Chuck E.'s In Love

Album: Rickie Lee Jones (1979)
Charted: 18 4


  • The subject of this folksy love song is Chuck E. Weiss, who was good friends with Tom Waits. In 1977, Weiss was working as a dishwasher at the Troubadour in Los Angeles when Rickie Lee Jones performed there. She and Waits became an item, and the three of them spent a lot of time together, often drinking and taking drugs.

    One night, Waits got a call from Weiss, who explained that he was in Denver and had taken up with a girl (who happened to be his distant cousin). When he hung up the phone, Waits told Jones, "Chuck E.'s In Love," and she seized on the title.
  • At the end of this song, Jones reveals that she's the one with whom Chuck E. is in love. This is artistic liberty, as she and Chuck were not an item.
  • In the line, "How come he don't come and P.L.P. with me down at the meter no more?" P.L.P. stands for "public leaning post," a phrase meaning a friend you can count on.
  • This was Jones' first single. She was signed to Warner Bros. Records by their A&R head, Lenny Waronker, and he decided the song was the best choice for her debut.

    Waronker was right; the song became a big hit and established Jones as an emerging artist (she won the Grammy for Best New Artist). The song ended up being by far her biggest hit, as Jones enjoyed a career with far more acclaim than commercial success.
  • This song got a big boost when Jones performed it on Saturday Night Live on April 7, 1979.
  • Many listeners hear this as a happy song, but but Jones described it as "desperate." She told The Guardian: "I saved it at the end, but most of the song is a lament."
  • In the 2015 Rickie Lee Jones documentary The Other Side of Desire, Chuck E. Weiss says, jokingly, "I think she loved me so much that she wrote a song about me."
  • Jones made no attempt to write a similar song when it came time to record her next album, and remarkably, her record company didn't pressure her to do so. That album, Pirates, sold far fewer copies than her debut, but held up very well. "With such a huge hit, the only possibility of me having a lifelong career was to absolutely follow my muse," she said. (quote from More Songwriters on Songwriting)
  • Chuck E. Weiss was also the subject of the Tom Waits song "Jitterbug Boy." Weiss has recorded a few solo albums, including The Other Side Of Town (1981) and Extremely Cool (1998).

Comments: 11

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 7th 1979, Rickie Lee Jones performed "Chuck E's In Love" on the NBC-TV program 'Saturday Night Live'...
    Fifteen days later on April 22nd, 1979 at position #65 {See third post below}.
  • Donna from Ft. Lauderdale, FlA catchy quirky tune. For more fun, check out Rickie Lee Jones and Dr. John's cover of "Makin' Whoopee" and try not to smile!
  • Stewart from Los Angeles, Ca"P.I.P." was short for slang " put ( or place ) in park" when couples dating would park in a remote area make out in the back seat of a car.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 22nd 1979, "Chuck E's In Love" by Rickie Lee Jones entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #65; and on July 1st it peaked at #4 (for 2 weeks) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 6 of those 15 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    Was track one on her debut album, "Rickie Lee Jones", the album reached #3 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and #1 on the Australian RPM Top Albums chart...
    One other track from the album made the Top 100, "Young Blood", it peaked at #40...
    Ms. Jones will celebrate her 60th birthday this coming November 8th, 2014.
  • Leta from Wabasha, MnMary O., this song is a treasure. It's eccentrically written - not poorly written.
  • Mary O. from Omaha, NeThe music and Rickie's vocal range are good. Catchy little tune, that I've always like to sing along to, but I've always wondered if she was on drugs when she performed this song on SNL in the 70's... or even the original recording. The song is poorly written and is hard to follow.
  • Jim from Boston, MaChuck E. Weiss was introduced to Rickie Lee by her then-boyfriend Tom Waits. One night Chuck called Waits' house from Denver, to tell him about his new girlfriend he'd found there. Waits hung up and told RLJ "Chuck E's in love." And that was the song.

    Rickie Lee Jones and Tom Waits, together. The coolest (as in cool cats) couple in history.
  • Steve from Bristol, United KingdomThe 'p.l.p.' in the opening line is a Public Leaning Post, i.e. a friend's shoulder to lean on to pour out your troubles.
  • Nahum from Jerusalem, IsraelHey, does anyone know what "p.I.p" in the opening line stands for? I couldn't find a reasonable acronym for this.
  • Steve from Hollywood, FlThis is the best song ever! Even after all these years, I still feel the emotion I felt the first time I heard it.
  • Ron from Pittsburgh, Pa"Chuck E." is in reference to Chuck E. Weiss, a musician who has played the local LA, CA music scene for many years. I had heard this after moving to LA in the mid eighties and was confirmed in an interview with Rikki Lee.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)

Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)Songwriter Interviews

"Come On Eileen" was a colossal '80s hit, but the band - far more appreciated in their native UK than stateside - released just three albums before their split. Now, Dexys is back.

Taylor Dayne

Taylor DayneSongwriter Interviews

Taylor talks about "The Machine" - the hits, the videos and Clive Davis.

Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee JonesSongwriter Interviews

Rickie Lee Jones on songwriting, social media, and how she's handling Trump.

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired MenSong Writing

Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.

Frankie Valli

Frankie ValliSong Writing

An interview with Frankie Valli, who talks about why his songs - both solo and with The Four Seasons - have endured, and reflects on his time as Rusty Millio on The Sopranos.