blue by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils (A&M, 1975)

A hit song should propel your career, not kill it. But that’s pretty much what happened with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils when Jackie Blue reached #3 in 1975. This song owes itself more to Curtis Mayfield than the Allman Brothers, so those looking for some down home Southern rock were baffled by this piece of R&B influenced pop.

Producer Glyn Johns discovered drummer Larry Lee singing the chorus in a rehearsal while OMD was recording their second LP, It’ll Shine When It Shines. He had them rework it and quickly record it figuring he had a hit on his hands. And he was right. But it didn’t quite fit the rest of the band’s repertoire. So those hearing this song were baffled when they had nothing else that sounded like it.

Originally the tune was about a guy Larry knew who dealt drugs. Johns had him change it to a chick (see Hall & Oates’ Rich Girl) to make it more appealing. Now it was about a mysterious hippie girl or something. They made the lyrics so vague, I’m sure what this chick’s problem is. Let’s try to figure it out:

Ooh-hoo-hoo, Jackie blue
lives her life from inside of a room
Hides a smile when she’s wearin’ a frown
ooh Jackie, you’re not so down

You like your life in a free-form style
You’ll take an inch but you’d love a mile
There never seems to be quite enough
Floating around to fill your lovin’ cup

So it sounds at first that this is about a spoiled little girl who complains about everything, does whatever she wants, nothing is ever good enough, wants the world and throws a tantrum when she doesn’t get it. Ok, next.

Ooh-hoo-hoo, Jackie Blue
What’s a game, girl, if you never lose?
Ask a winner and you’ll probably find
Ooh Jackie, they’ve lost at some time

Don’t try to tell me that you’re not aware
Of what you’re doing and that you don’t care
You say it’s easy, just a natural thing
Like playing music but you never sing

Ok, she still sounds like a baby. But he hints that she may be faking something. Could she just be a little nuts?

Ooh-hoo-hoo, Jackie Blue
Making wishes that never come true
Going places where you’ve never been
Ooh Jackie, you’re going again

Then a nice little slide guitar solo by Randle Chowning. That guy gets more out of playing a single string than anyone I’ve heard, except maybe The Edge.

Ooh-hoo-hoo, Jackie Blue
Lives her life from inside of a room
Makes you think that her life is a drag
Ooh Jackie, what fun you have had

Hmmm, now it sounds like she’s either crazy, a pathological liar or a junkie. And if you bought the 45, that’s the end of the lyrics. But it’s not the end of the song. The album version has this additional verse & chorus which was edited out of the single release.

Ooh-hoo-hoo, Jackie Blue
Lives a dream that can never come true
Making love is like siftin’ through sand
Ooh Jackie, it slips through your hand

Only if you’re using Vaseline…that’s what she said.

Every day, in your indigo eyes
I watch the sun set but I don’t see it rise
Moonlight and stars in your strawberry wine
You’d take the world but you won’t take the time

OK, my vote is junkie. A very selfish one. Betcha she hogs all the yam-yam for herself and never shares.

I’m actually disappointed reading these lyrics. I’d rather go back to the days of 1975, hearing this song stick out on the radio (it peaked #3 between Freddie Fender & the Carpenters). I don’t have a specific memory for it, save for being at a classmate’s party who lived in a battery of yellow apartment complexes in the middle of a field with nary a tree around. The songs just feels like it was a part of my 70s experience. Don’t know who is Jackie is and why she’s so blue, but what she’s had.

Here is the 45 version:

And here is the original full length performed on the Old Grey Whistle Test:

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4 Comments

  1. Kris

     /  February 17, 2013

    I always thought this was a Todd Rundgren song when I was younger. Thanks for posting the liver version. Those guys are rockin the total current hipster style.

    Reply
  2. Chet Driscoll

     /  February 12, 2015

    It makes sense that the chick’s a junkie, probably turning tricks to support her habit.

    Reply
  3. Why did they have a picture of an old lady in a bright blue dress or top in the paper sleeve cover of the single of this song? I only saw this once, at my cousin’s house, but I always remembered it. This always made me think the song was about an older woman who’d wasted her life and regretted it, but who also had enjoyed herald while doing it.

    Reply
  4. Enjoyed herself, I meant.

    Reply

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