Joe Jackson is amazing. What’s baffling to me is, if you Google his name, he’s third on the list of famous Joe Jackson’s. Now, I have no problem with Shoeless Joe Jackson being ahead of him. That’s a guy that should be in the baseball Hall of Fame, but the “Blacksox Scandal” ruined his career; but...Michael Jackson’s nutty father? Anyway, the Joe Jackson I’m writing about I have a love/hate relationship with. I love him, for all the amazing tunes. I dig his albums “I’m the Man,” “Look Sharp,” and “Night and Day.” Perhaps you know the hits: Is She Really Going Out With Him, Steppin’ Out, You Can’t Get What You Want, It’s Different For Girls, Sunday Papers, Breaking us in Two, Fools in Love, and so many other great songs the radio has unfortunately ignored.
The “hate” part of the love/hate, is that he’s so difficult when it comes to autographs. Once when I got him at the soundcheck of one concert, his manager said he was in a bad mood because he had hurt his back. There were about 25 people waiting, and nobody noticed him walking right by us, carrying clothes over his shoulder. I asked for his autograph, and he signed my Night and Day album (which had earlier been signed by his long-time, amazing bassist Graham Maby, and Sue Hadjopoulos, who plays bongos and other assorted instruments on it). I engaged in a conversation with him, that was rather one-sided. He just looked at me with that sourpuss of a face, not responding to anything. I asked for another album to be signed. He said nothing, just stuck the pen back at me without signing anything else. Now, other people noticed he signed an album for me, and they came rushing over. He didn’t sign for anybody else.
The next time I saw him at a different venue, a few years later, he walked by me. He looked angry, and even though nobody else was around, I was afraid to ask for his signature. I just froze. He walked backstage and I missed my chance (at least it was an amazing show). After the show, I saw one guy with an album of his called Jumpin’ Jive. It’s an album of all big-band covers he did. The guy told me, “Jackson didn’t want to sign it for me. He said, ‘I didn’t write these songs! They’re cover tunes. Why would you ask me to sign something I didn’t write?” It was a question that baffled us both, since it is an album he put out. The guy was ticked about it, and I offered to buy the album for $50, or trade him for one of my other signed pieces. Sensing I was really into that, he figured maybe he had a cool item, and turned down my offer.
The third time, at the same venue as the first show, I asked for his autograph. He said, “I’ll only sign one thing for you.”
I had 4 of his CDs with me. I left the albums at home, so I wouldn’t be stuck carrying them during the show. He signed one for me, and I started asking him questions about the “Night and Day II” album. I was shocked to see he got Marianne Faithful to sing on a track (she sounded absolutely horrid on it). Again, a one-sided conversation, where he said nothing to me.
During that show, a guy tried taking photos from the front row. Jackson grabbed the microphone stand, and kept threatening to hit the guy if he continued taking photos. Ouch.
So, it had been about 8 years since I last saw him, and he played a sold-out show here in San Diego. Unfortunately, the friend that called and asked me if I wanted to go, was bringing a chick (side note: no offense if any chicks are out there reading this). When women are involved, and it’s a dating situation, you don’t want to bore them standing around asking the artist to sign items. So, even though it was a venue that would’ve been easy, we didn’t try.
The show was great, as he did the unusual thing of opening for himself. He came out with just a piano, and did some songs with just him on the keys. His amazing, powerful ballad “Real Men” and a cover of The Beatles “Girl,” were both treats.
Later, the band came out (with Maby at the bass again). The show was terrific, especially a smokin’ hot version of the Television song “Hear no Evil.” (which I highly recommend you buy on his new record, or download for $1.29).
I decided to Google, to see if anybody had gotten his autograph on this tour. I was surprised to see he was signing, but begrudingly. Watch this video, to see how he snaps at people asking their names before signing (something a lot of artists do, to assure you won’t try to sell on eBay):