Keeping Up With the Jones

Norah Jones - Feels Like HomeChomp, chomp, chomp. That <– is the sound of me eating my words, and I might as well do it in public.

Back up just a couple of years and Norah Jones was a regular performer at The Living Room, and The Living Room was a regular stop on my night rounds. Which is to say that I saw her a couple of times back when she was still just Norah Jones, and that and a buck fifty would still get you on the subway.

On stage Norah was cool, gifted, and gracious, and hella cute. Her music wasn’t my thing, which is fine (Schönberg isn’t my thing either, for different reasons). Her wonderful rise to acclaim and fame was inspiring and very satisfying, since so few artists by and large were getting signed out of New York. I was at the SXSW Music Conference when her buzz became a shout, and was completely surprised when the Grammies fell her way and her Energizer Bunny of a first album kept selling, and selling, and selling. I confess to several witty and withering email reviews to friends who didn’t hear the magic either. I predicted a dire Hootie and the Blowfish-style stall for Norah’s second record, saddled as she was by a prior stellar sales history and by the Grammy New-Artist curse. It’s going to end badly, I said. It was a fluke, I said. Everyone got their taste and now they’ll move on, I said. Doom and gloom, gloom and doom, woe and sorrow and tragedy.

I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrongity-woo-wrong-zingo.

I bought the last one just after the Grammy awards, really just to share in the afterglow and play my willing lemming part in the tip of the numbers. I’ll buy this one too. What I’ve heard says that this record was done right, that it’s not the usual mess of commercial compromise and backstabbing hit-machine skullduggery. What I’ve heard says Norah has done this on her terms (having Grubman, Indursky & Schindler renegotiate your contract for a $15 million advance makes this easier, I suppose), playing through the machine without letting the machine gnaw off a few fingers and toes along the way.

Whether I like the music or not – it’s immaterial at this point – I’m going to listen to Feels Like Home and hear a major-label record by an artist who deserves all her accolades, and who just basically refused to drag through all of the L.A. dirt to get where she was going. She got where she got by doing what she does best, and people liked it without having it battered into their ears, and that was that. High road? I like it. You go, girl.

Chomp, chomp, chomp. Over a million scanned first week alone, and a future looking bright. Chomp, chomp.

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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7 Responses to Keeping Up With the Jones

  1. Helen says:

    I get paid on Wednesday, which to me therefore means I am going to rush out and buy Norah Jones’ new CD.

    Honestly, I loved her last one so much that even if the critics had said this one was crap, I would’ve ignored them and rushed out to buy it anyway.

  2. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it, Helen. As I said, Norah’s music is not entirely my cuppa – but I respect and admire her style and a whole flock of details, not least of which is the way she has stayed true to her friends. A rare trait in this mean, greedy business.

    If you check Norah’s site and visit her links page, for example, you’ll find listings of the people she played with early along her road. One small indication of a strong and generous soul.

    Enjoy the record!

  3. Okay, so I just got the cd, too. It’s got a hint of country in there, wouldn’t you say? Also, your post on my site just now was beautiful. Who is the poet? Uh oh, hope I don’t blow your cover.

  4. Linus says:

    Thanks, Stephanie. I’m the poet on that one. It’s from last April, and I just ran across it today. So it was in hand when you were posting about poetry.

    Norah is a very country girl; early word on the CD was that it was going to be a Western swing record at heart. I haven’t picked up my copy yet, though I will soon.

  5. Mark Stephen says:

    Linus:
    I like Norah’s music. I agree it is not everyone’s cuppa. I was not even aware I would fall forr that kind of music. Year and a half back I heard her music at Borders and the uniqueness of the voice hit me. Didn’t do much about it. Heard her again on radio and I went ‘Oh, that voice again’ but still didn’t catch who the artist was. A week later, again at Borders, hearing the song again, I asked the checkout person who she is, went to the listening stations, listened to her and essentially surrendered to her spell!!

    OK, it is great of you to come out and public and say what you said. You know what I am afraid of now? You may have jinxed her third record :-) :-)

    Mark

  6. Mark Stephen says:

    BTW, your mention of Grubman, Indursky & Schindler negotiating a $15 Million advance, I have never read about that anywhere else. You are just saying that, or this is something based on good sources. I am only happy for her if it indeed had happened. Any info on this will be fun to read and know about.

    Mark.

  7. Hi Mark – Thanks for coming by Pepper of the Earth, and for directing the Norah fans here too. I hope you took the time to read about our fun night seeing the Little Willies as well, while you were here (you can find it using the Search function in the right column).

    Yes, the contract renegotiation stuff is the info I’ve got, from good sources.

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