Jenny Lewis Puts Emotions On The Line: 'It Can Get Ugly Sometimes' Lewis speaks with NPR's Scott Simon about the catharsis of making her latest album, On the Line, and grappling with accusations made against her album collaborator, Ryan Adams.

Jenny Lewis Puts Her Emotions 'On The Line': 'It Can Get Ugly Sometimes'

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Jenny Lewis was a child actor. She did cereal commercials and Barbie ads and films, including "Troop Beverly Hills" and "The Wizard," before she became frontwoman for Rilo Kiley. When that band broke up, she went solo. She's just released her fourth album under her own banner. It's called "On The Line."


JENNY LEWIS: (Singing) I'm on fire. Come on and get next to me. I want to ride with you.

SIMON: The track is called "Red Bull & Hennessy." And if that's true, this could be quite a conversation. Jenny Lewis joins us now from the studios of NPR West. Thanks so much for being with us.

LEWIS: Oh, thanks for having me.

SIMON: So who's playing those drums we hear?

LEWIS: There are two drummers on that track.

SIMON: Yeah.

LEWIS: One being the great Jim Keltner, who played on "Imagine." And the other drummer is Ringo Starr.

SIMON: Were you in the studio at the same time?

LEWIS: Yes. To sit in the control room and watch those two play together, it was like a bullet train. I mean, the power, the sound, the feel is like a big-boy pirate ship.


SIMON: You dedicate this album, "On The Line," to the memory of your mother, who was a singer, I gather.

LEWIS: She was. She was a lounge singer in Las Vegas, where I was born.

SIMON: And she had her challenges, I guess, in life.

LEWIS: She did, as we all do. But, yeah, my mom - she was an addict and struggled with the disease of addiction for her entire life.

SIMON: Which has passed now, I guess.

LEWIS: Yeah. She passed in 2017.

SIMON: I hope you don't mind if we listen to a little bit of the track "Little White Dove."


LEWIS: (Singing) A mother and child - eternity. Under a cool white sheet, here we go. In the middle of love, I'm a little white dove, yeah. I'm the heroine.

These relationships with our parents are so potent and complex. And reaching the end of life and being able to see someone go through that process is so intimate. And, really, the song is about the little white dove, you know, showing up with love and forgiveness and understanding and peace.

SIMON: I hope you don't mind if I ask, but when you say forgiveness, you forgiving your mother?

LEWIS: Well, also, I think she forgave me.

SIMON: Forgave you for what?

LEWIS: I guess for not being around.


LEWIS: (Singing) In the middle of love.

SIMON: Well, let me ask you about another song, "Heads Gonna Roll."


LEWIS: (Singing) Since I haven't talked to you, I dream about your baby blues and wonder why you stopped getting high. Even though we were just friends, I think of us as bookends. And I'm going to love you till I die.

SIMON: Doesn't sound like a happy, sitcom relationship, somehow.

LEWIS: But I view it as a success. Even though we were just friends, I think of us as bookends. And I'm going to love you till the day I die. That, I hope, is the takeaway. I mean, I think if you can spend four years with someone, or five, or 10, or 15, or 20, and you move on and go your separate ways, I view that as a success.

SIMON: Do some people find bad relationships addictive?

LEWIS: Absolutely. I mean, this is - I talk about this with my girlfriends every day. We're trying to decode it.

SIMON: Which brings up Ryan Adams.

LEWIS: Great segue.

SIMON: Well, it just kind of presented itself. You made a statement recently. He's been accused of sexual misconduct. Your statement says, in part, although he and I had a working, professional relationship, I stand in solidarity with the women who have come forward. Do you regret working with him?

LEWIS: No. I can't change the past. We were co-workers, and he is a part of the story of my music. Do I condone that behavior? Absolutely not. Was that my exact experience? No. However, yeah, I mean, I understand that we need to have this dialogue moving forward.


LEWIS: (Singing) It used to be Bobby forever. We were together day and night.

SIMON: This album has so much personal material. Was it fun? Was it fulfilling always?

LEWIS: Well, music is - for me, that's when I feel most connected to the cosmos or the best version of myself. And it's not always light stuff. And I think we, as artists, you know, we open that channel. And it's a little bit magical.


LEWIS: (Singing) Listen to my heart beating. Listen to my heart beating. Listen to my heart beating on the line - on the line.

SIMON: Jenny Lewis - her new album, "On The Line." Thank you so much for being with us.

LEWIS: Thank you.


LEWIS: (Singing) You're not the only one.

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