Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 3, No. 4, 2004

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Robert J. Lewis
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Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Krall

interviewed by


Aaron Wherry is a music critic at The National Post. His essay, Pop Divas, Pantydom and 3-Chord Ditties, appeared in Arts & Opinion, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2003. For more on Aaron, check out his blog at:

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Diana Krall talks about her new album, The Girl in the Other Room which includes songs written with her husband and collaborator, Elvis Costello.

© Dave Cheng

DIANA: I'll be ready on Sunday to hit the bandstand. That's the best way for people to decide for themselves what they like and what they don't like.

Until then though, there's still time for questions -- like whether the qualities she admires in Joni Mitchell's music, the "personal, confidential, honest and real" as she notes in the latest issue of Word magazine, are things she looks for in her own.

© Jost KnaepenDIANA: I always have. I've always done what was right for me artistically at the time. I've always had tremendous control over my music.

Whether or not I would do the same thing now -- in retrospect, yes I would. But I don't feel the same way about some songs that I did. Some songs you just don't want to go back to -- [they] represent a time, an honest time, and place and you're just not feeling that way. But I think everything I've done has been honest, even if in retrospect one or two choices I wish I hadn't found. I would say there's one piece that I've never performed in public that I kinda don't feel is right for me.

WHERRY: Which one?

DIANA: Popsicle Toes, a Michael Franks tune I recorded for 1998 (When I Look in Your Eye). I just don't feel it. I knew it right after the record came out. But I have nothing against Michael Franks. The song was right for me at the time. I don't regret it, it wasn't a mistake.

But words like "personal" and "confidential" are what we'd like to draw her attention to. Krall is an artist with a well-worn reputation for privacy -- someone who keeps her much speculated-about life beyond music, including that rather famous hubby, to herself. What of such qualities then?

DIANA: I've had to learn how to do this. It's been fairly difficult for me, because I care so deeply about what I do, to the point where someone has taken advantage of that recently. I care about my family first, I care about my husband and I care about my privacy. I chose what to say on my terms on this record. And I'm learning or have learned better now than in the past, what I have to reveal. Or if I really can't explain it because it's all there on the album, that's all I really have to say. I've said it. And it's pretty confidential, so what else am I going to say?"

WHERRY: Who was the person who took advantage of you?

DIANA: I think you can probably figure that out.

WHERRY: A journalist?

DIANA: Yeah. So then you shut the door again . . . Everything's new. Everything's learning. You don't go out of the gate and say, 'I know what I'm doing' because why . . . what would . . . how . . . you know . . . would I be able to look at you with a script and have like publicists say, 'she's not going to talk about this, she's not going to talk about this' and just give you sound bites?

I put so much care into what I do, if it comes out sometimes where I run into a wall where I just kinda go, 'I don't really know' . . . that's why I choose to express it through words and music.

To her credit, there was no such list from her publicist. Not that such a move ever works for the privacy-seeking artist.

DIANA: People have suggested that I do that. And that's not really going to do me any good either. Because then they'll just make the piece about that.

So she takes her cues from Woody Allen. Seriously.

DIANA: I love the style of Woody's films. They're very improvisational and they are wonderfully neurotic and funny and serious too.

I love your films, especially the early funny ones,' right? That's what I'm going to get. 'I love your albums, especially the earlier sultry ones. You have to be able to take the piss out of yourself. It's serious stuff. This is real life. This isn't a game. These are serious things that we talk about. But it doesn't mean that there's not some kind of dark humour in things. Because there always is. Otherwise you'd go crazy. And I love my life too much. I have a lot of fun.

As she had the day before, playing in a train station in front of a couple of thousand people, clad in the type of coat that's likely visible from space.

DIANA: That's why I wore a green jacket. It keeps your sense of humour intact. I have a pair of green lame snake boots that sometimes I keep travelling with and I wear them occasionally because if I'm doing a long press day, I just look down and go, 'Yup, I haven't lost my sense of humour.'

The real fun awaits. But first one more question. This time from her.

DIANA: What do you think of the record?

WHERRY: I like it. I was really happy to see the Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits stuff. And I think the song writing was the best thing you could've done.

DIANA: I've always known that. Throughout the whole process. It was really good. It was good to be closed and not have any other opinions or anything except for your own. And it's all about music. And then you do what you're supposed to do. You want to play music, you want to tour and this is a different record so you have to go out and talk about it. That's part of the process that's the most traumatic definitely, the most difficult. But then getting to play it, that's the most rewarding because the music is going to change again. And that's what I'm going to enjoy. I'm already singing Girl in the Other Room differently than I sang it on the record. Being jazz musicians, that's what we do. Change 'em, stretch 'em, play 'em, write more things. But getting out on the road now, I'll be so glad to do it.

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