A 'Righteous' Joan Osborne returns
The woman who made us wonder "What if God was one of us?'' answers questions about her new CD and how her music is like coffee-Heath Bar crunch ice cream.
By BRIAN ORLOFF and SAMMY MACK
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 9, 2000
Joan Osborne is back on the music scene, with a fresh new sound on her soulful album Righteous Love and a tour that stops at Jannus Landing on Friday.
Osborne, on the phone from her home in upstate New York last week, talked about the new album, life on the road and her hit single from 1995, One of Us, among other things.
Sammy: With your first album Relish and your second album Righteous Love there are two separate, distinct musical styles. How did you decide to make that switch?
Joan: I think I have more of a confidence in what I need (on Righteous Love) instead of recounting things in a lot of flowery language. I really felt it was either time to fish or cut bait, just go ahead and say what I had to. So I would say that is the major difference.
Sammy: You went to India to study classical and Qawwali music, and there's a lot of Eastern influence on your latest album. How did that experience come about?
Joan: For the first time I really had the chance -- had a little bit of money and a little bit of time. I really wanted to go to India and find out as much as I could about (Qawwali) music and try to study it and I did. It reminds me of American gospel music in that it's very expressive and the music is specifically designed to bring people to a joyful, spiritual state.
Brian: What flavor ice cream best describes your music?
Joan: (laughs) Hmm. Gosh. I would say it would have to be coffee-Heath Bar crunch because it has a little bit of lightness. It's stimulating like coffee ice cream and it's also rich and sweet like chocolate and it stays with you like toffee, in your teeth (laughs).
Sammy: What's the best part of being on the road?
Joan: The shows themselves are the best part and also developing a camaraderie with the other band members or those guys in the crew. You sort of become like a little tribe, you know, because you're all with each other.
Sammy: What's the worst thing?
Joan: The food. The lack of sleep. Trying to keep your energy up while you're moving all the time. You know, you don't get to eat regularly and nobody's cooking meals. It's hard to stay healthy.
Brian: What kind of live performer are you, and what can fans expect from your concert this time around?
Joan: Well, performing is my favorite part of doing music, and I try to think about it as a sort of a cross between a revival and a big party. It gives me a lot of energy to be on stage, and I really like for the audience to respond in kind. (People) want to cut loose, and it's just a matter of feeling like they have permission.
Brian: If you could assemble a co-headlining tour with another artist, dead or alive, who would you select and why?
Joan: Right off the top of my head I would have to say Sly and the Family Stone, because I think they, hopefully, were having as much fun as I have ever seen anyone having on stage, and that's what I try to do.
Sammy: If you would have known how successful One of Us would be, would you do anything differently?
Joan: (laughs) Geez. I don't know. I might have run screaming into the night out of the studio. It's impossible to say. You just never know what people are going to latch on to. You never know how people are going to interpret what you do, and it's totally out of control as an artist. I think you just have to do the best you can and try to ride out whatever storms you happen to cause.
Brian: If God was one of us, as your song states, and was a rock star, would God be: a) Sporty Spice, b) the policeman from the Village People, c) the Backstreet Boy with the weird hair, or d) any member of Flock of Seagulls?
Joan: (laughs) I would choose "e," none of the above, and I would say it would have to be, definitely Aretha Franklin.
Brian: What is the biggest misconception people might have about you or your music?
Joan: I think some people listen to the song One of Us and thought that somehow I am anti-religion. That is not true at all. That song is a very spiritual song, and it's basically trying to get people to understand that if God was one of us, we only have each other. We should start treating each other accordingly and understand just how precious we are to each other.
Sammy: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Joan: I would love to sit back 10 years from now and feel that I have made four or five really, really great records in that time. (I also want) just to be as creative as I possibly can be and then to be able to just sit back and take stock and feel proud.
-- Sammy Mack, 16, is a junior at St. Petersburg High School. Brian Orloff, 15, is a junior at Palm Harbor University High School. Both are former members of the Times X-Team.
Joan Osborne, Friday, 8:30 p.m., Jannus Landing, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Halcyon opens the show. Tickets are $16 advance; $20 day of show.
Back to Weekend
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111