JOLIE HOLLAND: A GHOST IN YOUR HOUSE


alice rutherford

Download: Jolie Holland “Mexico City”

(from The Living And The Dead out now on Anti-)

Download: Jolie Holland “Old Fashioned Morphine”

(from Escondida on Anti-)

This one sneaked on to L.A. RECORD when I was looking in a different direction. Apropos to the recent financial pessimism—pay me or obey me is the rule around here—Jolie talked a bit about fringe survival techniques. Very lengthy outtakes (including discussion of stewardesses, sneering, Marvin Gaye, weddings and shit, the Anthology of American Folk Music, lack of privacy, singing songs to yourself, being the best ‘white girl’ singer in school and Jolie’s new band Dark-Eyed Junko) after jump.

You said the best music comes from the hungriest mouths—what were you thinking about?
I was just being a snob because I was dirt poor.
Do you feel different now?
No.
Are you still dirt poor?
I’m pretty dirt poor. I don’t know. I’m dirt poor but I have accountants.
That sounds like a Webb Pierce lyric.
I live on the road so I can’t pay my bills or anything.
Didn’t you once sell puppies to pay bills? What’s the best way to get by?
I don’t know. Getting a job is not that bad. I miss having a job.
What was the last one?
I was a waitress at Howard’s Diner in San Francisco. It was a real sweet family business. Pretty much all the waitresses sang there. It was really nice. The busboy—the 70-year-old busboy from China used to sing to me all the time. We both knew this one Chinese song and we’d sing it together.
Do you think he still thinks of you from time to time?
I hope so. I think about him all the time.

Published interview here on L.A. RECORD. Outtakes below.

Have you ever listened to volume four of the Anthology of American Folk Music?
I’ve listened to that thing a million times.
Ever all the way through front to back?
No, that sounds overly intense. Too much music for me. Maybe if I was driving across Utah or something.
Do you have any rituals you need to do before you write?
I just need privacy and time and quiet. Which I have not had a lot of lately. I haven’t had my own room since 2005. It’s really stupid! Kind of the only time I have space to write is when I’m on the road, which is ridiculous.
So hotel rooms at 2 AM?
I wrote two of the songs on the last record in airports and hotel rooms.
Strumming by the baggage claim?
I was waiting for a flight and the stewardesses were sneering at me. I know! Stewardesses like to treat me like shit. I don’t know! I dress funny or whatever? They just like to sneer at me.
Were you trying to check the guitar case?
I think I was gate checking it at that point. They were just unhappy people.
What songs are those?
‘You Painted Yourself In’—I finished the third verse in an airport. And ‘Fox In Its Hole in a hotel room. Budget—a down-home London hotel room.
What’s your most natural environment? Like if you could retreat somewhere for six weeks?
That sounds so good! I’m just looking forward to having my own room. I live in Brooklyn now. A lot of times I’ll just start walking somewhere and a song will show up.
Guy Clark said write it down or it’ll get away.
A lot of time I’ll call my cell phone and sing it to myself.
Were you always that self-possessed?
Nobody’s paying attention to each other walking down the street in New York. And I sing really quietly to myself. Do you ever hear people singing when they ride by on bikes? I notice that.
Who is your favorite neighborhood singer?
I love seeing kids sing.
What was your own first time ever in front of an audience?
I don’t know. In grade school, I was always considered ‘the best white girl singer’ in school.
Who were the other bests?
Ramona. I don’t know. She was really great, but we had a little bit of a competition going on. I really wonder what Ramona’s doing now. I really do.
What did you sing?
I couldn’t even tell you. Just songs in school.
Your school had you sing?
We had to get up and sing one time—probably patriotic songs or some shit. Me and my friend Jason Leonard were joking—I have a new band called Dark-Eyed Junko. Named after the bird. So we finally got to record yesterday because we’ve been trying. We recorded this whole weekend and went to record at this place and they were having a wedding reception below the studio. You could hear ‘Sea Of Love’ and Marvin Gaye coming through the floor. But it wasn’t good for what we were recording because we were recording quiet stuff—vibraphone and whistling and stuff. We were getting out of the van and my friend said, ‘What is this, a wedding reception?’ And I thought he said, ‘Is this a wedding or some shit?’

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