Chomp, 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.