Dirty Impound Questionnaire

Johnette Napolitano

Concrete Blonde

4 Replies

Johnette Napolitano

Johnette Napolitano

There’s something delightfully, foundationally rock ‘n’ 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 “Jailhouse House Rock” and “Love Me Tender,” 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:

”I’ve always maintained that song lyrics are not poetry, or certainly don’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. ‘Tutti Frutti’ may not be poetry to everyone, but it’s definitely rock and roll.

This tension between formal art and rock’s unruly canvas infuses Napolitano’s work. Filled with blood, desire and other juicy subjects, her tunes mingle street level things with ethereal beauty. It’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 DI’s namesake questionnaire.

Band Affiliation(s): Concrete Blonde, (Talking) Heads, various collaborations.
Instrument(s) of choice: guitar, bass, piano, drums, viola

1. Great music rarely happens without…
Inspiration, which could come in any form.
2. The first album I bought was…
I borrowed Transformer by Lou Reed from the library and never took it back. Before that I had a lot of my aunt’s 60s records and a lot of my parent’s music.
3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
An artist and writer.
5. My favorite sort of gig is…
An old, haunted theatre.
6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
I’ve killed 4 rattlesnakes, one of them right under my desk. Took it out with the base of a mic stand. I don’t like killing things but I don’t negotiate with rattlesnakes.
7. I love the sound of…
The desert at night.
8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
Hmmm, so many. A Velvets record?
9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
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 in…
I would say Australia or Brazil…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 is…
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 couldn’t even say…
13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
Probably one of my ghost stories. There’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 hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have believed it. That’s the craziest stuff, because you’re watching the laws of physics being broken with your own eyes you realize nothing is as it seems.

4 thoughts on “DI Questionnaire: Johnette Napolitano

  1. Fantastic questionnaire response by the person whom I consider to be the most accomplished artist of the last 50 years in rock & roll. I have friends and relatives who sadly do not yet appreciate her music (but I am working on them) yet will concede she is a truly unique, extremely intelligent and beautiful human being and a role model to be greatly admired. Live long and happily with your fanimaly in the desert Johnette and please look after that amazing voice. I was so pleased to hear the Aussies are one of her favorite audiences because it gives me great hope we will see her back in OZ soon. There is a perfect venue (~475 seats) in the desert in the heart of Australia (Alice Springs) where I live and where one day I hope to see her magnificent name on the Araleun Theatre billboard.

  2. Experienced a show at the Governor Hindmarsh in Adelaide for the Group Therapy tour.A smallish crowd but so much power from the Blonde ,never forget it. Come back Johnette !!!!!!!!!!!

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