The First Lady of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, is back in town (and lord knows we loved her lots last time). She’ll be hitting the 9:30 Club stage tonight and lucky for you, dear reader, we managed to snag a pair of last minute tickets! TO WIN: All you have to do is comment below with your favorite Wanda song & why. We’ll pick the one we <3 the most by 4PM. GOOD LUCK!!
A complete history of Wanda Jackson’s lengthy career (more than half a century) and discography (31 studio albums and counting) could take up a whole book. Before Jackson takes to the stage at 930 Club tomorrow night, here are the highlights.
by: Catherine McCarthy
Hard Headed Woman
To be in the presence of Wanda Jackson is to feel very, very lucky. She’s grown older, but the enigmatic stage presence she exudes in early television footage of her band is ever-present. Last February, before taking to the main stage at the Black Cat, she made her way across the Red Room bar and drew the attention of everyone there, whether or not they were aware of who she was. At five feet, she seemed much taller, teetering in heels and wearing her signature white fringed suit. Flanked by band members, you could almost hear a record scratch coming out of the jukebox. Was this the same woman saluting the air in a signed black and white photo behind the bar?
THE FAIRY GODSON
Jackson told the Washington Post’s David Malitz last year that when Jackson’s management contacted Jack White about performing a duet, he said no. “No, I wouldn’t be interested in doing a duet with her,” she recalled him saying. “But I tell you what I would be interested in is recording her.”
And so, White lent his Midas touch to Jackson’s career. Continuously touring for more than five decades and recording and performing with rock legends, Jackson experienced a wave of appreciation from European revivalists starting in the ’80s. Jackson entered the studio with White just after performing in DC last year, the result is a rollicking album of fresh material and covers that touch the old (Bob Dylan’s “Thunder on the Mountain,” which he personally suggested to White) and the new (Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”).
Jackson and Jack White filmed this video for their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Thunder on the Mountain” in an old vinyl-pressing factory in Nashville.
We don’t just mean the enticing dark curl across her forehead that’s been a trademark since her teenage days. We’re talking about the silken white fringe that shimmers on her arms and hips when she stomps, screams or sashays across the stage. Diminutive but never demure, Jackson wore clingy skirts, blood red lipstick and sequins when her counterparts stuck to sundresses and pearls. Jackson recently told The New York Times’ Horacio Silva, (http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/fringe-artist/) 的 was always a bit hippy, so those siesta skirts with full petticoats didn稚 look good on me. And at my tallest, I was 5-foot-1, so cowboy boots were out of the question. Sometimes a girl just needs heels.”
Did we mention that she dated Elvis Presley? Did you ever date Elvis Presley? When he looked like this?
So she toured with and dated Elvis and Jack White produced her new album. Mega-fan Bob Dylan has called her “An atomic bomb in lipstick.” But the main man in her life is Wendell Goodman. This year marks 50 years of marriage and a business partnership. The former IBM programmer is her manager.
Jackson became a born-again Christian several decades ago, and some of her albums reflect her passion for gospel music and her unwavering beliefs. She continues to throw in a song or two with religious overtones at her shows amongst the old favorites and newest work. Ever the raconteur, she paused in the middle of her Black Cat set last year to tell the audience about her born-again experience. She was met with some audible groans and a minor exodus to the bar counters and restrooms. Completely unfazed, she continued her story with sparkling eyes and a wide grin, before launching into a gospel tune. While her determination to share her personal experience with fans may be met with resistance (including my own, initially), it’s clear this pioneer of women in rock and roll could care less if the audience won’t indulge her in a bit of proselytizing. She’s dealt with worse. Despite having her own radio program and recording with Capitol Records’ Hank Thompson and the Brazos Valley Boys while still in high school, she was told by Capitol, “Women don’t sell records,” when she asked them to sign her to the label. They later changed their tune. Her own faith in her ability to wow a crowd with her unique sound inspires to this day.
Wanda Jackson and the Party Timers perform “Hard-Headed Woman” on Town Hall Party in 1958.
Wanda Jackson perform “Funnel of Love” with Jack White and the Third Man Band on Conan last month, originally recorded in 1961.