On most nights, Joanna Newsom headlining Carnegie Hall might well top the list of notable musical events in New York City. This was not necessarily the case yesterday, when Kanye West performed an incredible surprise show downtown shortly after the indie singer-songwriter left the venerable Hall. But having miraculously managed to see both performances, I can attest that Newsom’s was too good to be overlooked. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Joanna Newsom (1-5 of 5)
Here’s your random yet awesome music news of the day: A rep for the Roots confirms exclusively to the Music Mix that Joanna Newsom, John Legend, and My Morning Jacket/Monsters of Folk’s Jim James will all appear on the Roots’ upcoming album How I Got Over.
It’s been ten months since the Roots debuted that album’s excellent title track on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and the rest of the record has yet to appear. That’s okay — we fans are willing to wait, and we all know the Roots are busy with their day late night job. Still, the delay has made me, for one, desperate for any new information about How I Got Over. Last night, Roots drummer ?uestlove dropped just such a tantalizing crumb on Twitter: “yes indeed we are working hard on #HOWIGOTOVER (first look) mixing the Joanna Newsome Jawn.” Could that possibly mean what I thought it meant? Yep! Now we know it’s true: The brilliant indie harpist and the baddest hip-hop band in the land will be together on wax at last.
This combination is as cool as it is unexpected. Just imagine the possibilities: Newsom could sing a hook like no other, sure. Or she could pluck out a counter-melody to Captain Kirk’s guitar and Tuba Gooding Jr.’s Sousaphone on her harp. Or maybe, just maybe, she could get a verse to herself, or trade lines with Black Thought “Double Trouble”-style. After all, Newsom’s complex rhyme schemes often feel closer to hip-hop than anything in typical indie rock. (UPDATE: The Roots’ camp clarifies that the song in question samples one of Newsom’s old songs — from this in-studio teaser clip ?uesto just posted, it sounds like 2004’s “The Book of Right-On” — but that Newsom has also recorded new vocal over-dubs for this track.)
Train is riding high right now with “Hey, Soul Sister,” their biggest chart hit since 2001’s “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me).” I spoke to frontman Pat Monahan about the band’s surprising comeback for the new issue of EW, on stands today. While I had him on the phone, I asked Monahan what’s in heavy rotation on his iPod these days.
Turns out he’s been getting into Have One on Me, the three-CD indie-folk opus Joanna Newsom released last month — an impressively left-field pick coming from a mainstream pop-rocker like him. “That’s new for me,” Monahan told me. “She has a new record, and I was like, ‘Man, what’s this Joanna Newsom thing?’ She’s super hip. All the kids love her.”
Read on for five tunes from Monahan’s iPod playlist, including Newsom and more.
1. Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”: “I always loved so many singer-songwriters. This song is so complexly amazing that I can’t tell you enough good things about it. I’ve been listening to that over and over again. It’s the best writing, word-wise. The song is about how this woman would look up at the clouds and see circus creatures and all this fun, beautiful, magnificent possibility in every cloud — and then later in life, see those clouds as just mechanisms to rain and snow on everyone. What a heartbreaking change. Wow, that’s profound.”
2. Joanna Newsom, “Good Intentions Paving Company”: “She’s really interesting. Even the title is amazing. What a great play on how you say ‘good intentions pave the road to hell.’ What a smart thing to say. Maybe she’s the next Joni Mitchell, I dunno.”
Joanna Newsom talks about her excellent new triple album, the 'toxic' world of fashion, and 'passing' in the New York scene
Joanna Newsom—the harp-plucking, polarizing critics’ darling—has been trying to shake off her shyness lately, dabbling in New York fashion and dating Andy Samberg (which she prefers not to discuss, thank you very much). She spoke with us about Have One On Me, her triple-disc album that comes out today, and how it was shaped by her increasingly high-profile lifestyle.
EW: The album has a lot of references to drinking and debauchery—is that autobiographical or just fiction?
JN: I think there is some of both, indirectly. A lot of the themes on the album have to do with traveling and being ungrounded in many ways, being sort of cast out and away from home, whatever that means. It kind of oversimplifies it in a way to talk about it. I’m trying to make a lyrical case rather than make the kind of case you would want to talk about at length in an interview. But I think that that’s part of the character of the record. For me I was thinking of it in terms of a 1920s expatriot version of decadence, that was the model of the kind of hedonism I wanted to write about.
