I have recently had an experience which has seriously made me question whether I am becoming middle-aged. Boring. Satisfied. Mellow. Less the angry person I used to be, and more a person my younger self would have bitterly, ironically, and derisively disliked.
For, this weekend, after listening to her new Little Broken Hearts album, I have become a Norah Jones fan.
Norah Jones. Norah fucking Jones. The one who did Come Away With Me. An album which might as well have been sponsored by Chill FM, in association with the Dignitas Clinic. An album which I couldn’t get past the first 20 seconds of, so filled with horror was I of its sheer, ‘let’s snuggle up, take sedatives and abandon all thought-ness’.
When she first released her ‘music to have an organic picnic to’ album in the early part of this century, I was a big fan of the Libertines. And Biggie Smalls. If I listened to a female artist it was PJ Harvey. I had a lot of anger and a short attention span.
So maybe I didn’t give Norah the chance she deserved.
But fuck that. Her album was a sweetly smelling pile of shite. Pitiful bollocks which John Peel would have said something about with a casual wit of which I am not capable.
I hated Norah Jones, her music and everything she represented. (You may have inferred this already, but I like to underline a point.)
And the good thing is, after the abortion that was her first album, it seems that a lot of people hated Norah, too. It appears that her nearest and dearest have undergone a concerted campaign to be as nasty as possible to the pretty girl with the pretty voice.
Because her new album is so full of malevolence, hate, and cruelty that it makes you wonder if the thing has been penned by Nick Cave.
Exhibit A is the song Miriam. The choice lyric here is:
“Miriam, you know you done me wrong, I’m gonna smile when I take your life.”
She sings it sweetly enough, which makes the murderous threat all the more twisted. http://youtu.be/bnBnzP_nQ3g
On She’s 22, she sings, “She’s 22, and she’s loving you, and you’ll never know how it makes me blue. Does it make you happy?” A very simple lyric, but delivered with a bittersweet attitude which is not far from Billie Holiday. http://youtu.be/W6O1xQMv6o8
Norah Jones has gone from being background music of the worst sort, to music, if it were played at a dinner party, I’d tell people to shut up and listen (this is perhaps why I rarely get invited to dinner parties).
But maybe it is me. Maybe I have changed. I have been on the live performance scene for a couple of years now. I’ve witnessed performances which have made me cringe in horror (some, on reflection, by myself). I know what a revelation it is when you hear someone with talent, up close. If Norah Jones was in a small venue with an acoustic guitar, she would blow me away, saccharine lyrics or not.
I can now appreciate talent for what it is, rather than instantly seeking to denounce something which is not to my specific taste, however enjoyable that might be. I am, without doubt, more tolerant.
So, it seems, we’ve both changed. And from my new, slightly more mature standpoint I am happy to say Norah Jones’s new album is brilliant. However, just to balance things out, I also downloaded the new Killer Mike album, which hopefully will assuage my old self that I haven’t changed too much.