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Britney Spears Pleases Herself: Rolling Stone's 2002 Cover Story

'I'm a people pleaser,' says our national pop princess. But starting now, she's looking out for number one

March 29, 2011 1:00 PM ET
Britney Spears Pleases Herself: Rolling Stone's 2002 Cover Story
Photograph by Albert Watson for RollingStone.com

Do you mind if I put on my pajamas?" Britney Spears asks, heading toward the bedroom of her suite at Manhattan's Trump Plaza. It's four o'clock in the afternoon, and her plans for the remainder of the day are limited to an evening workout and, if she's not too pooped, a trip to the movies with her personal assistant, Felicia. These days, Britney is a woman of leisure. This summer, after her world tour ended with an aborted show in Mexico City, she revealed that she would take the next several months off. "I need Britney time," she says, unaware of how impossibly cute she sounds. Britney is obviously a girl's girl — warm, goofy, sentimental and yearning to be liked. Although the twenty-year-old hopes to land another movie role before the year is through, she'll spend most of her vacation catching up with her girlfriends ("We all recently broke up with our boyfriends") and hanging out at her new apartment in New York's East Village, "just farting around."

Photos: Britney Spears, The Rolling Stone Covers

What effect do you think being a woman has had on your music?

At first it was kind of hard because I think people don't take you as seriously. And for people to take you seriously, they make you think that you have to be ballsy. But I think there's a way to balance the two — being who you are and saying how you feel but not going over the top with it. I'm trying to be a little bit more assertive.

This article appeared in the October 31, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

You don't seem like the kind of person who is very brazen about saying what you think.
I observe people's actions before I state my opinions. I'm not a loudmouth at heart. It's retarded, but I'm a people pleaser.

You don't lose that feeling a little when you get really famous?
I'll always care what people think about me. It's not to the point where you're just "F this and F that." I don't want to be that kind of person, because that's just not me. I hate to bring this up, but I'm gonna. I heard that Pink said some really negative things about me.

Rolling Stone Album Review: 'Femme Fatale' by Britney Spears

Have you met her?
I met her, and she was really nice. She sent me flowers at my hotel room. And the next week she said something like, "I don't think it's cool the way that she's like a puppet and she's really smiley and happy all the time." She's probably doing that to protect her whole gimmick thing. I respect that, but don't be a hypocrite and put me down when you're, like, performing with your belly showing, too. And the reason why I'm smiling is because I'm grateful. I'm not the type of person to walk around and be like, "Shit, I'm the coolest girl." I still think her music rocks. But the whole thing hurt my feelings. I felt like, "I thought you liked me. You sent me flowers."

What have you learned in the past year?
I feel changed. I'm a little more serious than I was. It's really weird, because you're a star, and everything is about you all the time — and I'm tired of that. I want to have a different perspective. And not have all my family and all the people I know working for me. I want to hang out with my friends and be a nobody. Because that's how you become reinspired. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Photos: From Britney Spears to Annette Funicello, Disney Stars Who Broke Out Big

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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