Come Away With Me
15 years ago, I heard Norah Jones for the first time as she burst onto the pop music scene with "Don't Know Why." My isolated teen-age heart swooned as I finally found someone in my generation who I felt like I could relate to, musically. Her voice was smooth and raspy, deep and low like mine, and her playing was beautiful, her band excellent, and her music like nothing I had heard from my era, ever. In a middle-America world of Eminem, Sublime, and Radiohead, (three artists that define my high school career, all of which I still listen to today with wonderful nostalgia), Norah Jones was a breath of fresh air, misunderstood by all of my peers, while I was in musical heaven.
Norah Jones has been on my bucket list of artists I want to see live for fifteen years, and this June, my dream became reality. Not only did I finally get to see the incredible Norah in concert, but she played Red Rocks in Colorado, a legendary outdoor venue set in the Rocky Mountains, with great sound, and a view of dusk light over Denver behind the stage as the sun gave way to the beautiful music of the night.
A long favorite off her first album is her rendition of "Cold Cold Heart," an old song remade into a masterpiece. On tour with her backing band, The Candles, this song was an inspiration. My favorite live musicians are ones that leave room for musical creativity in their live performances, where, even though there may be a hook, the solos are less rehearsed, made up on the spot, true solos, and there is room for the music to breathe, change, and grow over time. It's never the same twice. This song employed several unusual sounds that made the music come to life. If you closed your eyes, you could literally hear the ship sinking, various clanking and extraneous sounds that bordered on noise yet maintained their integrity as musical composure. As a percussionist, I appreciate this art form.
Her voice and pitch were spot on, as always, although her full range was not present, or at least not employed. She spoke very little, drank hot tea and water between every song, and kept her range closer to the bottom and middle. Even without her whispy high notes, she reigned the night, improvising melodies to what suited her for the night, and stole my heart all over again.