Sweet Jane

Cowboy Junkies:  Sweet Jane

Quiz by Sharon Michiko Yoneda

"Jack's in his corset." 

"Jane in her vest. And I am in a rock and roll band." 

"You're waiting for Jimmy down in the alley. You were waiting there for him to come back home."

"You're waiting down on the corner.  And thinking of ways to get back home."

"Anyone who's ever had a dream. Anyone who's ever played a part. Anyone who's ever been lonely. And anyone who's ever split apart."

"Heavenly wine and roses. Seem to whisper to me when you smile." 

 artists:  Cowboy Junkies

songwriter:  Lou Reed

date released:  1970 by The Velvet Underground featuring Lou Reed.  1988 by Cowboy Junkies 

Cowboy Junkies are an alternative rock/country/blues band which hails from Toronto, Canada.  The group was formed in 1985 by Michael, Margo and Peter Timmins (all siblings) and Alan Anton.  The Timmins siblings are descendants of Noah Timmins, the mining prospector for whom the town, Timmins, Ontario, was named.  Another sister of this talented family was Cali Timmins, who began as an actress starring in the production, "Ryan's Hope".

After an inauspicious start, the band received critical attention with their second album, "The Trinity Session", which was recorded in 1987 in the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Toronto.  The single, "Sweet Jane", was later released from the album whose unique mix of musical genres soon won the band a devoted cult following. 

The band was nominated for Group of the Year at the Juno Awards in 1990 and 1991.    

There are several interpretations on the meaning of "Sweet Jane" as written by Lou Reed.  Fortuitously for my purposes, the song is much distilled in the Cowboy Junkies cover.  The street scene opening and "waiting for Jimmy" could possibly allude to a drug transaction as Lou Reed was renowned as a street-savvy artist with chemically-fueled oeuvres.  Is "heavenly widened roses seem to whisper to me"---a mind-blown image? 

In other interpretations, Sweet Jane is a study in contrasts of the roles and images projected between Jane and the artist, as suggested by the line, "anyone who's ever played a part."  Jane is cast as a rather conventional, straight-laced girl, "sweet, sweet Jane," in opposition to the swaggering, suffering artist who has experienced loneliness and relationship blues.  I would argue that one needs to revisit The Velvet Underground's version to really get a hold of the gist of "Sweet Jane".  It is quite plausible that Lou Reed was also describing a street scene.  Anything goes with Lou Reed.