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The intriguing case of Norah Jones or how to become invisible after 27 million records sold | pleasures

The intriguing case of Norah Jones or how to become invisible after 27 million records sold |  pleasures

2002 was a strange year for popular, transitional music. On the Billboard 100, the American hit list, the Canadian commercial rock band Nickleback reigned and in the top positions you could still recognize representatives from the previous decade, people like Pink, Avril Lavigne, who released her single that year complicated, Sheryl Crow and Enrique Iglesias. That year Shakira took her final step into Anglo pop and Kylie Minogue donned a hooded satin dressing gown for the video for Can’t Get You Out of My Head. In Spain, Alejandro Sanz, Rosana, Estopa and the album from the first batch of Operación Triunfo triumphed. The binomial Britney Spears / Christina Aguilera was still operating, sold at first as “the good and the bad” of post-adolescent pop. In the midst of this scenario, the last thing anyone expected was for an album by an unknown singer to be a hit, one that had elements of jazz and folk and that came with the Blue Note label, the mythical label of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

Norah Jones is now celebrating two decades of her most famous album, come away with me, with one of those lavish re-releases that allow records to be packaged like expensive gifts. The anniversary edition has 44 songs, a remastered version of the original album and a lot of material that has never been released before including the first demos he recorded from the album. At the time, Come Away With Me Selling 27 million copies, the song named after the album spent several weeks at number one in the US in January 2023 and soon after won Grammys for Best Vocal Album and Best Pop Album of the Year. Jones herself took home Best New Artist.

Trying to explain a posteriori the enormous success of a material that was very digestible – those ballads sounded in Aliases, Dawson’s Creek, Smallville and the romantic comedy of Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes it happened in manhattan– but still highly anomalous in a mainstream music landscape that still had very clear boundaries between genres, it has been said that American listeners were looking for a kind of balm after 9/11, the same reason that the music was believed to have succeeded. song Fallin’ by Alicia Keys. Jones herself was long suspicious of that explanation, but she recently admitted In an interview in Guardian that this could have something to do with the success of the album. Even so, the album reached its peak of popularity almost a year and a half after the attacks, so the theory is a bit far-fetched.

Be that as it may, the public bought en masse the album by Jones, who was then 23 years old – only two years older than Britney Spears, although Jones was considered an adult singer and Spears still a child – and therefore had little past musical. She had majored in jazz and piano at the University of North Texas and then led the classic post-college life, working as a waitress in the mornings and playing bar gigs at night. On her 21st birthday she gave a recital and a Blue Note executive happened to be in the audience and shortly after she decided to sign her. Still, the recording Come Away With Me it wasn’t easy. She tried it for the first time, in a studio packed with prestigious musicians with whom the record company wanted to wrap up the rookie, but they ended up overwhelming her. The second time she was better. Jones was thrilled to be working with Arif Mardin, the producer of her idol Aretha Franklin, and other legends like Laura Nyro and Dionne Worwick.

But those were not the names that the press would notice once they started talking about Norah Jones. The media was obsessed with the fact that Jones was the daughter of Ravi Shankar, the sitar legend who had brought traditional music closer to the Beatles and made it his own. crossover after playing Woodstock. In reality, Shankar and Norah’s mother, concert promoter Sue Jones, separated when she was a child and never married. Norah bore the surname Shankar but she changed it to her mother’s in her teens and she barely had any dealings with her father until she was 18 years old. When she became famous, she had only seen him a handful of times and resented being introduced as “Ravi Shankar’s daughter.” Her own success didn’t improve things between father and daughter either. In an interview with fashion explained: “all families have complicated corners. It was hard when we met, when I was 18. It took us some time to get comfortable with each other. The success of my first album and the sudden interest of the public in our relationship complicated everything. I try to tell my story truthfully while asking for some privacy because of my peculiar family dynamics.” She would later tell Oprah Winfrey that she developed a more fluid relationship with her father when he was very old and they both watched bad movies together, like the love guru. Shankar passed away in 2012 at the age of 93.

The fixation with his father, with whom he also said in an interview in rolling stone, “he had shit to solve”, was not the only thing that gave him a hard time at that time. The success of Come Away With Me and its consequences generated deep unhappiness. “That was a lot about being very busy and being told that you are great, but I only listened to people criticizing me,” she said in the same interview, in 2016. “When you are successful, people want to attack you or analyze why you’re successful and conclude that, well, you’re not that good either. That’s all you hear.” The singer was dating bassist Lee Alexander, a member of her band, in those years, and the relationship survived fame until at least 2007. On her album The Fallfrom 2009, there are several issues dedicated to that rupture.

Before there was another album, in 2004, Feels Like Homewhich did not achieve the success of the previous one, although it also took over the best-selling record positions. The New Yorkersurprised by the sexual tone of some lyrics – nobody expected that from the sweet Norah – said that the whole album was like a great “booty call”, that is to say the call that is made to someone at odd hours when you want a topic. The critic Alexis Petridis, in Guardian, gave the album one star out of five and ruled that, of all the soft balladeers making supermarket-grade jazz at the time (Katie Melua, Jamie Cullum, Michael Bublé), Jones was queen. The record “floats discreetly around the room like something produced by Airwick,” he wrote, referring to the brand of air freshener, and not without exercising a certain cruelty toward a songwriter in her twenties who, on that same album, sang a duet with Dolly Parton long before she died. that this was well seen and went into the roots of the country from Nashville. be considerate cool It didn’t seem to be high on Jones’s agenda, but still, critics like Petridis and a certain section of record-buying people felt they should be saying all the time that they didn’t like Norah Jones. “Feels Like Home it is so harmless that it is difficult for you to remember that you have put it, ”that article also said. “I suspect that’s the fun of it for millions of people who buy this kind of thing. They no longer need rock or pop to move them. They treat music as something ornamental, something you can decorate your house with. Beautifully produced and beautifully orchestrated without any effects, this album fits the bill.”

As much as she was related to that wave of inoffensive light jazz players, Jones’ appearance on the scene also served to make the industry pay more attention to female singers and songwriters. The call “norah effect” it opened the doors to people like Amy Winehouse or Joss Stone.

Although Jones never starred in any kind of descent into hell – and perhaps that is why the media let her be, seeing that she was not scandalous meat nor did she make headlines with her love life – on occasion she has spoken of a time in her life the one where he drank too much, circa 2007. “I drank too much on tour. I was never a super destructive drinker, but I still drank a lot, which isn’t great.” said. Your song tragedy is about a young man who succumbs to alcoholism.

For a decade, Jones has lived in Brooklyn with her partner, musician Pete Remm, and their two children, whose names have never been revealed. In fact, she has never said who she is married to and in her 2016 promo interviews she asked reporters not to reveal the identity of her husband, but another singer revealed it by accident. In one of those interviews she said that she lives simply – albeit in a multi-million dollar house – and that she has a piano covered with papers and bills a short distance from the fridge.

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– Article Written By @Begoña Gómez Urzaiz from https://smoda.elpais.com/placeres/el-intrigante-caso-de-norah-jones-o-como-hacerse-invisible-tras-27-millones-de-discos-vendidos/

Nicole Aniston