Wanda Jackson: Her Party Ain't Over More than 50 years after bursting onto the music scene, the Queen of Rockabilly is updating her sound. Teaming up with The White Stripes' Jack White, Jackson shows she's still got it on her new album, The Party Ain't Over.
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Wanda Jackson: Her Party Ain't Over

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Wanda Jackson: Her Party Ain't Over

Wanda Jackson: Her Party Ain't Over

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

In 1958, a young rockabilly performer recorded what became one of the biggest hits of her career.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S HAVE A PARTY")

M: (Singing) Some people like to rock. Some people like to roll. But moving and a grooving's gonna satisfy my soul. Let's have a party. Woo.

INSKEEP: "Let's Have a Party" put Wanda Jackson on the map. With her bright-red lipstick, dangly earrings and high heels, Wanda Jackson was edgy for her time. She dated Elvis Presley and with his encouragement, became one of the first female rock and rollers.

INSKEEP: Jack White of the White Stripes. They collaborated on an album called "The Party Ain't Over."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RIP IT UP")

M: (Singing) Well, it's Saturday night and I just got paid. I'm a fool with my money, don't try to save. My heart says go, go have a time. And it's Saturday night, baby, I'm feeling fine. I'm gonna rip it up.

INSKEEP: In this new album, Jackson performs country, gospel and rockabilly tunes, all with her trademark growl.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RIP IT UP")

M: (Singing) I got me a date, and I won't be late. Pick me up in his '88.

INSKEEP: Jack White is the producer here - sometimes plays as well. The collaboration began when White invited Wanda Jackson to record a couple of songs in his Nashville studio. He wanted to cut a single in a medium that is dear to Jackson's heart: the vinyl 45.

M: I said, oh, happy day.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: To have that 45 single in my hand again was really a trip for me.

INSKEEP: So Jackson came to the studio a 73-year-old grandmother and born-again Christian, and she was not thrilled with the song Jack White had selected for her: an Amy Winehouse tune about infidelity.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU KNOW I'M NO GOOD")

M: (Singing) Meet you downstairs in the bar at night, your rolled-up sleeves and your skull T-shirt...

M: Well, at first, I said he's got to be kidding. He wants me to record this? You know - said I don't think it would be very believable in the first place. But he seemed little bit insistent.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU KNOW I'M NO GOOD")

M: I describe Jack - when I'm asked how is he to work with - describe him as a velvet-covered brick.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: I mean, you're not getting away until you get it the way he wants it, and what he's hearing up in his head.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

M: I just wanted to show that, you know, age don't matter.

INSKEEP: That's Jack White.

M: She can still sing a song just as good as the '50s, just right now, and the attitude can still be carried forth - you know, and not in a cute, novel way, either. I mean, for real.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHAKING ALL OVER")

M: (Singing) The way you move in right up close to me. That's when I get the chills all over me.

INSKEEP: Jack White is 35 years old. He says he was a teenager the first time he heard Jackson's music.

M: So wild and so, just abrasive. You know, I can't imagine what it must have sounded like when that came out back then. That must have been pretty - it pricked up some ears around the country.

INSKEEP: Wanda Jackson was a rock and roll pioneer as a younger woman. And she still is today, as an older women fronting a hard-hitting rock band.

M: Golly. I hadn't thought about it that way but yeah, I feel pretty good about that.

INSKEEP: Wanda Jackson's new album is called "The Party Ain't Over," and you can listen to it at our website, nprmusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN")

M: Thunder on the mountain, heavy as can be. A mean old twister bearing down on me...

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