The first time I saw/heard Grace Jones was on ABC-TV’s “Countdown”, when they played the video clip for “Walking In The Rain”. I remember going to school the next day, and there was much hilarity and joking among my 16 year old school mates about her. In a country town, where Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel were the bands of choice for teenagers, there wasn’t room enough for “Miss Grace Jones”. And yet for me, and a few others, she was the most amazing performer we had seen on “Countdown” in a number of years.
I’ve followed her career over the years, have bought all her records, consumed her many TV appearances via Youtube, and have seen her perform live a couple of times. And so when I saw a new documentary film about her life was showing today in Sydney, instantly, I bought a ticket. The film, recorded over a decade, is probably two-thirds concert appearances, and one-third a series of life-insights. As you might expect, we see Grace in Paris, enjoying the high life. But we also see Grace visiting family in Jamaica. They’re the bits I found most interesting. The bits where Grace no longer “looks like Grace”. Although she’s clearly larger than life in Jamaica, too, you begin to think about who Grace Jones would be if her family hadn’t moved to the United States when she was a teenager.
And those concert performances? She’s 70 years old now, has a more mature figure, a deeper voice, and remains amazing. The one song and performance I really connected with, which I hadn’t previously, was the song “Williams Blood”.
When she was seventeen
She married a Preacher Man
And she settled down
In a little part of town
Followed him all around
Having little babies
Singing in a little Church
In a little ghost townShe’s so happy
(I don’t want to keep up I can’t keep up)
She’s so happy, keeping up
(I don’t wanna keep up, keeping up with the Jones’)Finally she told me
Grandpa Dan travelled
Playing on the road
With Nat King Cole
And he womanised
Staying up all night
Cruisin’up around the town
From town to town to townWhy don’t you be a Jones like your Sister and your brother Noel
When are you gonna be a Jones your just like your Dad
God bless his soulI’ve got the William’s blood in me
I’ve got the William’s blood in me
As much of the film deals with the strictness and family violence of her father, this song is all about her mother’s family, and suggest that’s where her “out there” character comes from. There’s an amazing piece in the film where her mother songs, opera-style, at church in Kingston. You get the impression Grace was very much her mother’s daughter.
Though I enjoyed the film very much, I still feel as though I really don’t really get to know “The Real Grace”. With the exception of a few scenes in Jamaica, she always seems to be performing. But maybe that’s just the film? Or maybe that is “The Real Grace”. Either way, I’m still a massive fan.
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