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We hear a lot about “career development” when it comes to artists, and, these days, apart from Carrie Underwood, there is a laundry list of artists whose careers started with a bang and are now lost, stalled or going backwards- Macy Grey, Tracy Chapman, Corinne Bailey Rae though she a huge personal upheaval to do with, nearly every “Idoler” and X Factorer, Duffy The Duffer, Joss Stone, Jakob Dylan etc. The list is endless with possibly Joss Stone’s fall from grace being the most nasty when one sees and hears her in full flow like she is here and when we expected so much from this 15 year old from Leeds. And it went horribly wrong with crappy record after crappy record and senseless side projects.

A friend and I were writing up this list and he added Norah Jones to his and which almost ended a very long relationship.

Despite her nearly getting me fired when at EMI by claiming that we were “over-marketing” her and “turning her into a Britney Spears” and demanded all advertising be stopped IMMEDIATELY, I think Norah is great.

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True, she’s even lectured me for hours after a dinner on parenting after both of us finishing off a few bottles of wine, but that was her having come to terms with the great Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar being her father and which at one time was a taboo subject as far as the media was concerned and off limits in all interviews.

We also had to make sure to film her hands from only one angle because of a birthmark on one and which could not be shown. But man, she could and can sing as she does here with step-sister Anouska Shankar.

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Like Karen Carpenter, she has one of the best Pop voices of all time. She can also drink, she has a wicked sense of humor, you don’t fuck with her and she makes her own rules and sticks with them. Norah didn’t wanna be a Snorah. While other labels signed up their Norah clones, the real deal refused drove Blue Note and EMI mad by refusing to be pigeon holed and never giving a damn about “numbers” or even if her records sold.

Her recordings were almost musical experiments whereas she could always make millions with her ‘live’ shows- understated shows and where she almost wanted to hide behind her family that was her band and with bassist and songwriter boyfriend Lee Alexander being the key member of her support group.

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Over the years, apart from her starring role in Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai’s kinda dreary”My Blueberry Nights”, I haven’t heard much from Norah Jones apart from the occasional ‘live’ recording and series of duets with a very strange cast of characters including that rock and that rock and roll outlaw that is Keith Richard. She looked in shock singing “Love Hurts” with him.

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It was not until listening to “Little Broken Hearts”, “Happy Pills”and watching her cameo in “TED” that I caught up with the life and times of Norah Jones. She could have coasted singing songs like Come Away With Me and Don’t Know Why, but Norah is not into “coasting”. Once in a while, there needs a roller-coaster ride to move things along.

It was not until listening to “Little Broken Hearts”, “Happy Pills”and watching her cameo in “TED” that I caught up with the life and times of Norah Jones. Things had changed.

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What was very noticeable was that the entire old band had been replaced and which, one can suppose, had to do with her breakup with Lee Alexander.

Listening to “Happy Pills” and watching the accompanying video, musically, this is a very different Norah Jones- bitter, angry, musically dark yet very attractive- and a video that could be as disturbing as anything David Lynch could create- and with the music produced by Danger Mouse.

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There is something about this video- and with her looking after all aspects of her career, I am sure that the storyline of plotting, killing her lover, making it look like a suicide, living with it and taking great satisfaction in letting the woman who had come between them know, years later, exactly what had happened.

The mood, the art direction, the song could all have been a key scene from “Mad Men” and an episode called, ” Who Shot Don Draper.”

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Continuing her role of a woman scorned and a woman undone, “Happy Pills” is followed by the spooky, “Miriam.”

With a chilling and eerie chorus where the name Miriam is called out, this song is all about how she got rid of the woman who came between her and her man.

“Oh, Miriam, you know you’ve done me wrong/I’m going to just smile/when I take your life.”

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All this is a million miles away from “Come Away With Me” and being an interpreter of songs who could have continued taking it easy and being a romantic balladeer and the antithesis to all that angst pounded out by people like Kelly Clarkson who seem to have a hard time giving up their teen fan base.

I am unsure if Norah Jones ever had a teen fan base. Despite her age, her audience was always more sophisticated and her music was a welcome relief when she first came outta nowhere with that first record and all of us- men and women- were captivated by that gorgeous face that graced the cover and the quality of the music with my favorite being her interpretation of the standard, The Nearness Of You.” It was all a welcome change from the teen angst of Avril Lavinge and the mob which that school of skater chicks music produced. It was music that was Love with a capital L and reminding me of what Love is and was and how Love will never ever be again ‘cos lust got in the way.

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Today, Norah Jones is her own young woman. She seems ready to tackle films as an actress and a film maker.

Of course, she will continue to make music- her own music- and play with instrumentation and rhythms and take this music into the film world as an absorbing soundtrack to her life. Will she ever work on a film based on her life? Doubt it and I doubt she will ever give permission for that. But I can see her being an art house film maker who will make a small classic very soon and which will be hailed by the public and the critics alike.

Now, this is the uncontrived and natural career advancement which is how it should be for so many singer-songwriters. Bands, they’re different. And Norah Jones is very different and very special.

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