When Norah Jones presented her debut Come with me to his record label, he was rejected. Initial recording of the album at Allaire Studios in Woodstock, New York with a collective of dream musicians – Rob Burger on accordion and organ, guitarists Bill Frisell and Kevin Breit, bassist Lee Alexander and drummers Brian Blade and Kenny Wollesen on drums –Come with me was later re-recorded and remixed before its release in 2002. Yet those early sessions and even earlier demos marked a moment in time for the then 21-year-old artist who was making her debut album.
“Some of these recordings are great,” Jones told the American songwriter. “They could have easily been on the album with a little pin polish, but they just weren’t. It’s kind of nice to be able to pull it out and tell the story of how it all happened because it’s a bit tricky as a story as a soundbite.
Now 20 years after the release of Come with meJones revisited some of the songs that escapedthose never released from Allaire sessions and previous demos on Come Away With Me – 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition. Produced by Eli Wolf, the re-released package includes the original 14-track album, in addition to 22 previously unreleased tracks, including the original demos Jones submitted to Blue Note Records, the first session demos she made after signed and the first version of the album recorded at Allaire Studios with Street, including many never-before-heard tracks.
For Jones, finding Street to work on those songs again after two decades was enlightening. “I had to take a lot of care to explain this properly with the right nuance,” Jones says. “It was great to get together with Craig and remix it and really shine it because he never got the chance.”
When Come with me was initially turned down by Blue Note, the incident was downplayed, Jones says, because no one wanted it to become the story around the album. “The story became so much more that it almost didn’t matter anymore,” Jones says. “A lot of records are made that way, not with an entire record necessarily turned down, but a lot are made from different sessions with a lot of different people.” She adds: “It’s not like it has to be said, and it was a really strange thing that happened, but I never looked back and I had regrets because the album took off madly that everything that happened felt like fate.”
Looking back on the Street sessions, Jones admits things could have been handled differently by the label, but it’s also hard to get back into the mindset of how she felt back then. Back at Sorcerer Sound Studios with producer Arif Mardin, the final version of Come with me featured “Don’t Know Why” and “Turn Me On” from Jones’ previous demo sessions and “The Long Day Is Over”, “Feelin’ The Same Way” and “Seven Years” from the Allaire sessions.
“I think part of me was relieved because I knew it wasn’t quite right yet, but part of me was also very disappointed because there was some really special stuff in there.” , shares Jones. “Part of me always felt bad that I never made it with Craig, so it was nice to reconnect and end with him.”
Listening to previous demos and Allaire, Jones said she found a renewed connection with many songs. “I loved a lot of the stuff that was going on, but I didn’t feel like it sounded right,” Jones says. “It wasn’t until we really had a chance to dive in and find the old tapes – everything was recorded on tape and transferred to Pro Tools – that I realized that with the right mixes, they were actually excellent and that I sounded very good. I’m really proud of myself. I never thought I sounded good with them back then.
Added to previously unreleased demos such as “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”, “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home”, and “World of Trouble”, as well as demos and samples from early sessions on the LuxuryJones particularly likes “Fragile,” a song recorded during the Allaire sessions and originally written by her friend and musician Noam Weinstein, who used to play with her at the Living Room on the Lower East Side after she moved from Texas in New York in 1999
“It was special to come back to it because it’s nice to celebrate it,” Jones says of the album. “At the time, I was so overwhelmed by it all that I didn’t really have a chance to enjoy it. I really had a lot of fun in there, but it was also mixed with a lot of anxiety, stress and confusion about what was going on, so it’s nice to look back and be proud of that without all that added stew of feelings. »
Come with me was not a jazz album, although Jones had roots in jazz piano and planted himself in regular jazz club gigs. “I think about the album, and I think about all those songs,” Jones says. “It’s so easy to write dark, sad songs. There’s a real sense of melancholy on the whole album because that’s always been where I drifted. I like slow songs. I love ballads. I love sad songs, so the album has this sort of menace of melancholy, but it also had from a songwriting perspective and from a lyrical perspective, an innocence.
Referencing some of the songs, many of which were not written by Jones but which they performed, “Cold Cold Heart” was never an innocent song, but there was something “playful” about it. interior. “I always felt like it was playful the way I was doing it,” she says. “It’s a sad song about longing, but there’s a levity to everything I gravitate towards. I don’t think I really realized what I was singing while completely singing ‘Cold Cold Heart’ like I do. now.
Jones admits she didn’t realize how beautiful ‘The Nearness of You’ was, as well as ‘Come Away With Me’, a song she wrote late at night after a Living Room show, strumming the song on an old electric guitar. using his limited tuning skills at the time. “It was more country than jazz,” Jones says. “I wrote it down with enough clues to remember the melody and luckily I was able to make sense of it the next morning.” Still new to songwriting at the time, Jones says she was just happy to have a song that didn’t embarrass her.
“How innocent, how pure this feeling,” Jones adds of the title track. “I don’t know if I could write a song like that now. It felt like the whole world was in front of us, so let’s make it beautiful.
Mainly written around states of love and being more sorry, sadness in the songs of Come with me shouldn’t be a surprise, says Jones. “It allowed me to finish my secondary education,” she laughs. “I had a mixtape of sad songs and I would just put it on and cry.” Although imbued with the most melancholic, Jones insists that there is always a sense of comfort in the songs. “It’s not leaning towards dark, sad, melancholy, super depressing,” Jones says, “but I feel like there’s a levity to it.”
Closing the loop with Come with me and is still working on something new, after her 2021 holiday album I Dream of Christmas and seventh album Pick me up off the floorJones is waiting to see where her songs take her next.
“Maybe I’ll write ‘Sad songs to cry on at midnight in the bathtub while eating a tub of ice cream and drinking wine,'” she jokes.
“I’m just tinkering, as always,” says Jones. “I feel quite musical. I feel like I’m always about six months ahead of myself. I don’t have a five-year plan, and I like it that way. I guess we’ll just see.
Photo: Joanne Savio/Universal Music