Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 118
Sun. May 6, 2012

Norah Jones

“♫ Jolene, Jolene/ please don’t take him even though you can […] ♫”

Its official…I’m going to see Norah Jones. Thanks to a buddy of mine who scored us tickets, it’s going to be awesome night at the Bowl in August.

Preparing for the show, I’ve been enamored with Norah’s new album Little Broken Hearts. I’m fascinated by Jones’ stylistic theme of Murder Ballads that cuts deep within the desirous longing throughout. It helps that Danger Mouse, producer and part of soul duo Gnarls Barkley who’s “Crazy” was a hit single.

But before, Norah and Danger Mouse took their dark, funky and sultry sound in Little Broken Hearts, Norah found inspiration in a friend and country legend Dolly Parton.

Describing the Murder Ballad theme on Little Broken Hearts track “Miriam,” Norah explained to Complex Magazine -“I guess I was sort of thinking dark things. I came out of a breakup last year and I also with The Little Willies, my country band, we’d cover [Dolly Parton’s] “Jolene.” I love “Delia’s Gone,” the Johnny Cash song. It’s like a murder ballad. I loved “Jolene.” I’ve been singing it for 10 years. But I never really understood it until the last few years.”

This 2012 cover of Jolene was actually recorded on Jones’ side project the country band—The Little Willies. My favorite part of Norah’s rendition of “Jolene” is that she stays so faithful to the original that Jones at times mirrors Parton’s vintage voice.

There is elegance to how guarded she is in her timing […]” This is what Norah’s friend Ryan Adams told The Los Angeles Times recently. He explained– “When I hear a song Norah is singing or playing on, I can hear her spirit and her soul very clearly. Also, you would never mistake her for someone else or someone else for her…. I adore that.”

Me too. It’s so true, Mr. Adams – you are so right.

What I love about timeless singer/songwriters like Chan Marshall and Norah Jones is that their singing voices can simultaneously accent deep southern bluesy twang while crooning in a NYC flavored tone—in the same song. That’s why Jazz, Blues, Country, Rock, Soul and yes Hip Hop fans all adore Norah Jones. Her songs, voice and sound cross so many categories making her chameleon as chanteuse exposing herself as one of the most radiatingly brave and honest artists of our generation.

We have to thank Jack White and The White Stripes, for bringing back “Jolene” to the pop culture consciousness in the year 2000. Their version of “Jolene” was named one of the top ten cover songs of all time.

And of course we have to pay tribute to the original, without whom, the myth and magic of Jolene would not exist without that legend that is— Dolly Parton.

Norah’s cover of “Jolene” is the first song on my Norah pre-show playlist. A little darkness with a side of country never hurt anyone; give “Jolene” a taste. Norah’s version is so sinister and sweet you will want to spin her over—again and again.