EW: So this is your longest record. Did you intend for that, or did it just happen?
JN: It just kind of happened. Two thirds of the way through I already had enough material for a double album, but I weirdly felt it wasn’t done—I felt like I needed to get a better sense of what the themes were and I wanted to be able to tie them up. To introduce them, develop them and resolve them and I felt like I wasn’t there yet. So I tried to sequence it in a way that helped to locate that thread. Because I think there is a linear quality to the way that a lot of the ideas develop and revolve. It took me like three weeks to sequence it and I tried so many different permutations of songs. When it finally was sequenced I realized, to me at least, it made perfect sense as a triple album, and that’s what I decided to commit to.
EW: You used to live in Nevada City, Calif., but you seem to be in New York a lot. Are you living here now?
JN: I’m not. I do spend a fair amount of time there, but I’m still in Northern California. Not in Nevada City, but near where I grew up.
EW: You’ve been doing a fair amount of New York fashion stuff, like that shoot for W magazine. Has that affected how you approach music?
JN: I think in some ways. I did notice myself on this album either directly or indirectly writing about the city, sort of frantic dispatches from the city and trying to find a place there and figure out how to be creative and grounded in that world, which I still haven’t figured out, really. Yeah, I think it’s in there.
EW: I’ve read you wanted to play the harp and make music since you were a kid. Did you aspire to the fashion and fame thing as well, or is that more recent?
JN: Well, fashion is obviously a minefield of potentially toxic and horrible influences or forces at work, but fashion at its most simple, dreamy and pure form was something that interested me a lot. Like many people, I’m sure, I did the whole thing where you design clothes, hundreds and hundreds of pages of ideas that I wanted to make someday. And I really have always loved beautiful clothing, so there’s a side of that that’s exciting. I did sort of initially go through this phase of going to a lot of fashion-y things with that excitement, you know, being like, “Oooooo, this world! Fashion!” And then kind of getting deflated a little bit and realizing that in some cases—maybe I’m just not approaching it the right way—but in a lot of cases it just doesn’t seem to have much of a relationship with the actual parts of fashion or the actual parts of design that are exciting to me.
EW: There’s a line in your record that goes, “Sure I can pass/particularly when I start to tip my glass.” Is that a somewhat autobiographical reference to doing the New York scene and the fashion thing? READ FULL STORY
It’s been a highly entertaining indie-rock parlor game these past few years, wondering how harpist/lyricist Joanna Newsom would follow up 2006’s Ys – arguably one of the most rewarding releases of the decade just concluded, and certainly one of its most unusual. How could she top that strange masterpiece? Now we have our answer: with a triple album. On Feb. 23, her label Drag City will release Newsom’s Have One on Me as a three-CD package, as well as a three-LP vinyl set, if that’s your thing.
This announcement confirms rumors that have been circulating since Drag City posted a mysterious cartoon hinting at the album’s imminent arrival earlier this month, though the triple-album part comes as a surprise. If you can get Drag City’s site to load — it seems to be down at the moment, perhaps due to a deluge of frenzied Joanna Newsom fans — you’ll be able to stream Have One on Me‘s spare, contemplative “’81.” (Opening lyric: “I found a little plot of land in the Garden of Eden/It was dirt, and dirt is all the same.”) (UPDATE: Drag City has removed the stream of “’81” due to technical issues; it should be back soon.) All further details, including the rest of Have One on Me‘s track list, remain under wraps.
Triple albums can be divisive, and this one will surely be no exception. Speaking as someone who loves Ys, though, I’d say that album proved that Newsom does exceedingly well with creative gambles. If there’s any artist from whom I’d like to hear three full discs of new material at once, it’s her.
How about you? Anyone else excited by this news? What do you hope the rest of Have One on Me will sound like?
(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)
More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: What’s in it for you?
Wilco gives away free concert MP3s, asks for Haiti donations
New Leighton Meester, ‘Your Love is a Drug’: Stream it here
Lady Gaga at Radio City: Best. Concert. Ever.
Photo credit: Annabel Mehran
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