Jazz
2:20 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Diana Krall: Old-Time Music, Rooted In Nostalgia

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 7:13 pm

Listening to Glad Rag Doll, Diana Krall's new album of revamped songs from the Prohibition era, you might assume the singer has a natural attraction to old music. You wouldn't be wrong; Krall has recorded plenty of midcentury jazz standards in her career. But she says these particular songs from the 1920s and '30s never seemed old to her. She grew up singing them every weekend at her grandparents' house.

"After dinner, somebody would play the piano or the accordion or spoons, or whatever else was available in the kitchen," Krall says. "I was maybe 6 years old. Somebody was always playing something from a piece of sheet music. I still have the sheet music, and it still smells like cigarettes. I just thought that everybody's grandparents loved old music and loved jazz."

Some of the songs on the album come from her father's collection of 78s, which she says makes the project deeply personal. Krall and her 76-year-old father still spend time exploring his stacks of records.

"I spent about six hours with him recently," she says. "He just played records, and we just sort of looked at each other and tilted our heads, and it was all expressions on our face. There's so much said in those looks."

Krall says she was nervous about what her father would think, since she did not re-create the songs in their original style.

"This music is in my heart and is my sort of interpretation, not a tribute," she says. "But my dad is pretty open-minded and he kind of dug it, so I was thrilled about that."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GLAD RAG DOLL")

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're listening to a song called "Glad Rag Doll." It's from 1929, a song that makes you think of Prohibition, fedoras, flappers, people dancing by the radio and living for that fleeting moment. Listen to "Glad Rag Doll" and then listen to the way a modern day singer takes over that song and makes it music of this moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GLAD RAG DOLL")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Admired, desired by lovers who soon grow tired. Poor little glad rag doll.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GLAD RAG DOLL")

DIANA KRALL: (Singing) Admired, desired by lovers who soon grow tired. Poor little glad rag doll.

INSKEEP: Diana Krall is the singer. She's made her name interpreting old jazz standards, and she feels a personal connection to the songs on her new album. She heard them growing up in the 1970s, when her family gathered at her grandparents' home in British Columbia.

KRALL: After sort of dinner, we would - somebody would play the piano or the accordion or spoons, or whatever else was available in the kitchen, and we would just sing songs. And I still have the sheet music and it still smells like cigarettes. And yeah, I just thought that everybody's grandparents loved old music and loved jazz.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST LIKE A BUTTERFLY")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) Here I am praying, brokenly saying give me the sun again. Just like a butterfly that's caught in the rain.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST LIKE A BUTTERFLY")

KRALL: (Singing) Here I am praying, brokenly saying give me the sun again. Just like a butterfly that's caught in the rain...

I wasn't drawn to music of the 1920s as, you know, Charleston, Charleston, da-da-da-da-da da-da. That's always everybody's idea of vo-do-do-di-oh, do-do-do-di-oh.

And it is part of that too. But there was a much darker side.

INSKEEP: Which is a theme in Diana Krall's work. The lyrics on the page may be a simple love song but between the lines, as she sings them, you hear a hint of hard times.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S ALL OVER NOW")

KRALL: (Singing) I used to love you all over, all over now...

INSKEEP: And for Krall there's another layer of meaning to these songs because some of them come from her father's collection of old records.

KRALL: I spent about six hours with him recently and he just played records. And we just sort of looked at each other and tilted our head, and it was all expressions on our face. And there's so much said in those looks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYTHING IS MADE FOR LOVE")

KRALL: (Singing) Oh, but you know what I know, everything is made for love...

This music is in my heart and is my sort of interpretation, not in a tribute, because I was getting nervous about what my dad would think about some of these things, because they're not done as a period piece. But my dad is pretty open-minded and he kind of dug it, so I was thrilled about that.

INSKEEP: Singer Diana Krall. Her new album is out now and it has the same title as the song we heard at the beginning, "Glad Rag Doll."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYTHING IS MADE FOR LOVE")

KRALL: (Singing) What is the dark for? What is the park for...

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYTHING IS MADE FOR LOVE")

KRALL: (Singing) Why is a cozy corner so rosy? Every time... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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