The singer is visiting Paris, perhaps for the first time. He is young but not a kid, and to be here is clearly a long-held ambition realized, something that’s a little bit of a wonder even to himself. This is me, he thinks. In Paris! Me! Everything he sees reminds him of the books he’s read and the art he’s admired, and he knows he should be appreciating this on some deep intellectual level but he’s frankly just too excited:
And here comes Les Miserables
It’s one of my favorite novels
But it’s so serious
Hope it’s not too rude
But I’m not in the mood
So he proposes a toast instead: “Jump Jump,” jump around and have some fun to honor Rimbaud and Vincent Van Gough and the life-affirming power of their art. But also “jump” as in “jumping off,” of using them as an inspiration to create your own art, honoring them that way:
To the poets and verse
To the ones who came first
Here is a healthy respect for standing on the shoulders of giants, but also an appreciation of the necessity of taking a leap of faith off those shoulders. Which is just such a cool thing to write a song about.
Garland Jeffreys is another of my heroes from the seventies who never hit the big time but also never stopped touring and recording, which makes him still one of my heroes (see Elliott Murphy). I saw him twice, once in the mid-eighties, once in the early-nineties, and both times he rocked his heart out to a small though supportive crowd. Garland’s first album, Ghost Writer, is a classic, with many essential tracks, including the title song, “New York Skyline,” “Wild in the Streets,” and the wonderful fantasia on Latino national themes “Spanish Town.” He had a big hit in Europe with “Matador,” though I think “Livin’ for Me” is the more radio-friendly song. “Jump Jump” is from a 1981 album called Escape Artist where Garland recruited two members of the Rumour and two members of the E Street Band and went for a a bigger stadium rock sound. It doesn’t completely come off, but I love it anyway. He can still uncork a good one now and then, such as “Coney Island Winter” from just a few years ago. You can find most of these on YouTube, uploaded by Garland himself with gracious, self-effacing but proud notes. I’ll bet in his heart he still harbors hopes of the big time.