Been organizing older work of late, and came across this 2002 chat with Diana Krall right around the time she and Elvis Costello started to fall in love. Fun to see what she has to say about that initial crossing of paths. The interview took place around the release of The Look of Love disc, and we talk about couple other things before EC hits the picture.
What are some songs that make you cry?
There are Christmas songs that make me cry. Recently I was on this plane, coming back from Hawaii, stuck on the tarmac for five hours, sitting with my boyfriend. And I’m listening to Christmas music because I’m choosing songs for my Christmas disc. And I’m listening to everything from Ella Fitzgerald to this wonderful choir from Boston’s Trinity Church, and I’m crying and he’s sitting there reading his New Yorker magazine, and he knows what I’m going through and that it’s really emotional for me. I’m thinking of my grandmother and personal stuff and people I’ve lost . . . I get choked up even thinking of it. So yeah, there are tunes that make me cry. Another one is something I’m working on from the Elvis Costello/Anne Sofie Von Otter record — I don’t want to say which one. And any Brahms. “Requiem” makes me cry.
Working with Claus Ogerman on The Look of Love, you spoke in cinematic terms to get certain moods across regarding the orchestrations. Do you see yourself becoming more theatrical in performance?
I find a character, find a story, find a visual in my head of what the story is about, and then tell it. Sometimes it’s hard to get the character. And I try not to be nostalgic. But . . . the other night on stage I spontaneously went into “As Time Goes By.” For some reason that was the mood I wanted to create. I think from years of watching actors I’ve learned a few things. [About the new disc] people ask, “Why aren’t you doing uptempo stuff?” And I say, “This isn’t my romantic comedy.” I have a very good friend in Laurence Fishburne; he just interviewed me for Interview magazine. We’ve talked about this kind of thing together. But I was inspired by skiing when I was 20 years old. So I’m always searching for knowledge. I learned from Jack Benny and the Marx Brothers. It’s about timing.
What I’m saying is that it takes more than a pleasant voice to get across “Cry Me a River.”
Know what it is? It has to be visceral. It’s a physical thing as well as an emotional thing. You can’t over-emote, you’ll get laughed out. It’s about tempo. Tempo, tempo, tempo. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” — I love the way Frank [Sinatra] did it, but with a tempo change it can be a tortured lament. It’s fascinating. That’s why jazz works so well: you can just twist and bend it and it’s always new.
What’s the killer piece on The Look of Love?
I don’t think about songs like that. And I haven’t really listened to the record in awhile. But I was in Germany having dinner with Claus Ogerman and he kind of reminded me about “The Night We Called It a Day,” and how great it is. That particular track is something that wouldn’t happen again. It’s just a great spot that Christian [McBride] and Peter [Erskine] were at that day. It wasn’t planned. It was just one of those great takes.
You did the tribute show to Joni Mitchell, and you said that in general you didn’t really know all her stuff — just the Blue album. But then after the show, you devoured her music. What do you learn jumping into a canon like that all at once?
I’m doing it now with Elvis Costello. I saw him at the Grammys, and he was so kind in helping me get over my nervousness. He said, “I met you four years ago at the Grammys and I said you should do this tune of mine.” And I had to tell him that I hadn’t checked it out and hadn’t really checked him out. He seemed to appreciate that, and we clicked. And I think he’s the coolest guy. I bought all of his albums the next day, and I’m stuck on four of them right now. It’s great. But all of a sudden I’m up at three in the morning and I’m surrounded by Elvis records. I like being asked to do songs by other artists. I like being put in that position, taking on that challenge. Like this Patsy Cline “Crazy” that I’m doing? I’m scared out of my mind. It will either work or not, but I do like the challenge.
And the lack of previous knowledge of Elvis or Joni precludes any weird nostalgia baggage you might bring a song that you choose to interpret.
I grew up with the Eagles, Supertramp, Eric Clapton, and Steve Miller, along with the records I was practicing with. I think the idea of “Okay, we’re the jazzers over here, and we’re into Ray Brown and such” is getting old. Guys I know are just into stuff, they’re all over the place. Right now Christian McBride can’t shut up about Frank Sinatra. Me, I’m into Willie Nelson.
read the rest of the Q&A here.