'Featuring' Norah Jones Track-By-Track
Over the years, jazzy pop chanteuse and pianist Norah Jones has teamed up with many of her favorite artists, and now she's collected 18 tracks for an entire album of collaborations on her tunes, their tunes, covers and even seasonal favorites like 'Baby, It's Cold Outside." The aptly titled, "...Featuring," due out Nov. 16, finds Jones pairing herself with well-respected musicians of every genre from rock (Foo Fighters, Ryan Adams) to hip-hop (OutKast, Q-Tip) to country (Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton) to jazz (Herbie Hancock, Dirty Dozen Brass Band). Here's what Jones had to say about each of the collaborations.
"Love Me" feat. The Little Willies
Norah Jones: "The Little Willies is one of my favorite bands that I have played with over the years and the Elvis song seemed like a good opening track. It was important to me that we put stuff in this compilation that I'm really proud of, whether it was high-profile or not.
"Virginia Moon" Foo Fighters feat. Norah Jones
"I've been a fan of Dave Grohl's for a long time. He called me and I thought, 'Am I finally gonna get to rock?' When he sent me the track it was this beautiful bossa nova ballad so it made sense that he called me - but I wasn't going to get to rock after all. The song has a complex chord progression and it took me a minute to fish around for the right harmony, but we found it together."
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"Turn Them" Sean Bones feat. Norah Jones
"I was in this film, "Wah Do Dem?," and the lead part was played by a musician named Sean Bones. When it came time to do the soundtrack, they asked me to do a song with him. It has a kind of reggae feel-the movie was shot in Jamaica, so I think Sean was inspired by the film when he wrote the song."
"Baby It's Cold Outside" Willie Nelson feat. Norah Jones
"I had met and sung with Willie a lot so I feel very comfortable with him, he's a doll. It never fails though, when he opens his mouth to sing, I get chills. It brings me back to my childhood and that never goes away."
"Bull Rider" - Norah Jones and Sasha Dobson
"This is a Rodney Crowell song that Johnny Cash recorded. I've had two bands with Sasha. The Sloppy Joannes and Puss N' Boots. Both are trios and I play lead guitar, which is hilarious because I'm very limited."
"Ruler Of My Heart" - Dirty Dozen Brass Band feat. Norah Jones
"The A&R guy at the Dirty Dozen's label was a really big supporter of mine, even before I got a record deal. He wanted me on this record, and I don't think the Dirty Dozen even knew who I was. I was a little nervous. I remember one of the guys was like, 'You're in pain! Sing it like you're in more pain!' And I needed that, I was very young at the time."
"The Best Part" - El Madmo
"Me and Daru Oda got kinda antsy on a long tour. I started playing electric guitar and she started playing bass and we wrote songs in the dressing room. Then we had an idea for a band. We all had names and would dress up -- just a joke, like we were trying to be KISS or something. We started playing gigs in New York when we were home. We wore wigs and put Blade Runner make-up on -- I think we spent more time on the costumes than the set list in the beginning."
"Take Off Your Cool" OutKast feat. Norah Jones
'I knew who OutKast were and I really liked their music, but I would never have guessed that they knew who I was. Andre 3000 sent me the music, but there wasn't any singing on it yet so I didn't know the vocal melody or the words. When we got to the studio he said, 'Give me a minute,' and he did all his vocals -- a lot of layers, a lot of harmonies. He did it very quickly. I don't know how much he had prepared or if it was mostly improvised, but he definitely had a clear picture of what he wanted."
"Life Is Better" Q-Tip feat. Norah Jones
"Some of these situations have been really laid-back, like 'Why don't you come by the studio and we'll try something and if it doesn't work, that's cool.' That's great, because there's no pressure. Q-Tip wanted me to sing a really high part. The track was there, so they couldn't change the key. I think it inspired me to do a little more of that on my next record."
"Soon The New Day" Talib Kweli feat. Norah Jones
"Talib Kweli didn't send me anything ahead of time, but I was fine to do it that way. I'm a pretty quick learner. I never thought I would be singing with rappers necessarily, but I feel it's more natural than it seems. A lot of this music seems to be influenced by a love jazz. Even though we do very different things with it, it's kind of a common stepping stone."
"Little Lou, Prophet Jack, Ugly John" - Belle & Sebastian feat. Norah Jones
"This is the most recent thing I've done -- it's so recent that I didn't know if we were going to be able to include it on the record. They had the arrangement and everything down, and I just kind of slipped my part in. We did it live and the band sounded so great. The song was very high in my range. I said, 'I think I can make it work, but please tell me if I sound like Minnie Mouse.' They swore I didn't and it worked!"
"Here We Go Again" - Ray Charles feat. Norah Jones
"I got a call from Ray asking if I'd be interested in singing on this duets record. I got on the next plane and I brought my mom. We went to his studio and did it live with the band. I sang it right next to Ray, watching his mouth for the phrasing. He was very sweet and put me at ease, which was great because I was petrified walking in there."
"Loretta" - Norah Jones feat. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
"We were on tour together and Gillian and David were in the dressing room one night singing this great Townes Van Zandt song and I said, "I love that song!" So we worked out a little arrangement where it's just three-part harmony the whole way through. We would play it around one mic, Grand Ole Opry-style. It's one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite songwriters."
"Dear John" - Ryan Adams feat. Norah Jones
"I was kind of depressed because I was having trouble writing so Ryan came over and we wrote this song really quickly. He was so encouraging. He's the reason I got over that hump and being so self-conscious about my writing. He called me to come into the studio a few months later and I hadn't really played the song since. We played through it once and I was like, 'OK, we'll get it together,' and he said, 'Nope, we got it.' You can hear all the creaking in the piano bench, there's some wrong notes, but it was a great take."
"Creepin' In" - Norah Jones feat. Dolly Parton
"I had met Dolly a couple of times, then she asked me to sing with her at an awards show. She was so sweet that I felt like I could ask her to come do this song. We cut it live and it was way faster than it was supposed to be because we were so excited. Her energy is just so great and she giggles in the mic. It's so cute."
"Court & Spark" - Herbie Hancock feat. Norah Jones
"This Herbie Hancock record was all Joni Mitchell songs. Joni's songs are hard to cover, but I felt like I could relate to this one. I was a jazz nerd in high school and college so I was probably more nervous to play with Herbie and Wayne Shorter than anyone else on this list. I'm not on their level of playing free and improvising but it all worked out-I just had to count every once in a while."
"More Than This" - Charlie Hunter feat. Norah Jones
"This was one of the first real recording sessions I ever did. Charlie brought me out on the road with him for a few weeks, and that was my first tour. I was very excited to record this track. I didn't know the Roxy Music song. I listened to so much jazz at the time, I guess I missed it. I missed a lot of things in my jazz phase, but that's OK-I gained a lot of things, too."
"Blue Bayou" - Norah Jones feat. M. Ward
"M. Ward is one of my favorite singers and favorite people. He was on tour with us and he opened the show solo. Every night I would go out and sing a few songs with him and we did "Blue Bayou" a lot."
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