Q&A: Norah Jones
The jazz-pop star talks about avoiding Twitter, embracing her rock side, and working with Ryan Adams
Since your last record (2007’s double platinum Not Too Late) was released, you broke up with your boyfriend and bassist Lee Alexander, and The Fall doesn’t have many happy love songs. How autobiographical is the album?
Maybe half and half. Maybe more than half. Maybe it’s because I’ve turned 30, but all my friends went through a breakup in the last two years. It’s definitely a transition album. [Laughs] But some of it’s a little borrowed.
There is a lot of guitar on the album. How does your ax work compare to your piano playing?
I’m getting better. I’m not a shredder or anything. But I do guitar solos, and they’re hilarious. I just stay on one string.
People are paying good money for this!
Hey, I think it’s good enough!
There’s a couplet on the song ”It’s Gonna Be” that runs ”Now if a princess becomes human/Don’t stone her on a talk show.” Was that inspired by anyone in particular?
It’s like, with Paris Hilton going to jail and Britney Spears having a nervous breakdown and people wanting blood — it’s so sad how you build these people up and then you want to stone them in the streets. And then there’s the other side where, obviously, they put themselves in the limelight. Why would you shave your head in front of a photographer? But the thing that’s obvious is that they’re going through something, so leave them the f— alone.
We never see photos of you staggering out of bars. Do you just not do that? Or are the paparazzi waiting outside the wrong bars?
You co-wrote the Fall track ”Light as a Feather” with Ryan Adams. How crazy is he on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 being not crazy at all and 10 being Charles Manson?
I can’t comment on that! He’s my friend. [Laughs] I can’t, I can’t! But he definitely works on another level. And he’s so fast. We were just hanging out and I played him a song that I had been stuck on, and he finished it in 10 minutes. He gets a lot of s—, but he’s a great talent.
I went on your Twitter account, and it was completely empty. It was like I was staring into the bottomless pit of Norah Jones’ soul!
I know. We acquired the account when I went into the studio because we thought it would be a good idea for me to start being like, ”Hey, I’m in the studio!” And I stared at that website page for about two weeks, every few days. I feel like a total dope. Everything that I want to say sounds dorky, and everything that I don’t want to say sounds totally contrived.