Thereâ€™s something delightfully, foundationally rock â€˜nâ€™ roll about Johnette Napolitano. From the moment Concrete Blonde burst into the world with their bang-up 1986 debut album, Napolitano has conducted herself with sensual integrity, stalking the music in ways that remind us that Elvis was both â€œJailhouse House Rockâ€ and â€œLove Me Tender,â€ remind us that rebellion and rabblerousing carries the greatest verisimilitude when powered by great heart and some measure of romance and vulnerability.
Since reactivating Concrete Blonde in 2001 and as an increasingly interesting solo performer, Napolitano has refined her strengths and expanded into new realms. Her Twitter profile states:
recording artist/writer/designer/lover of animals, my dogs, sewing machines, radio, late checkout, clay, dance, drawing, laughing, wine & the sunrise.
The Joshua Tree, CA resident published her first book, Rough Mix, last year, offering poem and, insights into her music and creative process. One passage is particularly helpful in unlocking the lusty immediacy that roils in her songs:
â€Iâ€™ve always maintained that song lyrics are not poetry, or certainly donâ€™t have to be, and formal poetry not meant to be song. At least not since the invention of the written word. Great rock and roll does not demand literary genius. â€˜Tutti Fruttiâ€™ may not be poetry to everyone, but itâ€™s definitely rock and roll.
This tension between formal art and rockâ€™s unruly canvas infuses Napolitanoâ€™s work. Filled with blood, desire and other juicy subjects, her tunes mingle street level things with ethereal beauty. Itâ€™s a heady combination, and always most definitely rock and roll.
Napolitano returns to the road again in June (tour dates), and in the meantime she tackles DIâ€™s namesake questionnaire.
- 1. Great music rarely happens withoutâ€¦
- Inspiration, which could come in any form.
- 2. The first album I bought wasâ€¦
- I borrowed Transformer by Lou Reed from the library and never took it back. Before that I had a lot of my auntâ€™s 60s records and a lot of my parentâ€™s music.
- 3. The last song or album to really flip my wig wasâ€¦
- 4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to beâ€¦
- An artist and writer.
- 5. My favorite sort of gig isâ€¦
- An old, haunted theatre.
- 6. One thing I wish people knew about me isâ€¦
- Iâ€™ve killed 4 rattlesnakes, one of them right under my desk. Took it out with the base of a mic stand. I donâ€™t like killing things but I donâ€™t negotiate with rattlesnakes.
- 7. I love the sound ofâ€¦
- The desert at night.
- 8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic asâ€¦
- Hmmm, so many. A Velvets record?
- 9. The best meal I ever had on tour was atâ€¦
- Probably Paris back in the day. I can only eat fruit on tour now. I can hardly eat at all on the road.
- 10. I always find the coolest audiences inâ€¦
- I would say Australia or Brazilâ€¦but the Chinese blew me away when we were there a couple years ago.
- 11. The worst habit I’ve picked up being on the road all the time isâ€¦
- Having to take a minute when I wake up to remember where I am.
- 12. Led Zeppelin or Radiohead, which flips your switch the most and why?
- I couldnâ€™t even sayâ€¦
- 13. The craziest thing I ever saw wasâ€¦
- Probably one of my ghost stories. Thereâ€™s an especially haunted hotel in Memphis and I was in the lobby with the guy at the desk in the middle of the night and cabinets were swinging open and closed, sliding doors were going crazy, lights going crazy, elevator going up and down. If I hadnâ€™t seen it I wouldnâ€™t have believed it. Thatâ€™s the craziest stuff, because youâ€™re watching the laws of physics being broken with your own eyes you realize nothing is as it seems.
Band Affiliation(s): Concrete Blonde, (Talking) Heads, various collaborations.
Instrument(s) of choice: guitar, bass, piano, drums, viola