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Cat Power In the Studio: The Stories Behind "Jukebox"

January 23, 2008 6:17 PM ET

Sultry singer Cat Power bares her soul in a profile by Brian Hiatt in the current issue of Rolling Stone, but to whet your appetite, here's more of their interview that couldn't fit into the magazine (including info on her next album of original songs and stories behind the making of Jukebox).

When did you record Jukebox?
Last May we started in Miami. The original reason I started playing with Jim White and Judah Bauer was because The Greatest tour was winding down and a lot of those musicians that I was traveling with for that record all had other jobs and other lives.

November was when [the new group] started touring together, so we met to see if The Greatest songs sounded okay. And when we got there I was so excited because I had already been telling Judah what songs I wanted to cover on the road, and practice just turned into playing all these cover songs.

How did you go about recording?
My concept, which we were able to do, was a live record. There were only a couple of overdubs. So we got about ten versions that we liked, and then we went on tour. When we came to Brooklyn we did "Blue" and "A Woman Left Lonely."

What about the album of new original songs you've been working on?
I already have it. I've already recorded all of them over the years. There's an old one called "Leopard and the Lamb," which means a lot to me. There's "Real Life," it's a really super positive song. There's another one — there are about twelve or fourteen — "Wind on the Mountaintops," "Time," "Great Healer," "Let Sadness Not Be Attached to Your Name," "Native American Song." There's a lot of songs — "Why" is one of the names.

Why did you put "Metal Heart" on Jukebox?
As a young woman I had different fans. Over these years, "Metal Heart" is one of the main songs that people would always call out for. "Metal Heart" is about like, feminism, being a woman. Now I do it with more, I guess ferocity, it's like I really mean what I'm saying, I don't want people to doubt themselves.

It's like I'm a pointing a finger. When I'm on stage I'm angry at myself and I'll throw out the metal heart and stomp on it. I think all of us in a lot of different ways had a similar defense mechanism, and the metal heart is just like, we'll refuse to be hurt. And if you refuse to be hurt, you refuse to feel anything. There may have been a time where you needed to protect yourself emotionally, intellectually, psychologically or physically, but time passes, things change, you grow — especially as Western people. Some other people in this world don't have that opportunity to choose between believing in yourself or not.

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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