Diana Krall: Liner Notes From A 'Wallflower' Krall's new album is a collection of songs she first heard on vinyl, from The Mamas & the Papas to the Eagles. She discusses getting know the originals and sharing music with her twin sons.
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Diana Krall: Liner Notes From A 'Wallflower'

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Diana Krall: Liner Notes From A 'Wallflower'

Diana Krall: Liner Notes From A 'Wallflower'

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Diana Krall's new album is a collection of songs that she first heard on vinyl, from The Mamas & The Papas to Elton John and the Eagles. But the title cut of the album is a song that maybe isn't so well known. It's a Bob Dylan tune - "Wallflower."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WALLFLOWER")

DIANA KRALL: (Singing) Wallflower, wallflower, won't you dance with me? I'm sad and lonely, too.

SIMON: Diana Krall joins us from our studios in New York. Thanks much for being with us.

KRALL: Thank you, Scott. I was really looking forward to the opportunity to speak with you.

SIMON: Well, the pleasure is ours. The honor is ours. Let's begin with this track "Wallflower." What drew you to it?

KRALL: I heard it on a bootleg series and it was the summer time and we had it on in the car. So I was driving around my home in British Columbia on a beautiful summer afternoon. And I was listening to it with my children in the back. And I thought, well, this is a song that we should all be singing together in the car (laughter). And I loved it. There's so much truth and beauty in it. Simple, but it speaks to a lot of people.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WALLFLOWER")

KRALL: (Singing) And I know that you're going to be mine one of these days, mine alone, wallflower, wallflower.

SIMON: I don't hear a dog in the background, though.

KRALL: Yes, well, in the original - in the bootleg I believe there is a dog barking and it's a bit of a broken piano and I can imagine afternoons being played on the piano and just playing it. That was in my thoughts of how warm it felt.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, speaking of warm, let's listen to - I think - if I may, my favorite on this album - "California Dreaming."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALIFORNIA DREAMING")

KRALL: (Singing) All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray. I've been for a walk on a winter's day.

I started working on that song or listening to it - probably listening to Jose Feliciano actually was my first listen to it, not The Mamas & the Papas. And so it's been sort of sitting in the back of my mind since then. And I think the really exquisite piece to the puzzle of finally recording it was having Graham Nash singing on it. I could never say that Graham Nash sings background vocals, but to have Graham Nash singing with me was - it still kind of hits me, like, oh, my gosh. That's so cool.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALIFORNIA DREAMING")

KRALL: (Singing) On such a winter's day. California dreaming on such a winter's day. California dreaming on such a winter's day.

SIMON: When do you think, looking back on it, you began to understand that you could sing - that you had a voice that could reach into people?

KRALL: I loved to sing so much, so I think it was in high school where I really felt like I would like to sing. And then when I went to Los Angeles, I went there with my dad. We drove in my old sort of crap Toyota Tercel car. And I was doing a bunch of piano bar gigs and I pull up smoking cigarettes, wearing a Laura Ashley dress, trying to play my three-hour solo piano gig for the wedding party. I don't know. It was like - that was - I was a kid. I was, like, 19 years old, you know? And I got this gig in Long Beach. I auditioned for the piano gig and they said can you sing? And I went hmm. And Ray Brown was like, Krall, I'm getting you this gig. You better sing.

SIMON: Maybe we ought to explain. Ray Brown is a great jazz bass player.

KRALL: Ray Brown , sort of the father of us all, as we say.

SIMON: Let me ask you about another song on here. A lot of these songs, of course, will be familiar to people, but there's a Sir Paul McCartney song on this album that, I gather, he never recorded. Now, let's listen to a bit of "If I Take You Home Tonight."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF I TAKE YOU HOME TONIGHT")

KRALL: (Singing) If I take you home tonight I will think of songs to sing to you, music filled with joy and light. If I take you home tonight. If I tell you how I feel.

SIMON: How did this song come into your life?

KRALL: I had the great opportunity to work with Paul McCartney on a record he did called "Kisses On The Bottom," which were a collection of songs that he chose that meant a lot to him. In amongst these songs that he'd chosen he had written a handful of romantic ballads and beautiful songs, like he do so well (laughter).

SIMON: Yeah.

KRALL: And "If I Take You Home Tonight" was one of them and it just didn't make it on the record. And I was - that happens. You end with 20 tunes and you have to choose. And, you know, I think he said, oh, next time. So I still had the sheet music on my piano and I asked Paul if it was OK. At first, I had to muster up the courage to ask Paul, to say can I do this song? And he said sure. He told me he likes it, so that's really....

SIMON: Phew..

KRALL: I hit the ceiling, Yeah, really, phew.

SIMON: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF I TAKE YOU HOME TONIGHT")

KRALL: (Singing) Oh, my love, let me treat you right. Let me take you home tonight.

SIMON: May I ask you about your - you have two 8-year-old twins, right?

KRALL: I do - very different boys; twins, but very different people.

SIMON: And, of course, you're married to a very famous musician, too.

KRALL: Yeah, I'm married to Elvis Costello, you know, or darling, as I call him (laughter).

SIMON: What do 8-year-old twins do for the music in your household? I mean, do you go between "My Little Pony" and jazz or...

KRALL: No, they are listening to Jack White at the moment. And they - I said what are you listening - playing your piano lessons? Well, we've got Jack White and "Smoke On The Water." That's enough. That's all we need (laughter).

SIMON: They're 8.

KRALL: I'm like, oh, you don't know what's coming to you, kid. But I think they're more aware of what Elvis does, you know, because he's got lots of groovy videos out. And, you know, I'd rather them singing "Every Day I Write The Book" than a tragic torture (laughter) song at this point anyway. They have time to do that. They have time for that later.

SIMON: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEELS LIKE HOME")

KRALL: (Singing) Feels like home to me.

SIMON: Diana Krall - her new album "Wallflower." Thanks so much for speaking with us.

KRALL: Thank you so much, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FEELS LIKE HOME")

KRALL: (Singing) Feels like I'm all the way back.

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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