Interview: Norah Jones

Singer-songwriter Norah Jones gears up for a Central Park SummerStage performance and a season of alfresco snacking.

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  • Photograph: Dale May

    Norah Jones

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Norah Jones

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Norah Jones

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Norah Jones

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Norah Jones

Photograph: Dale May

Norah Jones


TONY: What are some of your favorite cheap, quick eats in NYC?
Norah Jones: I love the Tuck Shop (68 E 1st St between First and Second Aves; 212-979-5200, tuckshopnyc.com) anytime I’m hanging out on the Lower East Side. They have meat pies—I like the lamb-and-vegetable pie. It’s nice walking food too, but I usually don’t get very far because I eat it so fast! My favorite thing in the city is to get a quick deli sandwich, or a breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg and cheese. But I don’t necessarily have a specific deli; I just love that all the bodegas here have food. And I like Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches (99-C Nassau St between Ann and Fulton Sts, 212-766-3388). Oh! I really like the Calexico taco truck (@calexiconyc, calexicocart.com). There’s a few in Brooklyn and they’re in Manhattan, too. And I love going to Brooklyn Bridge Park. I’ve made trips walking along the water up to the Brooklyn Bridge Park—it’s so nice—to go to the taco truck. But they’re not always there. [Laughs]

TONY: Do you go out to eat with friends in big groups much?
Norah Jones: [Yes, to] Lil’ Frankie’s (19 First Ave between 1st and 2nd Sts; 212-420-4900, lilfrankies.com). And the Meatball Shop (84 Stanton St between Allen and Orchard Sts; 212-982-8895, themeatballshop.com) is also fun, quick and easy. [But] I also cook a lot.

TONY: Little Broken Hearts, your new record, is a summer album, but it’s also quite dark.
Norah Jones: [Cowriter and producer Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse] wanted to make a dark record. He likes that kind of thing. I’m pretty mellow anyway, the music I make is quiet. So it kind of just ended up that way. We finished it at the end of last summer, and I was thinking it would be nice to put it out in the wintertime, but the way things go, we needed a little extra time to get it set up. We’re going to be doing a lot of outdoor shows—I don’t feel like all of the music is dark sounding, so it’s cool. We’ll mix it in with some happy songs, and it’ll be all good. Put a cherry on top, wrap it in a bow. [Laughs]

TONY: One of the strongest tracks, I think, is “Miriam,” which chronicles a murder. Where did that come from?
Norah Jones: I was playing with [my country band] the Little Willies last year and we did “Jolene,” where she’s begging, and we did “Fist City” where Loretta Lynn is going to punch you if you take her man. Then we did “Delia’s Gone,” and the Johnny Cash murder song. I think it just kind of popped out of that stuff. I made it really scary. The fun thing about trying different things out in the studio is that there’s no filter when you’re comfortable in your situation, and I was very comfortable around Brian. That’s the great thing about trying stuff out and not being so self-conscious when you’re writing. I think that’s how you get good, messed-up songs! [Laughs]

Norah Jones plays Central Park SummerStage July 3, 2012.

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