It’s a Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate composition and another Queensryche single that clocks in over 5 minutes. It’s basically a love song and a road song rolled into one, but devoid of clichés and overused words. On the Japanese edition of “Empire”, Chris DeGarmo said that the song was inspired by “being on the road for a very long time and Geoff Tate was thinking about a woman he loves”.
In the December 1990 issue of Metal Edge, Geoff Tate basically said “”Jet City Woman is about a woman from Seattle.” Wikipedia tells the story that it was written about Geoff Tate’s first wife, who was a flight attendant
The song has so many mood changes that are absent from so many of today’s “hits”. Hell, the first 43 seconds of the song is all instrumental. In the FFDP/Shinedown world they would be into their second chorus by then.
0.00 to 0.07
The simple bass and high hats groove has me nodding my head almost instantly. It is not made for radio, but a radio hit it became. It’s interesting how Eddie Jackson employs picks for the studio and uses his fingers for performing live. Using a pick, just brings out the mids so that the bass line stands out.
0.08 to 0.25
Then Chris DeGarmo comes in with a little lead break.
0.26 to 0.43
Then Michael Wilton comes in, with power chords crashing all around and the energy of the song picks up, with a lead break full of bluesy double stop bends. Check out the progressive way Scott Rockenfield drums this simple 4/4 section, especially towards the end as it phases from the intro into the verse.
I’m hooked by know.
0.44 to 1.17
Then the verses come. The arpeggiated chords with the B and E as open strings, showed me a different way to play. Years later, I would learn that this method is something that Alex Lifeson employed a lot in Rush. Anyway, hearing the clean tone arpeggios, over the intro bass guitar line is familiar and new. Rockenfield makes the verses rock when they shouldn’t. For any drummer in the scene, listen and learn.
Every time I leave
You say you won’t be there.
And you’re always there.
The road songs are a dime a dozen. The best ones, live forever. “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Long Cold Winter” and “Turn The Page” are a few that come to mind immediately.
1.18 to 1.33
The last word of the verse leads into the pre-chorus. Brilliant
Over a simple chord progression, I love the way DeGarmo and Wilton employ octaves to enhance this section. I never used power chord octaves prior to learning “Jet City Woman”.
What you do to me!
Waited so long I can’t wait another day without you.
1.34 to 1.52
There’s so much to learn as a guitarist in this chorus, like the phrasing of the power chords, the use of octaves to enhance the melody of the music and act as a counterpoint to the vocal melody, the way the drums groove and the bass locks in either with the drums or with the guitars.
Jet City Woman.
It’s a long way, home to my
Jet City Woman.
I see her face everywhere, can’t get her out of my mind.
1990 was an exciting time for bands who wanted to push boundaries. I had no idea that “Jet City” referred to Seattle. Listening to music and coming across unknown terms, led to research.
1.53 to 2.04
Back to the Intro B section lead guitar but this time with the arpeggios of the first verse.
By now, I was thinking, how the hell did this band ever open up for Metallica. “Empire” was the only piece of music I had from them and three songs into the album, it was progressive pop rock, which is a far cry from Metallica’s technical thrash metal.
Then we are back to the verse and the song goes on.
GUITAR SOLO SECTION
3.38 to 4.12
A 30 second guitar solo is unheard of today from bands on the rock radio charts.
Tremonti and Alter Bridge are pushing some boundaries there. Sixx AM with DJ Ashba are also breaking out some shred. Avenged Sevenfold don’t mind going for a minute or two, however for the rest it’s like a 10 to 15 second section, if any. Unless you are on the fringes and have a cult following like Black Label Society, Evergrey, Protest The Hero and so forth. But this was a guitar solo from a band at their commercial peak.
“Jet City Woman” is a brilliant song that’s been completely forgotten. One YouTube user account has racked up 2,079,291 views. On Spotify, it has 1,525,122 streams. Compared to some of the junk songs that have over 100 million streams, these amounts come to nothing.
Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction” has five times more streams than “Jet City Woman” and Megadeth didn’t sell anywhere near what Queensryche sold during the same period. It just goes to show that multi-platinum sales in the nineties mean nothing 20 years later if you don’t release music consistently and on occasions of a certain quality, the artist ends up a shadow of themselves or in some cases, they end up in the history books.